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I have a lot of water lilies in my 1/2 acre pond. How do I control them? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I have a lot of water lilies in my 1/2 acre pond. How do I control them?

Q: I have a lot of water lilies in my 1/2 acre pond. How do I control them?

Dan – Newnan, GA

A: In ornamental ponds, water lilies planted in pots are prized possessions—but in a shallow farm pond or lake, lilies living wild can be an invasive species that takes over the water surface in no time.

Of course, water lilies aren’t all bad. Their leaves and roots provide food for beaver, moose, muskrat, porcupine, and deer. Their seeds are gobbled by waterfowl, and their leaves provide protective coverage for largemouth bass, sunfish, and frogs. Left unmanaged, however, water lilies can restrict lake-front access, eliminate swimming opportunities and quickly take over shallow areas.

But before we get into how to control these beautiful but troublesome aquatic plants, let’s learn a bit about them.

Habitat, Growth

The water lily is a floating-leaved aquatic perennial herb that grows rooted in mucky or silty sediments in water 4 to 5 feet deep. It prefers quiet waters like ponds, lake margins and slow streams. When unmanaged, the plant tends to form dense areas covering hundreds of acres.

Each spring, new shoots appear from the rhizomes and grow up through the water until they reach the surface. The flowers appear from June to September. Each blossom opens in the morning and closes in the early afternoon for two to five consecutive days. After the flowers have closed for the final time, the flower stalk corkscrews and draws the developing fruit below the water.

The plant over winters underground as the rhizome. These rhizomes, along with the plant’s seeds, are how it reproduces. A planted rhizome can grow to cover a 15-foot-diameter circle in just five years!

Limiting Those Lilies

You can control water lilies with several different methods.

  • Mechanical Control: First, you can cut/harvest the water lilies or dig up the rhizomes to create open areas of water. If you cut the lilies, you must do so several times a year as these plants thrive in shallow water and grow rapidly. If you dig up the rhizomes, it can be an intrusive and costly though permanent process; they can be difficult to dislodge, but it can be done via rotovation (underwater rototilling) or excavation. Either way, mechanical control is a difficult method because the plant will likely regrow from seeds or remaining rhizomes.
  • Chemical Control: Another more effective method is to use reactive chemical treatment, like Shoreline Defense®, to manage lilies that are actively growing and have reached the surface. When applied directly to the foliage—along with some Treatment Booster™ PLUS to break down the plant’s protective surface—the herbicide’s active ingredient penetrates the lily and makes its way to the rhizome. Once it has turned brown, use a Weed Cutter to remove as much of the decomposing plant as possible to prevent an accumulation of dead material and muck. If you use this method, treat your pond in sections, dosing only half of the lilies at a time; if the weather is hot, decrease that to a third or quarter, waiting 10 to 14 days between treatments.
  • Preventive Control: In addition to mechanical and chemical control, you can also prevent—or at least slow down—the growth of water lilies by treating the pond’s water with Pond Dye. By blocking the sun’s rays early in the season, the lilies will not get the light they need to develop.

Controlling water lilies can be a challenge. But these methods, you can manage them and keep them contained in a particular area, making them a beautiful addition to your landscape.

Pond Talk: How do you control wild water lilies in your farm pond or lake?

Kill Water Lilies and Other Emergent Weeds - Pond Logic(r) Shoreline Defense(r)

Do I treat phragmites the same as I treat cattails? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: Do I treat phragmites the same as I treat cattails?

Q: Do I treat phragmites the same as I treat cattails?

Ben – Clio, MI

A: Phragmites are trouble. These perennial, warm-season grasses are an invasive species in many parts of the country. When the dense stands take over a lake or wetland area, they can cause adverse ecological, economic and social impacts – including reduced access to your swimming or fishing hole and increased fire danger.

Before we discuss how to control these weeds, also termed “common reed,” let’s learn a bit more about them.

Phragmites 101

In their information-packed booklet titled, A Guide to the Control and Management of Invasive Phragmites, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and Michigan Department of Natural Resources describes phragmites as plants that can reach 15 feet in height with flat, stiff, tapering leaves. During growing season, the plant grows gray-green foliage and purple-brown-silver seed head plumes at the end of long stocks, which appear in late July. In the fall, the foliage turns tan and falls off, leaving behind the stock and plume-topped shoot throughout the winter.

But the worst part of phragmites is its rhizome and root system, which can grow to an incredible 60 feet in length and 6 feet deep. More than 80 percent of the plant’s yearly biomass is contained below ground, making it very difficult to treat and control.

Managing the Biomass

To eliminate phragmites, you have to attack the right portion of the plant at the right time within its life cycle. Here’s what we recommend.

  1. Herbicide Treatment: In the late summer, early fall when the phragmites are flowering, treat them with an herbicide. We recommend Shoreline Defense® to control cattails and for partial control of phragmites. When using an herbicide, make sure you use Treatment Booster™ PLUS, which contains a surfactant that will help the chemicals enter the plant’s system faster.
  2. Remove the Dead Weeds: In two to three weeks, after the weeds have died, cut them down with a Weed Cutter and manually remove the dead weeds – including the seed heads and rhizomes, which should be bagged and thrown away.
  3. Controlled Burn: In situations where it can be used safely and effectively, a prescribed fire is an effective and ecologically sound method for controlling phragmites. It’s critical, however, to first treat the area with herbicides and then follow-up with the controlled burn the following year in the late summer, according to the DEQ. Work closely with your local departments to ensure safety, proper permits are in order and timing is correct.

For more information about removing these invasive weeds and reclaiming your pond or late, contact your local Department of Natural Resources or Department of Environmental Quality. They have a wealth of knowledge and know-how to help.

Pond Talk: Have you successfully battled phragmites? What was your strategy?

Why can’t I use lawn weed killers to clean up my pond’s shoreline? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: Why can’t I use lawn weed killers to clean up my pond’s shoreline?

Q: Why can’t I use lawn weed killers to clean up my pond’s shoreline?

Kevin – Heath, OH

A: If you read the fine print on your favorite lawn weed killer and your favorite aquatic shoreline weed killer, you’ll notice that they both contain the same active ingredient—glyphosate. This broad-spectrum herbicide works wonders in destroying actively growing foliage. In fact, it’s one of the most popular weed destroyers out there.

Inert Ingredients

Just because the lawn weed killer and shoreline weed killer have the same active ingredient, however, doesn’t mean you can use them interchangeably. You see, the inert or inactive ingredients used in the formulas are different. Those different ingredients make the shoreline chemicals safe around bodies of water and lawn chemicals unsafe around bodies of water.

By law, these differences and designated uses must be noted on the herbicide’s label. The Environmental Protection Agency approves the label and warns consumers of any dangers. In fact, if you continue to read that fine print on your lawn weed killer’s label, you’ll find it says to not apply the product on or around water sources.

Stay Legal

If you’re treating weeds around your pond or lake, be sure to use one that has been approved for use around water bodies, like Shoreline Defense® and Treatment Booster™ PLUS. When applied directly to the foliage, the aquatic herbicide safely destroys a range of weeds and grasses—including cattails—on the shoreline, beach or anywhere emergent weeds grow.

Like it or not, you should read your labels and use the right formula for the job. You’ll be keeping your water supply safe, the government happy and your land legal.

Pond Talk: How carefully do you read the fine print on your lawn and aquatic herbicide’s labels?

Safely Treat Shoreline Weeds & Grasses - Pond Logic® Shoreline Defense® & Treatment Booster™ PLUS

When can I start treating my shoreline for new cattail growth? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: When can I start treating my shoreline for new cattail growth?

Q: When can I start treating my shoreline for new cattail growth?

Charlie – Bottineau, ND

A: When the wall of cattails comes between you and your recreational pond or lake, it’s time to retake control of your shoreline! Once the cattails are 18 inches above the water’s surface, you can start treating the new growth.

Here’s how we recommend managing cattails:

Set Boundaries

Not all cattails are bad. They provide a habitat for wildlife, like amphibians, insects, birds and fish. Their below-the-ground rhizomes stop soil erosion. And their green strap-like foliage, which stands 3 to 10 feet tall, adds beachfront privacy. So rather than totally eradicate cattails from your pond or lake, set boundaries for them and treat them when they stray.

Chemical Control

The most common way to control cattails is to apply an EPA-registered herbicide like Shoreline Defense® with a pressurized pond sprayer to the foliage of actively growing plants. The product is absorbed by the weed, ultimately killing it all the way down to its roots. It’s a perfect solution for beaches, shorelines or anywhere emergent weeds grow.

Physical Removal

Once the herbicide has had a chance to fully soak into the cattail’s root system, the plant will turn brown and become limp. At this point, you should remove the stalks. Why? Those dead cattails and decomposing foliage will turn into muck—which will act as a fertilizer for next season’s cattails. Cut the stalks using The Pond Guy® Weed Cutter and or the Jenlis Weed Razer™ Pro at the base of the plants, allowing for easier removal with your Rake.

Stay in Control

Cattails have extensive root systems, and so staying on top of their growth is key to preventing them from turning into a cattail wall—and taking over your shoreline!

Pond Talk: What critters live in your stand of cattails?

Kill Cattails To Their Roots - Pond Logic® Shoreline Defense® & Treatment Booster™ PLU

How do I know which chemicals will treat my weeds? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: How do I know which chemicals will treat my weeds?

Q: How do I know which chemicals will treat my weeds?

Henry – Markesan, WI

A: Weeds. Whether they’re algae or submerged, floating or shoreline plants, they’re a nuisance—not to mention a potential hazard to your game fish and pond or lake health. In order to manage these green invaders, you should get to know them a little better. Don’t worry: you don’t need to be a Master Gardener to identify and treat them. Here’s all you need to know:

1. Know the Weeds

Before you start dumping chemicals on the weeds in your pond, you’ll first need to understand the different types of aquatic weeds that pop up in lakes or ponds. There are four basic categories:

  • Algae. Algae comes in three basic types: Planktonic, which causes the pea soup look in your water; filamentous, which creates blankets of stringy stuff or pond scum; and chara or muskgrass, which smells like musky garlic. When you take a closer look, these weeds have no defined root systems, unlike their other weed cousins.
  • Submerged. Submerged weeds live underwater. This group of troublemakers includes bladderwort, several types of pondweed, watermilfoil, parrot feather and hydrilla. They look like a typical plant, with leaves, stems and root systems.
  • Floating. Floating weeds generally reside in shallow water and have root systems that reach into the water or down into the soil, allowing their leaves and flowers to rise to the surface. They include watermeal, duckweed, azolla and even water lilies. When not kept in check, these floaters can take over a pond in no time.
  • Emergent. Emergent weeds live along your lake’s shoreline. These plants like to keep their feet wet; their foliage, leaves and flowers live out of water, but their root systems prefer wet, almost completely saturated soil. Emergent weeds include cattails, phragmites, purple loosestrife and bulrush.

2. ID the Weed

Once you identify the category of weed you’re dealing with, head over to our Weed Control Guide and try to match weed with the picture. For example, is it a floating plant with a root system? Then you’re dealing with a type of floating weed. Is it completely submerged? Then you’re dealing with a type of submerged weed.

Each weed included in our Weed Control Guide will describe the best treatment options to manage it. Not sure of the weed? Snap a close-up photo and e-mail it to us at weedid@thepondguy.com. Of course, you can always call us toll-free for advice, too, at 866-POND-HELP (766-3435)!

3. Treat the Weed

Once you’ve ID’d the weed, treat it with its appropriate herbicide, remembering to always follow label instructions when applying it to your pond or lake. If you have fish in your pond, we suggest treating in sections as sudden changes in water conditions can affect aquatic species. Treat 1/4 – 1/2 of pond at a time, while waiting 10-14 days between treatments.

4. Remove the Remains

Once the chemicals start working to kill the weeds, make sure you remove the decomposing foliage with a weed rake, like the Jenlis Weed Razer™ Aquatic Weed Cutter. Why? Because anything dead will turn into muck and start the weed/algae cycle again—which is not something you want to happen, right?

Pond Talk: What tips do you have for managing aquatic weeds?

Broad Spectrum Pondweed Control - Pond Logic® Ultra PondWeed Defense®

Four Handy Pond Tools to Keep Around | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Four Handy Pond Tools to Keep Around

Four Handy Pond Tools to Keep Around

Who doesn’t love tools? They’re cool to look at, fun to play with – and, the best part, they help make chores easy. When it comes to maintaining your pond or lake, tools of all shapes and sizes will come in very handy, particularly these four must-haves, below.

Pond Rake

A pond rake pulls, gathers and removes dead debris from the surface or the bottom of a pond.

Debris on the surface of a pond, like algae or fallen leaves, can sink to the bottom and start to decay, adding to the muck and detritus that’s already there. All that debris degrades water quality, compromises fish health, provides a nutrient source for nuisance plants, and can even affect chemical treatments’ ability to work.

A floating/sub-surface pond rake, like the The Pond Guy® Pond & Beach Rake, or a sub-surface pond rake, like the Jenlis Weed Raker™, lends a long helping hand. Elongated by rope so you can easily get the deep-water growth, both rakes work by removing submerged lake and pond weeds by their roots, slowing their spread.

Weed Cutter

A weed cutter, like The Pond Guy® Weed Cutter and the Jenlis Weed Razer™, mechanically slices through weeds at their stems so they can then be raked out.

The 28-inch, double-sided Weed Cutter features a two-piece, rust-proof, powder-coated aluminum handle that’s 11 feet long. It’s great for removing floating aquatic vegetation, marginal weeds and cattails that extend past the pond’s edge.

The V-shaped Jenlis Weed Razer™ clears a 4-foot-wide path in pond weeds by sinking to the bottom and slicing through submerged weeds like watermilfoil, cattails and lily pads as you pull it across the pond. The razor-sharp tool weighs just 8 pounds, making it light enough to toss 30 feet or more yet heavy enough to sink straight to the bottom.

Sprayer

A sprayer makes pond chemical application easy. Most liquid chemicals are more effective when they’re sprayed over the target weed, and a tank sprayer, like The Pond Guy® Specialty Pond Sprayer, is designed just for this purpose. The 2.75-gallon pond tool features a wide-mouth fill top that minimizes accidental spills, a brass corrosive-resistant handle, and a high-pressure tank that allows you to spray hard-to-reach weeds.

Invest in a separate sprayer just for pond chemicals. If you use lawn and garden chemicals in the same sprayer that you use on your pond, doing so can be toxic to fish and other aquatic life as residue could be left behind. Keep your fish and pond plants healthy and happy: Use a different tool for the job.

Granular Spreader

The final must-have tool is a granular spreader, which helps you disperse granular herbicides evenly over your target area – and that means a more effective weed kill-off. The rust-proof Earthway® Granular Hand Spreader holds 10 pounds of material in a large hopper and features an application adjuster that lets you control how much product is released with its smooth-action hand crank.

Pond Talk: If you could only have one pond-care tool in your toolbox, what would it be? Why?

Remove Weeds & Debris - Pond Rake & Weed Cutter

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 and Pond & Beach 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.

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