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Controlling Cattails – Reclaim Your Shoreline | Learning Center


Cattails and other emergent aquatic plants can add natural beauty to any pond or shoreline, but if left unchecked for too long, they can overtake these areas and create a maintenance nightmare. A consistent program is the most efficient way to combat excessive spread of unwanted weeds. Fortunately, there is a simple solution to keeping cattails in check. Follow these tips to maintain a pristine shoreline all season long.

Set Boundaries – Cattails are not all bad. They are nature’s solution to providing habitat for wildlife, preventing soil erosion and they make a great visual barrier to add some privacy to your pond. Like most things however, cattails are best in moderation. Highlight boundaries where you would like to contain cattails by using landmarks, rocks or other unobtrusive markers. Treat cattails that try to stray from these boundaries to keep their growth under control.

Spray Unwanted Growth – To maximize the effectiveness of your cattail treatments, wait until there is at least 12” – 18” of exposed growth to apply product. A systemic herbicide like Shoreline Defense® & Treatment Booster™ PLUS will kill the cattails down to the root to prevent the plant from re-growing. The roots of cattails are the most difficult part of the plant to kill. So, allow the mixture to absorb into the plant for one to two weeks. This will ensure the treatment gets into the root system. Do not try and stretch the application further than the instructions state. This will likely lead to unsatisfactory results and end up in more product used in the long run.

Remove Dead Cattails – Wait until treated cattails are brown and wilted to remove them from your pond. Cutting them down too early will prevent your chemical treatment from fully reaching and killing the cattail rhizome (root) resulting in a quick return of the weed. Don’t leave dead cattails, or any other vegetation, in your pond to decompose. This decomposition turns into nutrient-rich pond muck that fuels new weed growth. Tools like the Weed Cutter & Pond Rake exist to make the process as quick and simple as possible.

Retreat As Needed – Due to the fact that cattails have a robust root base, multiple treatments may be necessary to properly gain control. Once under control, they will make a nice addition to your landscape and encourage wildlife to call your pond home.

6 Responses

  1. My dogs swim and roam the shore looking for frogs. My kitten spends time at the shoreline. Could I simply use the rake and not use chemicals? I need to get rid of my cattails as they are overtaking the pond, but really hate going the chemical route.

    • Hi Barb – Cattails can be very difficult to control (even with the use of chemicals). Cattails have extensive root systems that spread out all around the pond. Cut the cattails down as soon as you see them. You can also dig up the rhizome. Because of the expanse of the cattail’s root system, you will see additional growth in both methods. Persistence and vigilance will be needed to need to keep the cattails from growing.

  2. I have large mouth bass, will they be harmed by this product? I have cattails that are taking over the entire shoreline.
    Thank you, Sharon Lanier

    • Hi Sharon – No, your Large Mouth Bass will not be affected. Shoreline Defense is sprayed directly onto the plant. After the cattails have turned brown, we suggest removing as much as possible from the water. This helps with less muck and keeping more oxygen in your water for your fish.

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