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Do Water Features Freeze In Winter?

April 14, 2023 5 min read

Do Water Features Freeze In Winter?

Water features are an important aspect of landscaping as they add a unique and tranquil element to outdoor spaces. They come in many forms, including fountains, ponds, waterfalls, and streams, and can be designed to fit any style or size of the yard.

Water features are not only aesthetically pleasing, but they also provide a host of environmental benefits. They attract a variety of wildlife, including birds, butterflies, and dragonflies, and can help to maintain a healthy ecosystem by providing a water source for plants and animals.

However, during winter, water features can be at risk of freezing. This can lead to potential damage to the feature's components and harmful effects on the surrounding environment. In the following sections, we will delve deeper into whether or not water features freeze in winter and how to prevent this from happening.

What Causes Water Features To Freeze In Winter?

Water freezes when it reaches 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius). During the winter months, when temperatures drop, water features can freeze due to several factors:

  • Ambient Temperature: When the temperature outside drops below freezing, the water in a water feature can freeze.
  • Wind Chill: Wind can cause the water in a water feature to cool more quickly, making it more likely to freeze.
  • Depth of Water: The deeper the water feature, the less likely it is to freeze. However, if the water feature is shallow, it can freeze more easily.
  • Circulation: If the water in a water feature is not moving or circulating, it can freeze more easily than constantly moving water.
  • Insulation: If the water feature is not insulated, it can lose heat more quickly, making it more susceptible to freezing.
  • Humidity: High humidity levels can cause water to freeze more quickly.
  • Type of Water Feature: Different water features can freeze at different rates. For example, a fountain may freeze faster than a pond due to the constant movement of the water.

It's important to note that water features can freeze at different temperatures depending on the salinity of the water. 


How To Prevent Water Features From Freezing In Winter

There are several methods for preventing water features from freezing in winter, including:

  • Water Feature Heaters: Installing a water feature heater is an effective way to prevent water from freezing. The heater keeps the water temperature above freezing, preventing ice from forming. These heaters are available in different sizes and styles and can be used for various types of water features.
  • Aerators: Installing an aerator in a water feature can help to prevent it from freezing. The constant movement of the water prevents it from becoming still and freezing.
  • De-Icers: A de-icer can be placed in a water feature to prevent ice from forming. The de-icer uses a heating element to keep a small area of the water surface free from ice.
  • Insulation: Insulating a water feature can help to prevent it from freezing. Covering the water feature with a waterproof material, such as a tarp, and adding a layer of insulation, such as straw or leaves, can help to retain heat and prevent the water from freezing.

Winterize Your Outdoor Water Feature 

Outdoor Fountain, Sculpture, Water Feature Cover


Winterizing your water featureis an important step to prevent damage and ensure longevity of your water feature. Here are some reasons why it's important to winterize your water feature:

Prevent Damage

During the winter months, freezing temperatures can cause the water in a water feature to freeze, expand and potentially damage the feature's components, such as the pump, pipes, and filters. Winterizing your water feature can help to prevent this damage from occurring.

Save Money 

Repairing or replacing damaged components in your water feature can be expensive. Winterizing your water feature can help to avoid costly repairs and replacements.

Preserve the Ecosystem

Freezing water can harm aquatic life and the ecosystem of your water feature. Winterizing your water feature can help protect the plants and animals that rely on it for survival.

Ensure Easy Spring Start-up

By winterizing your water feature, you can ensure it's ready to go in the spring. Proper winterization will make it easier to start up your water feature in the spring by preventing damage to components, so you don't have to spend time and money on repairs.


What Happens When Water Features Freeze In Winter?

When outdoor water features freeze in winter, several things can happen that can have negative consequences. Here are some of the potential issues that can arise:

  1. Damage to Water Feature Components: When water freezes, it expands, which can cause damage to the components of a water feature, such as pumps, pipes, and filters. This damage can lead to leaks, cracks, and other issues that may require costly repairs.
  2. Algae and Bacteria Growth: When a water feature freezes, the ice can block sunlight and prevent oxygen from entering the water. This can create an environment where algae and bacteria can grow, leading to unsightly and potentially harmful conditions in the water feature.
  3. Aesthetically Unappealing: A frozen water feature is less aesthetically pleasing than flowing and active. The frozen water can also become discolored or covered in snow, making it less visually appealing.
  4. Water Damage: If a frozen water feature has a leak or crack, the melting ice can cause water damage to surrounding areas such as decks, patios, and landscaping.

In summary, when outdoor water features freeze in winter, several negative consequences can occur. To avoid these issues, it's important to prevent your water feature from freezing or properly winterize it if it is in an area with consistently cold temperatures.


If you have an outdoor water feature, it's important to take the necessary steps to protect it during winter. The potential damage and negative consequences of a frozen water feature can be costly in terms of time and money. By taking preventative measures, you can ensure that your water feature remains healthy and functional for years to come.

Remember, each water feature is unique, and the preventative measures required may vary. Consult with a professional landscaper or water feature specialist to determine the best course of action for your specific water feature. They can advise you on the most effective methods for preventing your water feature from freezing, such as installing a heater, aerator, or de-icer, or properly winterizing it.

In addition to protecting your water feature, taking preventative measures can also help to preserve the natural ecosystem around it. By preventing harm to aquatic life and the surrounding environment, you can enjoy a beautiful and healthy water feature year-round.

Don't let freezing temperatures damage your water feature. Take the necessary steps to protect it during the winter months, and enjoy the beauty and tranquility of your outdoor space for years to come.

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