Garden fountains provide the lovely sound of running water as well as a focal point in the landscape. They may even invite more birds and other local fauna to visit your backyard oasis. Yet, if you live in an area with cold winters and freezing temperatures, the time will come when you must turn the fountain off for the season. Failure to do so can lead to major damage that can ruin your fountain. The following tips will help you prepare for the winter months.
Tip #1: Drain before the first freeze
Find out when the first frost date typically is for your area, and then begin watching the weather reports in the few weeks leading up to it to make sure there is no early frost. You will want to drain the fountain, along with any hoses, before they are exposed to freezing temperatures. Frozen water expands, which can break concrete fountains and rubber hoses. Remove the hoses and blow them out, just to make sure there is no water remaining.
Tip #2: Winterize the pump
Most fountains have a submersible pump. Take this out of the fountain and place it in a bucket filled with water. The gaskets and seals in these pumps will dry out and crack if they aren't kept submerged. Another option is to dry out the pump completely and then lightly lubricate all of the gaskets so they don't dry. Regardless of the option you choose, keep the pump in an area where it won't be exposed to freezing temperatures.
Tip #3: Manage the power source
For fountains that hardwired into the electrical grid, turn off the circuit breaker to the fountain. If yours uses a plug, simply unplug the fountain and put the cord away for the season. Many modern fountains run off of solar panels instead of electricity. In this case, take down the small panel, if possible, and wipe it clean with a lint-free cloth before storing it. For permanently affixed panels, simply clean and then cover them when you cover the fountain.
Tip #4: Put it under cover
Your last task is to wrap the fountain in a waterproof tarp. Secure the tarp with twine or bungee cords to make sure that it doesn't come loose during winter storms. The tarp will keep moisture from settling into the fountain, where it can then freeze, expand, and crack the concrete. Small fountains can be moved inside for winter, if preferred.