There’s nothing like a beautiful, bubbling fountain to help you relax and melt the stress of the day away. As the days get shorter and the nights get cooler, you'll be finding yourself spending more time inside of your home, where a fountain can works its magic in a special way. But if you have fountains or garden statues outdoors, the opportunity to enjoy them in the Winter can be greatly diminished. There are a few things you can - and should - do as Winter approaches to ensure that when the weather warms up again, you'll be able to enjoy them once again.
In the northern climes particularly, the ravages of Winter upon your fountains and outdoor statues is enormous. If not properly prepared for icy weather, your fountains can become damaged or ruined beyond repair by ice and snow. Similarly, many outdoor statues, while weather resistant, can still be damaged by the icy blasts of Old Man Winter. If you're like me, you've made a considerable investment in your outdoor decor, and want it to last for many years. Here are a few practical tips to keep your fountains and statues in good shape year after year. Properly executed, they'll save you hundreds of dollars and a world of heartache...
The best way to protect and maintain an outdoor fountain or statue during Winter months is to move them into an indoor space, away from any rain, ice and snow that may occur. For fountains, completely drain them of all water, and taken them into a shed, garage, barn or other similar structure to avoid any possibility of ice forming and creating fatal cracks in their structures. Turning them upside down during their storage will ensure that any residual water that may have been left will fall harmlessly out of the fountain and onto a floor or the ground. Similarly, small to medium sized statues can suffer the same fate if left to the elements. This gives them the chance to go into a semi-hibernation, keeps the colors from fading, and makes them available once again during Spring to fully enjoy. If you've got a space indoors where you can move a fountain and keep it running, that's even better! It will provide a nice sound and some humidity into your home to counter the drying effects of fireplaces and home heating equipment!
For larger fountains that are impractical to move or disassemble, or for large statues that are too big to safely move, the options are more limited, but there are still ways to safely winterize them to keep them safe and sound and ready to emerge once again in the Spring as centerpieces of your decorative spaces.
You'll definitely want to completely drain the fountains, making sure to check the reservoir and remove even the littlest bits of water. A small chunk of ice formed in the reservoir can wreak irreparable damage to your fountain as it works its way into cracks and freezes and thaws, causing it to have leaks that can't be repaired. If possible, take out the pump assembly and store it in your garage or shed for the duration. Next, cover the fountain with a heavy duty tarp, plastic or a fountain cover that has a string that can be tightened to securely wrap it and keep it over the fountain structure. Statues and other decorative ornaments that are too big or heavy to move should be similarly covered. This will protect them from ice and snow and once the danger of Winter's chill has passed, it's easy to remove the covers and put them away for reuse the next fall and winter.
Many bird baths are made to be enjoyed outside year round. In fact, in the Southern part of the country, Winter is the period when they are most used and enjoyed by migrating birds who sojourn in the warmer regions until the weather warms up again. It's extremely important to check the type of bird bath that you have to make sure that it will hold up to icy elements and take appropriate action. In any event, the important thing is to keep the water in the basin from freezing to whatever extent possible. If you are committed to keeping your bird bath available year round outdoors, there are a number of ways that you can do this, including purchasing a heating element to keep the water above freezing, a "water wiggler," that keeps the water in motion and less likely to freeze unless the temperature drops well below freezing. Some of these products rely on batteries or solar power to activate, while others require an electrical connection. Buying a bird bath that has a thermostatically controlled heating element already built in is a great option as well, and while they may be a bit more expensive, they are ready out-of-the-box to be used during every season. In many instances, these elements can be taken out during the warm months and reinserted when the weather gets cold. If you're lucky enough to live in semi-tropical areas that only rarely get really nasty cold weather, you may be able to use a heating bulb placed near the fountain to keep the water warm enough from freezing. These options may involve the added burden of electricity and having to monitor the level of water to make sure it doesn't evaporate because of the artificial warming. The upside, however, is that birds will be very active in bathing and drinking in a frost-free basin, and, if you've got a feeder with seeds or suet nearby, they will provide hours of visual and audio enjoyment as they flock to this oasis in your back yard, deck, or garden area.
Small ponds and water features present a somewhat more complicated set of tasks that will ensure that they'll be in good shape over the winter, and ready for a renaissance in the Spring. Most importantly, you should remove as much rotting, organic matter from them as possible to keep the decomposition to a minimum as the water freezes over. Dangerous gases will build up as organic matter composts, and if blocked by heavy ice covering, will make an unhealthy environment for fish if you have them - possibly even killing them. Just as with larger fountains, freezing can be kept at bay by purchasing heating elements that are commercially available and sized and built for larger outdoor features. If you're lucky enough to live in an area of the country where freezing is only occasional, you may get away with an industrial sized fountain pump that you can set on low - enough to keep the water moving and avoiding freezing in all but "extreme" winter weather. Most of these products can be found online or at your favorite water feature retailer, who can assess your needs and provide the appropriate products. When properly winterized, the ponds or water features will require a minimal amount of cleaning up in the Spring and they'll be back to their beauty in no time!
Winter is also a good time to consider getting a smaller water fountain to enjoy indoors. They make a great gift any time of the year, but especially so at Christmas, where your loved one will begin to think of the coming Spring and warmer weather. There’s nothing like the sight and sound of a relaxing water fountain to chase away the Winter Blues! The days may be getting short, but our list of fountains is very, very long. We’ve got so many types at so many prices, that it’s hard to put into words. Come see us today and select the one that’s perfect for you – or your loved one!
With a little bit of foresight and some common sense proactive steps, your fountains, statues and water features can go into a dormant phase over the winter and safely reemerge in the Spring - ready for another year of enjoyment and a chance to add their special charm to your decorative space!