Pond Vacuum - How To Drain For Winter

a pipe draining water from a pond

Clearing your pond of debris and decaying matter with a pond vacuum is a necessary maintenance task, and can aid another pond-related process: draining the water for winter. The latter chore sounds imposing, but doesn’t require a professional service–just the right tools and a little bit of know-how.

Ponds are a wonderful addition to any landscape, providing a scenic, tranquil setting and a space for exotic freshwater fish and aquatic plants. However, they have to be regularly maintained, and if water garden features are allowed to sit stagnant over the winter months, their filters can clog up, the water can become cloudy and green, and fish may be killed in the process.

Pond Drain

The easiest way to drain your pond for the winter is to with a pond drain. However, this is a feature installed during the original construction of the pond due to the plumbing requirements and its location at the bottom of the pond. If your pond does not have this option, consider installing one once the pond is drained, but for this winter season you’ll need a pump to get the water out.

A koi pond lined with cement

Pond Vacuum

A pond vacuum is designed to suck debris and decaying matter out of your pond. These can be purchased for as little as $50 or as much as $800 for an industrial-grade vacuum. A pond bottom drain does the same work on a continuous basis, but if you do not have this feature, a pond vacuum can help clear your pond of decaying matter as you prepare to drain it for the winter. Without that drain, you'll also need one more tool to get the job done.

Pond Pump or Sump Pump

A good pond pump can handle 3,500 gallons of water per hour, has a wet rotor and employs wet bearing technology. Basically, it’s designed to pump water at the bottom of the pond back up to the surface to create circulation. A sump pump carries water away from its source, which is what you'll need for this job. There are upright or pedestal sump pumps and submersible models. If you have a large pond, there will be a lot of water to dispose move. Be creative. You can fill 55-gallon drums with the old pond water and use it to water your plants, divert it to a storm drain, a dry well, or, if allowed by your municipality, simply let the water run into the sewer system.

At the time of this writing, prices for pond pumps run from around $125 up to $1,000 or more depending on the manufacturer, the flow rate, and the overall quality. Sump pumps range from $60 to $400.

When it’s time to drain your pond for winter, you can do it yourself with the right tools. A drain for your pond is helpful but not necessary. Either a pond pump or a sump pump will get the job done.