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What Can I Do To Reduce Or Remove Cattails From My Pond? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: What can I do to reduce or remove cattails from my pond?

Ryan – Bradford, PA

A: Cattails, when left unchecked, can proliferate and take over a pond or lake in no time. These common aquatic plants grow from 3 to 10 feet tall in dense colonies around the margins of ponds and lakes. In the spring, the green strap-like foliage grows from large, creeping, below-the-ground rhizomes. As the seasons progress, the cattail’s leaves and spikes – or the plant’s brown cylindrical flower – grow. And when the flowers open and let loose their cottony seeds, the cattails spread and propagate new plants throughout the lake.

Cattails can indeed be a nuisance. Granted, a small, managed area of cattails will provide an ideal habitat for amphibians, insects, birds and fish, as well as helping to prevent erosion. But too many of these plants can create an unappealing look and begin to transform a healthy lake or pond into marshland.

Controlling cattails involves a simple three-step process: You’ll need to spray an herbicide to kill the plants themselves, cut the leaves and spikes down and remove them, and retreat as necessary.

Step 1: Treat the Plants

The most common way to control cattails is to apply an EPA-registered herbicide and surfactant product, like Avocet PLX, using a pressurized pond sprayer, such as the Airmax® Pond Sprayer. Read the product labels for proper dosage rates for your size lake. To treat a 2,500-square-foot area of weeds, mix 8 ounces of Avocet PLX with 1 gallon of water, pour into pond sprayer and apply onto actively growing plants and at least 18 inches above the water surface where the cattails are growing. Allow the mixture to absorb into the plant and the root system, which is the most difficult part of the plant to kill, for one to two weeks.

Step 2: Cut, Remove the Stalks

Once the herbicide has had a chance to soak into the cattail’s root system, the plant will turn brown and become limp. At this point, you should remove the stalks. Doing so prevents muck accumulation, and it also makes it easier to treat and remove new cattails in the future as they will come up between the dead stalks. Cut the stalks using the Airmax® Pond Rake and Cutter Combo or the Jenlis WeedRazer® Pro Aquatic Weed Cutter at the base of the plants, allowing for easier removal with your rake.

Step 3: Retreat as Needed

To completely eradicate cattails in a pond, this process may need to be repeated – and repeated and repeated because not all cattail roots will be killed by one treatment. But once you have the plants under control, they can make a nice addition to your landscape and encourage wildlife to call your pond or lake home. Just don’t let the cattails take over again!

Pond Talk: How large of an area do you have in your lake or pond that’s devoted to cattails?

Avocet PLX - Eliminate Cattails & Phragmites

Do Cattails actually die in the winter or can I do something to prevent them from coming back? | Pond & Lake Q&A

Do Cattails actually die in the winter or can I do something to prevent them from coming back?

Do Cattails actually die in the winter or can I do something to prevent them from coming back?

Brian – Holland, MI

As grandfather used to say, “never trust a sleeping cattail.” Actually, grandfather never said that. But he should have – because it’s true.

During the winter months, cattail foliage dies off. Leaves and stems turn brown and dry up when the weather gets cold, and optimistic pond keepers dare to imagine their backyard water features without the scourge of unwanted cattails. But deep beneath the pond, cattail roots are alive and well in their dormant state, saving up their energy to come back strong in the spring.

Fortunately, cattails aren’t invincible. Depending on the season, enterprising pond owners can take steps to eliminate cattails, leaving their backyard water features in great shape to host more desirable aquatic plants and fish.

When winter rolls around, and cattails have dried up, it’s worthwhile to cut the dead foliage and remove it. Our Pond Rake/Weed Cutter Combo is specifically designed to make this process quick and easy. While this won’t kill the cattails, it will lay the groundwork for a successful spring offensive.

In spring, summer and fall, when cattail foliage is thriving, it’s time to apply our Avocet PLX Aquatic Herbicide. This safe, powerful herbicide is applied directly to all above-water cattail foliage. Once applied, the herbicide attacks and kills the entire plant – including its root system. Once the plant is dead, you’ll want to resume the use of your Pond Rake/Weed Cutter Combo to remove the dead plants and prevent their potential to spread.

While Avocet PLX is effective on spring growth, it’s most effective during late summer and fall, when foliage is at its peak.

Pond Talk: Do you clear out dead cattails in the fall to get a jump start on spring maintenance?

Lake Rake Weed Cutter Combo

The leaves are just starting to fall..I see netting for water gardens to keep the leaves out, do they make anything like this for large ponds? | Pond & Lake Q&A

The leaves are just starting to fall..I see netting for water gardens to keep the leaves out, do they make anything like this for large ponds?

The leaves are just starting to fall..I see netting for water gardens to keep the leaves out, do they make anything like this for large ponds?

Bryan – Traverse City, MI

When fall comes around, leaves and ponds seem to have a magnetic attraction to one another. And while netting is available in essentially any size you might need, it’s a cumbersome solution for larger ponds. Simply spreading the netting over a large pond is a major undertaking – and the impracticality of installing posts throughout your pond to keep leaf-covered netting from sinking makes other solutions look much more attractive.

At The Pond Guy, we strongly recommend aeration and chemical treatments to address inevitable leaf buildup for customers with large ponds. When you browse our web site, you’ll notice a wide range of Airmax® Aeration products. These aeration systems enable the pond to break down leaves quickly and naturally by keeping pond water moving – and the entire pond well oxygenated. When coupled with the beneficial bacteria in Pond Logic® PondClear™ Pond Logic® EcoBoost™ and Pond Logic® MuckAway™, fallen leaves break down in no time to keep water clear, and both fish and plants healthy.

As an added measure in the fight against falling leaves and debris, you should also consider the use of a pond rake. With the regular use of our Airmax® Pond & Beach Rake, you can easily remove excessive leaves and debris in no time flat.

Pond Talk: How do you keep fall leaves from accumulating in your pond?

Airmax Aeration

What is the difference between regular Bluegill and Hybrid Bluegill? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

What is the difference between regular Bluegill and Hybrid Bluegill?

What is the difference between regular Bluegill and Hybrid Bluegill?

Dan – Toldeo, OH

Ask any thoroughbred Bluegill, and they’ll tell you there’s a huge difference. But the truth is, a Hybrid Bluegill is simply a cross between a Male Bluegill and a Female Sunfish. As it turns out, that combination produces a population that’s between 80% and 90% male.

There are effects of a predominantly male population. First – and most important – it slows down reproduction, which in turn prevents overpopulation. If left to their own devices, regular, non-hybrid Bluegills reproduce very quickly. Left unchecked, this means overcrowding – and all the negative ramifications that come with it. Also, with a predominantly male population, there’s also a natural tendency for fish not to ask directions. Fortunately, in a small, backyard pond, there’s really nowhere to get lost.

There are, however, some drawbacks to stocking your pond with hybrid Bluegills alone. Because reproduction is slower, natural cycles and predator fish may result in dwindling fish populations over time. In those situations, restocking with additional Bluegills and/or other feeder fish like minnows may be required every few years.

But for many ponds, hybrid Bluegills are an exceptional choice. Once they arrive, however, it’s important to make them feel welcome. We strongly recommend the use of Game Fish Food to satisfy hearty appetites. And for both predator protection and shade from the summer sun, our Fish Attractor Spheres are the perfect complement to your pond’s natural habitat.

Pond Talk: What type of bluegill do you stock in your pond?

Fish Attractor Spheres

Should I cut cattails before I treat them? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Should I cut cattails before I treat them?

Should I cut cattails before I treat them?

Kevin – Boise, ID

At first blush, it seems pretty logical to cut cattails before treating them. But when you understand how the treatment works, it’s immediately clear: cutting first is the wrong way to go.

Here at the Pond Guy, we’re big fans of Avocet PLX Aquatic Herbicide. When it comes to eradicating cattails and other grassy plants, nothing does a better job. Avocet PLX includes a powerful surfactant that breaks down the waxy cuticle of the plant, allowing the herbicide to penetrate the stalks of cattails. The cattails then do the rest of the work, carrying the chemical treatment throughout the root system to kill the plant at its source.

Because cattails only use a small portion of their root system at one time, a single application of Avocet PLX should be allowed to work for a week or two before cutting the plants down with our Jenlis WeedRazer® or Jenlis WeedRazer® Pro Aquatic Weed Cutter. Occasionally, some roots will survive and send up new growth. When that happens, simply reapply Avocet PLX, wait an additional week or two, and repeat the process.

So, while it might be tempting to take out your frustrations and cut down offending cattails to remove the blight before treatment, take your time. The results will be worth the wait.

Pond Talk: Have you used Avocet PLX to treat your cat tails?

Avocet PLX Aquatic Herbicide

There are rakes, razors, cutters…skimmers…is there a difference and which works best to clean the pond? | Pond & Lake Q&A

There are rakes, razors, cutters…skimmers…is there a difference and which works best to clean the pond?

There are rakes, razors, cutters…skimmers…is there a difference and which works best to clean the pond?

Bryan – Pasadena, TX

Yes. You could sweep your garage with a toothbrush. It’s possible. Some people – who have a much lower tolerance for dirt than most – might even do it. But when the time comes to do the job, you’re much more likely to choose a push broom, or better still, a shop vac. Why? Because they’re the right tools for the job. The same principles apply when you’re cleaning your pond. If you pick the proper tool, the job will be a lot easier – and much more effective.

So what, then, is the right tool for the job? It all depends on the conditions of your pond – and on what you hope to accomplish. The following list gives a brief breakdown of the tools we recommend, and describes their respective strengths:

Airmax Weed Cutter. The perfect weapon in the fight against submerged, marginal and terrestrial weeds. Tackle everything from lily pads and pond weeds to cattails and phragmites with this double-sized, 28” wide weed cutter, featuring a two-piece, 11’ long aluminum handle for extended reach.
Weed Razor and Weed Razor Pro. This unique, v-shaped aquatic weed cutter features razor-sharp blades designed to shear almost any type of rooted aquatic vegetation, including milfoil, lily pads, pond weeds and cattails. It’s designed for maximum impact, and clears a 48” swath with each throw and retrieval. The Weed Razor Pro offers the added benefit of an adjustable cut from 12” to 62”, and makes it easy to cut nearly any aquatic vegetation in its path in no time flat.
Airmax Pond & Beach Rake. Whether you’re skimming floating aquatic vegetation from the water or looking for an effective way to remove weeds, algae, muck and debris from the pond bottom or beach, this versatile 36”-wide rake is indispensable. It comes with an 11’, two-piece aluminum handle for reach and a detachable float with 20’ of polypropylene rope, making it perfect for throwing and easy retrieval. As an added benefit, simply shorten the handle, and you have a professional-grade landscaping rake for dressing beach sand.

Weed Raker. One of the longest and deepest-digging lake rakes in the industry, this rake easily removes submerged lake and pond weeds right down to the root. It’s also superb for removing dead, decaying matter at the pond bottom to make short work of muck.

In smaller ponds and water features, pond skimmers can also help to remove debris – but they’re ineffective at large-scale debris removal in larger ponds, where water levels fluctuate and surface area is too large to allow all debris to reach the skimmer.

When you’re through cutting and raking aquatic growth from your pond, it’s also important to remove the results. If left in the water, cuttings will sink to the bottom, where they accumulate, form muck, and provide a natural growing environment for — you guessed it – more weeds.

Pond Talk: Which tools work best to keep your pond clean?

Lake Rake/Weed Eradicator Combo

We just purchased a house that had a pond, it hasn’t been taken care of, where do we start? | Pond & Lakes Q&A

We just purchased a house that had a pond, it hasn't been taken care of, where do we start?

We just purchased a house that had a pond, it hasn’t been taken care of, where do we start?
Tony – Romeo, MI

If you’ve ever adopted a stray pet, you already have a general sense of what it’s like to become the keeper of a long-neglected pond. Like the stray, the pond probably looks like it’s been reclaimed by nature: rough around the edges, none too attractive, and probably a bit more of a commitment than you’d ordinarily take on without a lot of advance planning.

But like a scrawny stray, a neglected pond is often a diamond in the rough – waiting for the loving attention of a caring keeper to really show its true colors. And with the right products from The Pond Guy, the transformation from primeval bog to backyard showplace is much easier than you’ve imagined.

The first step in reclaiming your pond is to evaluate the status quo. With a quick inventory, you’ll determine if it’s full of weeds, if there’s any aeration, and if there are any fish who call it home.

For maximum initial impact, proper aeration is critical. If it’s missing, weeds thrive, algae blooms, and both fish and healthy plants struggle for survival. At The Pond Guy, you’ll find exactly what your pond needs with one of our Airmax Aeration Systems. Designed to suit the size and depth characteristics of your pond, the right system will begin the process of making your pond a safe, healthy habitat for the fish and plants that make ponds a pleasure.

Once the aeration is up and running, you’ll need to tackle the weeds and algae with our safe, powerful herbicides and algaecides. Our most powerful weapon in the fight to restore a pond’s health is our ClearPAC and ClearPAC Plus products, which combine the benefits of beautiful, Nature’s Blue dye and Algae Defense algaecide, the muck reducing power of our PondClear natural bacteria and our beneficial EcoBoost phosphate binder, which reduces phosphate levels to make water clear and healthy for fish, wildlife and anyone else wanting to use the pond.

ClearPac Plus also includes MuckAway to eliminate the muck that accumulates at the bottom after long periods without proper pond care. By following the simple steps included with ClearPac, you’ll see marked improvement in no time, with steady improvement over the course of several weeks of treatment.

For ponds that haven’t suffered long-term neglect, our Algae Defense and PondWeed Defense tackle specific problem areas quickly and effectively.

Pond Talk: Have you taken on the task of reviving an old pond?

Pond Logic ClearPAC

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