How to Winterize Birdbaths and Fountains

Ted Lare-winterizing fountain and birdbath-Birdbath in the fall

As winter approaches, it’s important not to forget about your birdbaths or fountains—they need a little care and maintenance before the snow falls. If you have outdoor water features in your garden, go through these pre-winter care tips to prevent damage or a messy cleanup in the spring. Preventing dirt and bacteria from developing in your outdoor water features isn’t just about aesthetics—it’s essential for keeping the local wildlife safe and healthy. You don’t want birds taking a bath in dirty water, and you certainly won’t want your pets to sneak a drink from it when they go outside!  

Ted Lare-winterizing fountain and birdbath-bird-in-bird-bath

Should You Leave a Birdbath Out in Winter?

A lot of our customers have asked us, “can you leave a cement birdbath out in the winter?” Ideally, if you can pack up your birdbath or fountain and store it in the garage for the winter, that’s your best option. Freezing temperatures can cause materials like stone or cement to expand and contract, leading to cracks. However, if you’ve got a particularly heavy birdbath or fountain, or if it’s a permanent installation, then you’ll have to take some extra care precautions to keep it clean, insulated, and intact over winter. 

Always make sure that there is no water left behind in the basin of your water features during winter. Freezing water will dramatically increase the risk of damage to your fixture!

Ted Lare-winterizing fountain and birdbath-scrub-algae-fountain

Pre-Winter Care: Cleaning Birdbaths and Fountains 

A crucial part of birdbath and fountain care is doing a thorough scrub down right before winter because algae and other funky stuff will accumulate over time. If you have a stone, cement, or copper birdbath or fountain, you can use a firm bristled scrub brush with baking soda and water or a simple vinegar and water solution to clear away the grime and kill bacteria. If your copper fountain has a vintage patina finish, vinegar may remove the finish and will end up polishing it, so if you want to maintain that finish, stick to the baking soda method. Rinse the basin out thoroughly and dry it after cleaning. 

For fountains, remove the water pump and disassemble it to clean all the working parts. Clear out the pump tube and use a toothbrush to scrub any hidden gunk out from all the nooks and crannies. 

Ted lare-dirty bird bath needs cleaning before winter

If your birdbath or fountain must remain outside for the winter, fill the basin with old towels or burlap sacks. This will help prevent moisture from accumulating in the bottom because if water seeps into porous materials like stone and cement, cracks may form when temperatures fluctuate. Place a waterproof fountain cover over it and seal it up tight to keep things insulated and to prevent any critters from crawling in and setting up camp. 

Even if your fountain remains outdoors for the winter, you’ll always want to store the pump indoors. Remove the parts, wrap them up in a towel and keep them in a sealed bin in a dry place.

If you’re able to bring your birdbath or fountain indoors for the winter, you’ll still want to put some towels in the basin and wrap it up with a cover. You never know when your garage may get a leaky roof or if a mouse sneaks in looking for some shelter. Store fountain pumps separately from the fountain basin.   


If you have any more questions about birdbath winter care in Des Moines, our staff at Ted Lare will be happy to help you out! If your birdbath needs replacing, we have a lovely selection of all different sizes and materials to suit your landscape design. 


The Ted Lare Look

Our garden style and trend blog, dedicated to helping you design and shape your dream home, garden, and outdoor retreat.

Inspiration comes in many forms. Have inspiration delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our email newsletter, where you’ll receive our best gardening articles, project ideas, and more!


Ted Lare Garden Center

Our first day open for the 2024 season will be March 16th, see you then!


Closed for Easter