Usages for Ponds in Winter

Around here we are asked many interesting questions about ponds in winter. So grab your hot chocolate, warm blanket and read about some winter ponderings.

What should I do with my aeration system in the wintertime?

This depends on if you skate on your pond or not. We recommend turning off any aeration

Ice does not form when there is aeration
Credit: Pat Baldwin

device if you want to skate anywhere on your pond. Some small compressors are best kept warm in the winter; ask us about yours.


How do I know when my ice is safe for skating on?

Great question! Here is a general rule, but exercise caution when determining how many people can safely be on the ice:

From Tim Madson’s book Earthponds Sourcebook, he says 2″ is thick enough for one person, 4″ for a group of up to 12 people, 6″ for snowmobile or snow blower and 10-12″ for a truck with a plow.

However, depth isn’t the only factor to consider: thick ice can become rotten after many days covered with heavy wet snow in Spring or even some January days now. Be careful when temperatures rise above 0°, or after a few sunny, windy, warm days. Always check ice thickness before heading out onto your pond.

Keep your ice cleared of snow, so it continues to thicken over the season, and always have a lightweight ladder or inner tube attached to secured rope, which can be quickly thrown to someone who may fall through the ice.

Purchase and install a Danger Thin Ice sign around your pond if you chose to aerate your pond during the winter.

We are considering installing a pond side sauna. Any advice?

Installing a sauna near your pond can be interesting when a de-icing system keeps access to your pond water for cold water bathing between heat sessions. Obviously, we are not specialized in saunas, but our experience has taught us this.

From what we know the location of a sauna is directly related to its usage, so generally speaking, the further away it is from the house, the less it will be used. Presumably one in the home is easier to run and access than one down by the pond that has no electricity.

But for the full experience of a sauna, I think the outdoor one by the pond can’t be beat. It means a trip away from the house, a transition to relaxation, a journey through interesting weather and more of a connection with the stars, the moon and nature.

And if you are a die-hard sauna freak, you could install one of our dock de-icers to keep your dipping hole ice free, for those fun icy polar bear dips. We would love to hear about your pond sauna stories!

Beware! If you choose to maintain an open hole in the ice, it is essential to install a sign warning that the ice is thin and fragile.

What is happening in my pond under the ice?

Lots of creatures are dormant in the winter: frogs, leeches, insects, salamanders, snakes, turtles and newts all burrow in the mud or earth in and around the pond. Fish need a deep pond to survive since there is more available oxygen for them under the ice when the pond is deep. Beavers and muskrats are active in winter, as are the mink and otter creatures (please excuse the pun).

Although your pond may seem dormant, there is still a lot going on there. Check it out! You’ll see good animal tracks on the pond surface. Please share your discoveries with us!


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