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Keeping Cattails At Bay in and Around Your Pond – Pond & Lake Q & A

Cattails

Pond & Lake Q & A

Q: The cattails in my pond are out of control. How do I control them without disturbing the wildlife? - Richard of Minnesota

A: One of the most common of all aquatic plants, cattails can proliferate if left unchecked. Growing from 3 to 10 feet tall in dense colonies around the margins of ponds and lakes, the plants’ strap-like foliage emerges from large, creeping rhizomes in the muddy bottom in the spring. Soon, the cattail’s foliage and spikes, or the plant’s brown cylindrical flower, grow, eventually spreading its seeds and propagating new plants throughout the lake.

Though they can be a pest, a small controlled 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, and eventually dry land.

Controlling cattails is a simple three-step process: You’ll need to spray a herbicide, cut the cattails down and remove them.

1. Spray: The most common way to control cattails is to apply an EPA-registered herbicide and surfactant product, like the Avocet & Cide-Kick Combo. Read the product labels for proper dosage rates, but to treat a 2,500-square-foot area of cattails, mix 8 ounces of Avocet and 4 ounces of Cide-Kick with 2 gallon of water, pour into pond sprayer (like the Airmax Pond Sprayer) and apply onto the water surface where the cattails are growing. Allow the mixture to absorb into the plant and the root system, the most difficult part of the plant to kill, for one to two weeks.

2. Cut: 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, use an aquatic weed cutter to cut at the base of the plants, allowing for easier removal. If you can control your pond’s or lake’s water line, you can also cut the cattails 2 to 3 inches below the water surface to cut off the plant’s supply of oxygen and drown the plant.

3. Remove: Use a pond and beach rake to remove the cut cattails. You can compost them, burn them or dispose of them at your local green waste disposal site.

To completely eradicate cattails in a pond, this process may need to be repeated several times. 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.

POND TALK: How do you control cattails in your pond?

Controlling Emergent Weeds – Pond & Lake Q & A

Picture of cattails with a pond in the background.

Pond & Lake Q & A

Q: What do I use to kill the emergent weeds on the shoreline? What sprayer should I purchase? NOTE: My kids swim in pond. – James of Wisconsin

A: At first sight or when controlled properly, cattails and other emergent weeds can add natural beauty, structure for fish and act as a buffer to reduce nutrients and sediment caused by runoff. But, beware! Emergent weeds can take over a pond very quickly if left alone for too long. It is best to pick an area of emergent weeds that you are acceptable with and mark it with boulders or other pieces of landscape. This will allow you to control only the emergent weeds that grow outside your acceptable boundary. There are 3 simple steps to control emergent weeds: 1) Spray… 2) Cut… 3) Repeat…

1.) Spray - Select the best product for the job. Avocet is best at providing long-term control for all types of grasses and cattails while Kraken is best for phragmites and/or purple loosestrife. Both Avocet and Kraken are sprayed directly on to the target plant with a tank sprayer (We suggest using the Airmax Pond Sprayer). This will allow you to control all areas or select areas that you have set aside for this type of growth. Also note: Both Avocet & Kraken have no swimming use restrictions.

2) Cut – Emergent weeds can sometimes have a root base deep within the ground so removing them before they are completely dead will allow them to come back very quickly. Most emergent weeds are best treated when the foliage is around 12″ high. This will allow enough contact for the aquatic herbicide. After a successful treatment, they will turn brown and become limp within 7-14 days. After this occurs, use an Aquatic Weed Cutter to cut the weeds at their base and then simply rake them out with the Pond & Beach Rake.

3) Repeat – Repeat these steps as necessary. In some cases it may take several applications to gain control.

How Do I Get Rid of Muskrats? – Pond & Lake Q & A

Picture of a Muskrat

Q: How do I get rid of muskrats? They keep creating tunnels in the sides of our pond.
- Several Customers

A: Muskrats can be a huge annoyance when it comes to having a farm pond. A muskrat can lower the water level by building a tunnel from the side of the pond to a nearby ditch or by opening up veins underneath a clay base. Also, attached to this tunnel is a den for the family of muskrats which can cause unstable ground in those areas. So how do you get rid of these things? Well, there are a couple of different techniques.

1) Disrupt Their Diet: A muskrat eats aquatic vegetation like cattails, sedges, rushes, water lilies and pond weeds. In some areas it may also eat clams, mussels, snails, crayfish, small fish and frogs. Keeping your pond clear of excess vegetation such as cattails, grasses, rushes, etc will disrupt a muskrat’s diet. The best way to rid your pond of these emergent plants is to use Avocet & Cide Kick. Simply mix the two products together in a pond sprayer and spray directly on the target plants. Allow 1-2 weeks for complete control. When the plants are dead (they will turn brown) remove them with the Weed Rake & Cutter.
Dead vegetation makes a great nesting area, so be sure to remove it!

2) Disrupt Their Environment: Muskrats prefer ponds with four to six feet of still or slow-moving water. Although adding depth to pond may not be a simple option, adding an Aeration System is. An Aeration System will not only provide the circulation needed to deter muskrats but will help to disrupt their diet by reducing weed growth as well.

Muskrat Facts: The muskrat is a very good swimmer. Muskrats can stay underwater for as long as 15 minutes. In the southern states they may breed year-round. In the northern states the mating season runs from March through August. Muskrats have up to five litters a year, giving birth to up to nine young each time! The average lifespan of a muskrat in the wild is three or four years.

Controlling Frog Population – Pond & Lake Q & A

Picture of Frog

Q: My pond is filled with hundreds of frogs, really loud frogs. What is the best way to decrease the frog population?
- Diane of Metamora, IL

A: Ahhh, frogs. Its nice to have a few frogs here or there to jump in the pond as you walk by, but if the population gets over bearing, all of a sudden they become a huge annoyance. Frogs can be very loud, especially when there is an excessive amount of frogs present. If you would like to keep the frogs population down here are a couple of things you can do:

1.) Frogs love to hide in cattails or any other emergent weeds around a pond’s shoreline. A clear shore will usually have a lesser population of frogs. Simply use the Avocet & Cide-Kick Combo to control shoreline emergent weeds and grasses.

2.) Bass – Simply adding bass to your pond is a great way to control excessive amounts of frogs. Bass will utilize the frogs as another food source.

Controlling Cattails & Phragmites – Pond & Lake Q & A

Picture of Cattails & Phragmites

Q: How do you control emergent cattails & phragmites around my pond? -Several Customers from across the US

A: At first site, cattails and phragmites seem to add a natural look to your farm pond. But before you know it, they grow out of control and wrap around the pond causing a very unappealing look. Here are 3 Easy Steps to killing cattails, phragmites or other emergents: Spray … Cut … Remove.

1.) Spray - The best products to use to get rid of emergent weeds is the Avocet & Cide-Kick Combo. It it always best to read the product labels for dosage rates, but a great suggestion is to mix 8 oz Avocet, with 4 oz Cide-Kick, with 2 gallons of water into a pond sprayer. This recommendation will treat approximately 2,500 sq. ft. of emergent weeds. It is best to spray when cattails or phragmites are around 12″ high or taller. Before cutting and removing, it is recommended to wait a week and a half to allow the chemical to get into the root system. By not allowing this time to pass or cutting too early will allow the root system to stay alive.

2.) Cut – Use a Weed Cutter to cut at the base of the cattails/phragmites. This will allow for easier removal.

3.) Remove – Use a Pond & Beach Rake to assist in removing the of the cut cattails/phragmites.

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