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I’ve inherited an overgrown pond. How can I whip it back into shape? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

I’ve inherited an overgrown pond. How can I whip it back into shape?

Q: I’ve inherited an overgrown pond. How can I whip it back into shape?

Kent – Maurice, LA

A: Congratulations! You just purchased your dream property with rolling fields, lush green trees and a gorgeous lake or pond – or at least that’s how you remembered it when you signed the loan documents.

But once you move in and take a closer look at the situation, you realize that gorgeous lake is an overgrown nightmare. Believe it or not, this is not an uncommon scenario. Many new land owners purchase property with a lake or a pond only to discover it hasn’t been well maintained.

Of course, you want to reclaim that overgrown pond and turn it into a useable recreation or livestock watering area, but where do you begin? Check out these six tips for whipping your lake back into shape.

1. Evaluate the Situation

Your first task is to evaluate the pond itself and record what you find. What is its size, shape and depth? Is there an abundance of weeds? Can you find an aeration system? Are there fish living in the pond? Jot down as many details as you can, because they will be important when deciding what kinds of product to use to regain control of your lake. The more you know, the better.

2. Install Aeration

Next, install an aeration system. Aeration, which circulates oxygen throughout the water column, will go a long way toward improving the health of your pond while you regain control of the habitat and work to maintain it. Plus, your fish and the natural bacteria living in the pond rely on the mechanical water turnover to replenish the oxygen supply and remove harmful gasses like ammonia.

3. Identify Weeds and Treat Them

What weeds are growing in your pond? To help you identify the greenery and determine whether they’re beneficial plants or nuisances, check out The Pond Guy® weed control guide. Once you have the plants ID’d, you can then select the proper chemicals and the right amount to handle the job. Start treating the weeds with a suitable algaecide or herbicide once your aeration system is well established.

4. Rake Out Dead Debris

Yes, it seems like a tough job, but you will need to rake out and remove dead debris, like fallen leaves, cattails and other decomposing organic materials with a weed cutter and rake, like the Weed Cutter and Pond & Beach Rake. The hard work will pay off in the long run. The more large debris you remove, the less work your muck-destroying beneficial bacteria and aeration system will need to do – and the faster your pond will get back into tip-top shape.

5. Maintain, Maintain, Maintain

To keep your pond or lake on the fast track to being clean, clear and usable, you must keep up on the maintenance chores. Remove the years of pond muck buildup with natural bacteria or phosphate binder, like those found in Pond Logic® ClearPAC® PLUS pond care package. Continue to remove dead and decomposing debris as your herbicides kill nuisance weeds. Add pond dye for aesthetic appeal and to slow algae growth. Now that you have the overgrown pond under control, don’t let it get away from you!

6. Be Patient and Persistent

Despite your efforts, it will take time to reclaim your pond or lake – so be realistic about your expectations. Consider the pond’s age and the amount of debris it has accumulated over the years. If it took a decade or more for the pond to look it way it did, it will take more than one afternoon of hard work to make it pristine again! Be patient and persistent. You’ll have that gorgeous pond in no time.

Pond Talk: If you’ve purchased property with a pond or lake, what kind of condition was it in and what did you do to make it usable?

Airmax® Aeration Systems - Reduce 90 Percent of Nutrients in 90 Days

Why can’t I treat my pond with the common weed killer I use around my yard? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Why can’t I treat my pond with the common weed killer I use around my yard?

Q: Why can’t I treat my pond with the common weed killer I use around my yard?

Duane – Spring Grove, PA

A: It may seem like a convenience and a cost savings to use your terrestrial weed herbicides to treat weeds in your pond or lake. But when it comes to managing nuisance growth in and around your pond, not all chemicals are created equally.

Though broad-spectrum-use herbicides like diuron work great on grassy terrestrial weeds, they’re not approved for use on cattails and water milfoil because of the direct contact with public waterways or possibility of leaching into drinking/ground water. Instead, you need to use products that are registered by the Environmental Protection Agency for aquatic use, like Algae Defense®, Aquathol® and Shoreline Defense® aquatic herbicides.

Why the regulations? Read on for details.

Environmental Protection

The EPA registers products like herbicides for aquatic use to protect the environment. Its goal is to minimize harm while maximizing results.

The government agency tests the ingredients’ concentration, frequency of use and effectiveness for their short-term and long-term effects in their intended environment. It also checks the chemicals’ half life, which is how long the substances remain in the environment before breaking down enough to be considered non-toxic.

Safer for Your Pond Visitors

If you use unapproved chemicals in your pond or lake, you could be doing harm to not only the ecosystem but also to your fish, your livestock and wildlife, your soil and, most importantly, to yourself, your family and your neighbors.

Herbicides that have been approved by the EPA include specific restrictions and precautions on their labels about consuming fish after treating bodies of water. They caution against swimming in or drinking from treated ponds within a certain amount of time after application. They even warn of soil contamination issues that landowners or pond professionals should be aware of.

Chemicals that are not approved for aquatic use have none of these warnings because they have not been tested for their effects on the pond habitat. In fact, some products can actually be considered a contaminant to the aquatic environment – and you don’t want that, right?

Obey the EPA

Even if you don’t consume your game fish, swim in your lake or drink the water, you should steer clear of unapproved chemicals. Some of them can leach into the soil surrounding the pond or be released during heavy rains when ponds flood. That runoff – including the potentially toxic chemicals – can then be released into the public waterways or wetlands used by neighbors.

Play it safe. Obey the EPA.

Pond Talk: What do you think of the EPA’s regulation of aquatic herbicides?

Is there an easier way to get rid of weeds? I’m tired of pulling them by hand. | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Is there an easier way to get rid of weeds? I’m tired of pulling them by hand.

Q: Is there an easier way to get rid of weeds? I’m tired of pulling them by hand.

Beverly – Richfield, WI

A: 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 and 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 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 The Pond Guy® 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 an The Pond Guy® Specialty Pressurized Pond Chemical Tank Sprayer, is designed just for this purpose. The 2.75-gallon pond tool features a wide-mouth fill top that minimizes accidental spills 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?

The Pond Guy® Pond & Beach Rake - Remove Weeds & Muck Build Up

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 Shoreline Defense®, using a pressurized pond sprayer, such as the The Pond Guy® 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 Shoreline Defense® with 2 gallons of water and 4 ounces of Treatment Booster™ Plus, 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 Weed Cutter or the Jenlis Weed Razer™ 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?

How Do I Get Rid Of Phragmites? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

How Do I Get Rid Of Phragmites?

Robert – Steamboat Springs, CO

Phragmites, also known as common reeds, are wetland grasses that can grow up to 15 feet in height. They quickly become a nuisance because they form dense patches that choke out native plant and wildlife species, block shoreline views, and reduce access for swimming and fishing.

Completely eliminating phragmites takes several treatments. The majority of the plant is an extensive underground root system that is very difficult to fully eliminate. You can control the density and spread of phragmites with regular chemical treatments applied with a pond sprayer. Consider using an herbicide such as Shoreline Defense®, which carries no restrictions on recreational use or livestock consumption of water from the treatment area.

Once phragmites have died, you should cut or burn the dead vegetation. The best time to treat phragmites is the summer when the plant is actively growing and seeding.

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 and Weed Cutter 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 Shoreline Defense® 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 and Weed Cutter to remove the dead plants and prevent their potential to spread.

While Shoreline Defense® 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  and Weed Cutter

I’m going to use my pond for skating over the winter. What do I need to do to store my aeration system? I’m going to use my pond for skating over the winter. What do I need to do to store my aeration system? | Pond & Lake Q&A

I’m going to use my pond for skating over the winter. What do I need to do to store my aeration system?

I’m going to use my pond for skating over the winter. What do I need to do to store my aeration system?
Wayne – Pontiac, MI

One of the great joys of a backyard pond is its four-season versatility. After three seasons of aesthetic satisfaction, there’s nothing better than strapping on a pair of skates and hitting the water when it hardens up for the winter. But before the temperatures drop, your aeration system demands some seasonal attention.

As a rule, it’s okay to keep your aeration system in operation until ice begins to form. When that day arrives, it’s time to shut the aerator off. At that point, you’ll want to put the compressor and its housing in a cool, dry place to avoid exposure to the elements, where dramatic weather changes can cause condensation that may cause damage. To accomplish this step, first disconnect the compressor from the airline. Be sure to cap the exposed end of the airline, leaving the remaining line buried, and diffuser plates in the pond.

When the aeration season is over, it’s a great time to perform regular maintenance. Consider changing your air filter. Choose a high quality replacement, like our Airmax® SilentAir™ Complete Filter Assembly, and install new Airmax® SilentAir™ Replacement Air Filter Elements if your filter is in good enough shape for another season.

If you’ve noticed that your compressor is producing less air than it should, you may want to consider the use of a Maintenance Kit to boost the compressors performance or inspect the diffusers and replace any damaged diffuser membranes. If you’re still using air stones, it’s the perfect time to upgrade to Airmax® Membrane Diffuser Sticks, which are easy to install, and virtually maintenance free.

Happy skating.

Pond Talk: Do you run your aeration system throughout the winter or store it for the season?

Airmax® Aeration Air Filter

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