frozen fountain
frozen fountain in winter


Water features are a popular addition to many gardens and outdoor spaces, providing a calming and soothing atmosphere. However, as the winter months approach, many people wonder whether their water features will freeze over and become damaged. The answer to this question depends on several factors, including the type of water feature and the severity of the winter weather.

Fountains and small ponds are more likely to freeze over than larger ponds, as they have less water volume and are more exposed to the elements. Additionally, if the water feature is located in a shaded area, it may be more prone to freezing as the sun cannot warm the water. It is important to note that even if a water feature does freeze over, it is not necessarily a cause for concern. Ice formations can actually provide insulation for the water and protect any fish or plants that may be living in the pond. However, if the ice becomes too thick, it can put pressure on the sides of the water feature and cause damage.

Understanding the Impact of Winter on Water Features

Water features can be a beautiful addition to any outdoor space, but they can also be vulnerable to the harsh winter weather. As the temperatures drop and the first frost sets in, it's important to understand how winter can impact your water feature.

Cold weather can cause water to freeze, leading to ice formations on the surface of the water. If the temperatures continue to drop, the ice can become thicker and eventually freeze over completely. This can be problematic for water features such as fountains or waterfalls, as the ice can cause damage to the pump or other components.

In addition to the freezing temperatures, snow can also have an impact on water features. As snow accumulates on the surface of the water, it can add weight and put pressure on the structure of the feature. This can cause damage or even collapse if the weight becomes too much to bear.

It's important to take steps to protect your water feature during the winter months. This may include draining the water and covering the feature to prevent snow and ice from accumulating. Some water features may also require special winterizing treatments to protect the pump and other components.

Overall, understanding the impact of winter on water features can help you take the necessary steps to protect your investment and ensure that your feature remains beautiful and functional for years to come.

What Causes Water Features To Freeze In Winter?

  • Dropping Temperatures: The most direct cause of a water feature freezing is the drop in temperature below 0°C (32°F). When the ambient temperature dips below the freezing point of water, the water in the feature begins to solidify, starting at the surface and moving downward.

  • Still Water: Water that is not moving tends to freeze more quickly. The lack of movement allows a uniform cold temperature to set in, which facilitates the freezing process. This is why active fountains may resist freezing longer than still ponds.

  • Shallow Depths: Shallow water features freeze faster than deeper ones because they have less volume, which means there's less water to absorb and distribute the cold. This leads to a quicker drop in temperature throughout the entire body of water.

  • Exposure to Elements: A water feature that is exposed to the open sky will lose heat more rapidly on clear, cold nights due to the process of radiational cooling. Wind also plays a role by whisking away any heat, further chilling the water.

  • Insulation: A lack of insulation can contribute to freezing. Water features that are surrounded by insulating materials like plants or earth may retain heat better and thus resist freezing longer.

  • Thermal Inertia: The concept of thermal inertia explains that larger bodies of water take longer to change temperature. Smaller features lack this inertia and can freeze overnight with a sharp temperature drop.

  • Heat Source: The absence of a heat source, like a heater or a warm spring, means that the water is more susceptible to ambient temperatures and will freeze as the thermometer dips.

  • Salt Content: Water features with absolutely pure water will freeze more easily than those with impurities like salts, which lower the freezing point of water.

  • Solar Heating: During the day, if there is insufficient direct sunlight hitting the water feature due to shade or cloudy weather, there won't be enough solar heating to counteract the cold, leading to freezing as soon as the temperature drops.

Understanding these factors can help in planning and managing a water feature to prevent freezing during the cold winter months. If freezing is a concern, consider implementing measures such as heaters, moving elements to agitate the water, or even covers to insulate and protect the water feature from the harsh elements.

frozen fountain in winter

Preparing Water Features for Winter

Winter can be a harsh season for water features, especially in areas with freezing temperatures. To ensure that your water feature survives the winter, it is important to winterize it properly. Here are some steps to take:

  1. Clean the water feature: Before winterizing your water feature, it is important to clean it thoroughly. Remove any debris, fallen leaves, and other materials that may have accumulated in the water feature. This will prevent them from decomposing and creating harmful bacteria in the water.

  2. Drain the water: Drain the water from the water feature and the plumbing lines. Make sure to remove the water pump and store it in a dry place.

  3. Cover the water feature: Cover the water feature with a fountain cover or a tarp to protect it from snow and ice. Make sure to secure the cover with a drawstring or other means to prevent it from blowing away.

  4. Dismantle or disassemble the water feature: If your water feature is small and portable, it may be easier to dismantle or disassemble it and store it indoors for the winter. This will protect it from the elements and ensure that it is ready to use again in the spring.

  5. Shut down the water feature: Turn off the water supply and shut down the water feature. This will prevent any water from entering the plumbing lines and freezing, which can cause damage to the water feature.

By following these steps, you can ensure that your water feature is properly winterized and protected from the harsh winter weather.

Maintaining the Aesthetic Appeal of Your Yard in Winter

Winter can be a challenging time for maintaining the aesthetic appeal of your yard, especially if you have water features such as ponds or fountains. However, with the right care, it is possible to keep your yard looking beautiful even during the cold months.

One of the most important things to keep in mind is to keep your water features free of ice. Ice can cause damage to pumps and other equipment, as well as harm any fish or plants living in the water. To prevent ice from forming, it's recommended to run the water feature at least once a day, even if it's just for a short period of time.

Another important aspect of maintaining your yard's aesthetic appeal in winter is to keep your landscaping and greenery looking healthy. This can be achieved by covering sensitive plants with burlap or other protective material, or by planting hardy plants that can withstand the cold.

If you have a rain feature in your yard, it's important to make sure that it is functioning properly to prevent any damage to your yard or home. This can be achieved by keeping gutters and downspouts clear of debris, and by ensuring that the rain feature is properly installed and functioning.

In conclusion, maintaining the aesthetic appeal of your yard in winter requires a bit of extra care and attention, but it is definitely achievable. By keeping your water features free of ice, your landscaping and greenery healthy, and your rain feature functioning properly, you can enjoy a beautiful yard all year round.

iced fountain in winter

Preventing and Addressing Common Winter Problems

Water features can be a beautiful addition to any landscape, but they can also be susceptible to common winter problems. Freezing, cracking, and leaks are just a few of the issues that can arise during the colder months. Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken to prevent and address these problems.

One of the most common winter problems for water features is freezing over. When water freezes, it can cause damage to the equipment and electrical components of the feature. To prevent this from happening, it is important to keep the water moving. This can be done by using a water pump or aerator. By keeping the water moving, it will be less likely to freeze over.

Another common problem is cracks in the foundation of the water feature. This can be caused by the expansion and contraction of the water as it freezes and thaws. To prevent this from happening, it is important to use materials that are designed to withstand the cold temperatures. Additionally, it is important to ensure that the water feature is properly installed and maintained.

Leaking is another issue that can occur during the winter months. This can be caused by a variety of factors, including the freezing and thawing of the water. To prevent leaks from occurring, it is important to regularly inspect the water feature for any signs of damage or wear. Additionally, it is important to use chemicals that are designed to prevent algae and water bacteria from growing.

Ice formation is another common problem that can occur during the winter months. This can be caused by a variety of factors, including the temperature of the water and the amount of sunlight that the water feature receives. To prevent ice formations from occurring, it is important to use chemicals that are designed to prevent the water from freezing. Additionally, it is important to ensure that the water feature is properly insulated.

Overall, water features can be a beautiful addition to any landscape, but they do require some maintenance during the winter months. By taking the necessary steps to prevent and address common winter problems, you can ensure that your water feature remains beautiful and functional throughout the year.


Water features can indeed freeze in winter due to a combination of low temperatures, still water, exposure, and insufficient heat retention. However, with proper care and preventive measures, you can safeguard your tranquil aquatic accents from the icy grip of winter. Don't let the cold weather put a damper on your outdoor decor. Take action now to protect your water features. Keep your oasis ice-free and flowing all year round!

Water features in winter