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I’ve heard a lot about barley, some good and some bad. What do you think? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A


I’ve heard a lot about barley, some good and some bad. What do you think?

I’ve heard a lot about barley, some good and some bad. What do you think?
Jessica – Jackson, MI

Pond owners are intrigued by the prospect of being able to ditch chemical treatments for a natural means of algae control. While it is true that barley straw is capable of helping your pond fend off algae it still comes with advantages and disadvantages.

Studies have shown that as barley straw decomposes it releases agents that inhibit algae growth with no adverse effects on your water garden plants or decorative pond fish. Originally customers would place bales of Barley Straw in their waterfall filter boxes, skimmers or waterfall areas where they would decompose over time. As barley straw treatments continue to grow in popularity new types of barley products have been made available. Barley Straw Pellets are available for a cleaner and easier way to implement barley treatments into your pond or for even faster results, Barley Extract. Barley Extract is basically barley straw already broken down into its beneficial byproducts.

While barley straw can help keep your pond less green this season it is not 100% effective on all algae that may form in your pond. One of the biggest issues with using barley straw and pellets is that you have to put them in your pond early in the season as they will need time to start decomposing before providing any benefits. Some may also argue that you are also adding muck and nutrients to your pond in the process. You will gain some speed by using barley straw extract but it then becomes less convenient because you will have to continuously add it to the pond. Barley also does not directly kill algae so chemical treatments may still eventually be required.

Your best defense against algae has always been a good offense. Keeping your pond clean and balanced with adequate filtration, bacteria treatments, minimal fish loads and sun exposure you will reduce your dependence and need for algae treatments in general. It is when your pond is balanced and just needs a little extra kick to keep algae at bay that your barley treatments really begin to shine as their gradual release of anti-algae agents will help maintain clear water throughout the season with minimal or no additional chemical treatment.

Pond Talk: Do you use barley straw as a part of your pond maintenance? Have you noticed a cleaner pond while using barley straw?

All the benefits of barley straw without the mess!

2 Responses

  1. This is the start of year 4 of my 6,000 gal water garden. I started out using nothing but the initial bacteria doses when starting up a new pond. When the air temperature reached the 80’s I had to put in a uv sterilizer which still keeps the water crystal clear but allows string algae and moss to grow. I first used Algae fix to kill the string algae and started using barley straw bales to keep it under control. It worked very well but did not like the rotting bales in my bio filter. I switched to barley straw extract for year 2 and had no string algae ever. Year 3 I found myself fighting string algae every month with algae fix only and having to clean my skimmer every day. I am back to barley straw extract now for a month and staying away from chemicals. I guess you can say I was testing the different product potentials myself to see what to use for the future. Thank you for your article for now I am going to try muck away to see how it works. My pump circulates my water 1 1/2 times per hour and I have a water fall stream combo with 4 spillways and aeration in two areas. I have 12 large koi, 10 in. to 26 in. and a lot of baby koi and lots and lots of gold fish. ( I am looking for a good home for the gold fish, any takers? I have 50 plus 2in. to 14in. ) Just a little background info. in case it will be helpful.

    • Thanks for the info Rick, anytime we can stay away from chemicals and maintain the pond through aeration and more natural means is a good thing. Keep us posted on your how your pond does this year!

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