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We had a couple of warm days. Is there anything I can do to get my pond ready for spring? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: We had a couple of warm days. Is there anything I can do to get my pond ready for spring?

Q: We had a couple of warm days. Is there anything I can do to get my pond ready for spring?

Jo – Armarillo, TX

A: We may have another month of winter ahead of us, but that doesn’t mean you can’t head out to the pond on sunny days and get a jump-start on your spring cleaning and maintenance chores. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Tidy Things Up
    Rain, snow, wind and winter precipitation do a number on landscaping, so take some time to clean up the foliage around your pond. Remove fallen branches, rake leaves and debris, cut down cattails and pull out any pond weeds you can reach. Two great all-purpose tools to use for the task are the Weed Cutter and the  Pond & Beach Rake. The cutter slices through floating debris like aquatic vegetation, weeds, cattails and phragmites; the rake, which works on land and in the water, allows you to mechanically remove those cut weeds, algae, muck and debris.
  2. Inspect Mechanical Parts
    Sunshine is a perfect excuse to tinker with outside toys, like your aeration system. Head out to the pond and check your air filters. Do they need changing? How’s the airflow from the lines? Is it what you expect? Is your air compressor operating properly? If needed, install new air filters, clean out your lines, and tune up your air compressor with replacement washers and fittings from your maintenance kit. Keep your system performing optimally – even if it’s still winter.
  3. Check Your Pond’s Temperature
    Using your water thermometer, check the water temperature in your pond or lake. If it reads above 50°F, you can start treating the water with ClearPAC® PLUS products like PondClear™ and  MuckAway™. The beneficial bacteria in PondClear™ will go to work removing excess nutrients, clearing up suspended organic waste and preventing noxious odors from surfacing. The beneficial bacteria in  MuckAway™ will digest stinky pond muck that coats the bottom of your pond or lake. Don’t start treating algae; however, until water temperatures top 60° F.

Pond Talk: What’s the first thing you plan to do with your pond or lake when spring finally arrives?

Keep Your Pond Clean and Clear All Season - Pond Logic(r) ClearPAC(r) PLUS

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 typically recommend Shoreline Defense® to control cattails, but sometimes it only provides partial control of phragmites. In those cases, use Kraken™. When you use either 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?

Treat Nuisance Weeds & Phragmites - Kraken™ Aquatic Herbicide & Treatment Booster™ PLUS

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 pondhelp@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 WeedRazer® 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®

What can I do to maintain my lakefront property? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

What can I do to maintain my lakefront property?

Q: What can I do to maintain my lakefront property?

John – Beltsville, MD

A: Ahhh … waking up to the sun rising over your slice of a tranquil lake sounds divine—and it makes sense that you’d want to keep that piece of heaven pristine.

So what can you do to maintain it?

If you live by a large lake, pond dye may not be a feasible way to beautify your shoreline. But here are a few things you can do to help promote a healthy lakefront.

  • Use Natural Bacteria: You can apply beneficial bacteria, like those found in Pond Logic® MuckAway™, to shoreline areas to promote muck removal around your dock or beach. The bacteria consume the accumulated organic debris, improving water clarity and eliminating smell.
  • Install Circulators: Dock-mounted or float-mounted circulators , like the Kasco Circulator with Horizontal Float, can help speed up muck decomposition and guide muck away from a boat well or shorefront by moving the water and adding oxygen to it.
  • Control Weeds: If pesky phragmites grow on your lakefront, you can spray them with aquatic herbicides and cut them back with a weed cutter, like the Pond Logic® Weed Cutter & Beach Rake. Weed control will discourage critters and mosquito populations from moving in.

What’s the Catch?

Well, the catch is that treating a lakefront property is trickier than treating your private backyard pond or lake. Because you’re affecting water that you share with wildlife and other homeowners, you will need to contact your local environmental quality department for permission to treat the area with bacteria or chemicals. Once you get the OK, you can treat away!

Another option is to hire a licensed herbicide applicator in your area. These businesses can assist you with the permit process—and some can even be hired to maintain the area for you so you can spend more time lounging by the lake.

Pond Talk: If you live lakefront, what have you done to improve your beach or shoreline area?

Naturally Eliminate Pond Muck - Pond Logic® MuckAway™

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 Pond Logic® Algae Defense®, PondWeed Defense® and Avocet® PLX 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?

Pond Logic PondWeed Defense - Eliminate Aquatic Weeds

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 Pond Logic® 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 Pond Logic® Weed Cutter and the Jenlis WeedRazer®, mechanically slices through weeds at their stems so they can then be raked out.

The 28-inch, double-sided Pond Logic® 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 WeedRazer™ 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 Airmax® 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, 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?

Pond Logic Pond & Beach Rake - Remove Weeds & Muck Build Up

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

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

I have phragmites in my pond, and they are so aggressive they even outgrow the cattails. What should I do? | Pond & Lakes Q&A

I have phragmites in my pond, and they are so aggressive they even outgrow the cattails. What should I do?

I have phragmites in my pond, and they are so aggressive they even outgrow the cattails. What should I do?
Kandy – Portland, OR

Phragmites are the worst kind of uninvited guest: once it makes its appearance, it’s too late to give it the slip. For those who have experienced phragmites, they’ll attest to its tenacity. They’ll also attest to its heartiness. Unlike the plants you’re actually trying to grow in your pond, phragmites requires no care and feeding at all – and it’s remarkably adept at withstanding any effort to slow it down. .

Characterized by a green stalk with purple/tan plumes in late July, the majority of each phragmites plant is underground. As a result, by the time you actually see a phragmites plant in your pond, its root system is well established – laying the groundwork to take over the entire body of water. In fact, phragmites plants continue to spread throughout their life, sending stalks skyward at a blistering pace. And once the stalks reach maturity – typically from early to late summer – the plants double their efforts at pond domination by distributing seeds throughout the watershed. Phragmites, it seems, is quite capable at taking care of itself.

When taken alone, phragmites might actually be considered attractive. Unfortunately, it has no interest in sharing its turf. Through its aggressive growth, phragmites chokes out native plant species in short order, and can transform an entire pond’s flora over the course of a single season. And while it’s nearly impossible to eliminate phragmites once it’s established, our Kraken Aquatic Herbicide and Cide-Kick Combo – carefully and regularly applied with our Airmax Specialty Pressurized Pond Chemical Tank-Sprayer or our 4-Gallon Backpack Pond Sprayer – can significantly impair root system growth, while leaving room for the plants you’d like to keep around.

After herbicides are applied, many pond owners are eager to eliminate both existing growth and dead stalks left over from the previous season. Our Aquatic Weed Cutter makes short work of offending plants. Once the cutting is done, our Aquatic Weed Rake helps to remove mess. In some instances, pond users also use controlled burns – after herbicide application – to remove standing plants. While this can be effective, it should never be practiced apart from herbicide use. Some evidence suggests that burning alone – without the use of herbicides – can actually increase the density of phragmites plants.

Good luck with your battle against phragmites. Stay vigilant, stay focused, and act quickly to curb new growth. The fight may last a long time – but the results will be worth the effort.

Pond Talk: Have you battled phragmites in your pond?

Kraken and Cide-Kick Combo

I have a small floating weed in my pond. I think it is duckweed, how do I know and how do I treat it? | Pond & Lakes Q&A

I have a small floating weed in my pond. I think it is duckweed, how do I know and how do I treat it?

I have a small floating weed in my pond. I think it is duckweed, how do I know and how do I treat it?
Jason – Raleigh, NC

Duckweed can be a real nuisance if not identified and treated correctly. As it is a prolific grower it can quickly make your pond or lake look more like a golf course in a relatively short period of time. Duckweed is a small floating weed with a single root hair extending from the bottom of each individual leaf. Each green leaflet is about 1/8” of an inch in size and you should be able to fit about 5 to 10 on the tip of your finger. Duckweed can sometimes be confused with watermeal which is also a small green floating weed. Watermeal differs from duckweed in that it is much smaller and has a grainy or almost sandy feel to it if you hold it in your hands.

You can treat duckweed with two different methods. The first method is by spraying contact herbicides like Pond Logic® Pondweed Defense™ or Redwing™ directly onto the floating masses with a pressurized tank sprayer. This method typically yields fast results but tends to be a quick fix that ends up resulting in new growth reforming over just a few weeks. If you need to whip your pond into shape for a planned day or two event, then spraying your pond with a contact herbicide may be an appropriate treatment for you.

For longer lasting control of duckweed you can treat the pond with WhiteCap™ aquatic herbicide. This product works by inhibiting the plants ability to produce carotene and as a result chlorophyll is degraded by the sunlight and the weed dies. There are however a few things you will need to check before adding it to your pond to ensure a successful treatment. Most importantly, WhiteCap™ has a 30 day irrigation restriction meaning that if you water your plants or grass with your pond water you will not be able to do so for at least 30 days. Secondly, Whitecap needs to maintain a high concentration in the pond for up to 90 days. If your pond is prone to overflow or has an inlet/outlet chances are that the WhiteCap™ will rinse out of your pond to quickly making the treatment less effective. A good way to visually check your water loss is to color the water body with pond dye. Dye will typically remain in your pond for 2-4 weeks in normal conditions. If your pond looses color sooner then it is a great indicator that too much water is exiting the pond.
As WhiteCap™ is degraded by sunlight it is important that you dye your pond while you are chemically treating the water body. When applying WhiteCap™ use a pressurized tank sprayer and submerge the spray nozzle to apply the herbicide beneath the surface of the pond where it is safe from evaporation and sun exposure.

The best time to use WhiteCap™ is early in the spring a couple of weeks before you normally see duckweed forming in your pond. This will give the herbicide a chance to establish itself in the pond and discourage plant growth before it gets out of control.

Pond Talk: Have you experienced Duckweed in your pond?

WhiteCap

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