Winterizing Your Fountain
Memphis Water Gardens wants to help you keep your fountain looking beautiful for years to come. Our service team is trained and equipped to assist with this often heavy and sometimes messy task. We offer a full line of products and services including installation, winterization, summerization, and on-going maintenance to assist you in this. If you are the DIY type we are here to empower you to care for your fountain safely and properly. Here we will explain the winterization process for the majority of stone, pottery, and metal fountains. If you have further questions unanswered here please do not hesitate to contact us or to schedule a service appointment.
When should I winterize?
All fountains should be winterized because freezing water expands and can cause cracks in concrete, pottery, metal, and other materials. Please note that neither Palladio Garden nor our manufacturers are responsible for damage resulting from freezing temperatures or seasonal weather conditions. Therefore, your fountain should be winterized a minimum of 5 days before the first major freeze – in temperate zones this usually means an air temperature below 30°F for more than two hours. It can then be summerized once the threat of a major freeze has passed.
First, remove all water from all parts of the fountain that may hold water.
A wet vacuum works well for this. If your fountain has drain plugs, remove them as this will allow the fountain to self-drain. Collect the drain plugs and place them in a plastic bag. Leave the bag in the fountain so you can find them next Spring. The pump can remain in the fountain, but it must not be allowed to over-winter in standing water.
This is a good time to clean your fountain: let the water drain, remove the leaves and any other debris. Never use harsh cleaners/chemicals or stiff brushes as they may harm the finish. We carry a fountain-safe soy-based concrete cleaner. While the fountain is still damp, use a soft bristle brush to remove algae and debris. Rinse with clean water and remove all standing water.
Second, if your fountain has a copper fountain ring, disconnect and store it indoors.
Copper rings are highly sensitive to winter weather and the elements. The spray heads are very fragile. Always handle a copper fountain ring with extreme care.
Third, protect your investment with a fountain cover sized for your feature.
We carry a variety of cover sizes to match most fountains. Special considerations may be necessary for especially large water features. Fountains basins with a basin 6’ in diameter or larger can be left uncovered and the drain plug removed to allow water to escape. The vertical portion of these larger fountains must still be covered thought the basin is left exposed. It is imperative the basin’s drain remain unobstructed from both sides to allow water to escape.
Center the cover on the fountain. Carefully tighten drawstring(s) or Velcro straps so that the cover opening is smaller than the bottom shell of the fountain. DO NOT OVER TIGHTEN.
If the cover is substantially larger than the fountain it may be necessary to perform the following: after tightening the open side, grab the cover from the top and lift until the cover opening touches the bottom of the shell. While holding the cover above the fountain with one hand, grab the cover with your other hand just above the top piece of the fountain. At this point, you will tie off the cover with a piece of rope. Doing this will securely fit the cover to your fountain.
After your fountain is covered DO NOT allow water to re-enter the fountain, DO NOT allow water, snow or ice to collect on top of the cover. Through the winter check your fountain to make sure the cover is secure and water or ice has not collected on the cover. You want to keep your fountain and cover free of water, ice and condensation. Please note that neither Palladio Garden nor any of our manufacturers are responsible for damage to our products due to freezing temperatures or seasonal weather conditions.
If you have more questions about winterizing your fountain, please contact Memphis Water Gardens.
Fountain Maintenance and Operation
Always operate your fountain with the pump fully submerged in water.
Do not let your pump run dry. Low water levels in your fountain may cause pump burnout. Check your fountain’s water level frequently. You may need to add water to your fountain every day or every week, depending on the fountain, to maintain levels. In order to make it easier to maintain water levels in your fountain, we offer auto refill kits for larger water features. Though not automated, a refill line fed from your irrigation system into the fountain can also help keep your feature full. It is important to note the end of the hose must be secured above water level to prevent siphoning. Memphis Water Gardens also offers a variety of mechanical and electrical options for preventing pump burnout including low-water shutoff pumps.
Keep your fountain clean.
Manually remove leaves and debris that may enter the fountain. To control the growth of algae DO NOT use a chlorine-based product as it can damage the finish, pump, and copper elements on your fountain. Instead we recommend using one of the fountain- and pet/child-safe algaecides we carry at Memphis Water Gardens. You may prefer to use products that contain enzymes which naturally break down organic contaminantes but know that natural enzymes while best suited for fish ponds are not a chemical and take longer to work in statuary fountains.
When air temperatures exceed 90° we recommend supplementing your liquid algaecide with a slow-release product such as Fountain Block or Pond Block. Follow all manufacturers’ recommended dosage and usage instructions.
Aquatic plants and fish are not recommended in your statuary fountain. Plant roots will clog the pump and most ornamental fountains are not deep enough to support fish.
Please contact us if you need product-specific assembly and maintenance information for your fountain.
Urn, Planter, & Bird Bath Maintenance
Urns and planters should not hold water.
Water should drain through the drain holes that are in all urns and planters. Keep the drain holes open. When water does not drain, it may drown and kill your plants and/or cause cracks in your planter.
To encourage proper drainage, we recommend the following. First, place your planter on pot feet or other spacer to allow free movement of air and water beneath the planter. Second, place a piece of weed barrier inside the planting cavity completely covering the bottom of the urn or planter. Third, place a layer of stone on top of the weed barrier; the size of the stone should be larger than the diameter of the drain hole, about 1/3 of the depth of the planting cavity of the urn or planter. Fourth, completely cover the stone layer with another piece of weed barrier. Next, fill the urn or planter with the soil of your choice to the desired height. Finally, plant your flowers.
Bird Bath Winter Maintenance
If a bird bath is left outdoors when the temperature drops below freezing, ice can form inside the birdbath, which may damage the finish and possibly crack the birdbath. To prevent ice damage, you should consider storing your birdbath indoors (garage or shed). If you leave your birdbath outdoors during winter weather, turn the top over so water will not collect in it. Do not allow the pedestal to sit in a pool of ice or freeze to the ground. We do not recommend the use of any type of heating or de-icing device for our bird baths.
DO NOT USE ANTI-FREEZE IN YOUR FOUNTAIN!
Anti-freeze can be lethal to animals and humans; its active ingredient, ethylene glycol, has a sugary sweet taste similar to soda or juice so it is VERY important that you do NOT use chemical de-icing products in your water feature…ever!