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I think I have either milfoil or coontail. How do I tell the difference, and what chemical should I use? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I think I have either milfoil or coontail. How do I tell the difference, and what chemical should I use?

Q: I think I have either milfoil or coontail. How do I tell the difference, and what chemical should I use?

Paul – Greenfield, OH

A: Invasive aquatic plants like milfoil and coontail can cause trouble in your pond or lake. Though they provide food and shelter for birds, insects, fish and other pond critters, they can form dense colonies, reducing access to open water, limiting fishing access, and interfering with boating and swimming.

Milfoil and coontail look similar and – thankfully – can be treated with similar chemicals. Here’s what you need to know about identifying and managing these nuisance plants.

Milfoil Identification

When you think milfoil, think feather-like.

Many different species of milfoil and watermilfoil exist in North America. In general, milfoil is found in water that’s less than 20 feet (6 meters) deep. In water less than 15 feet (4½ meters) deep, it can form dense mats over the surface. The plant is comprised of long stems with air canals and flat, feather-like, whorled leaves that are pinnately divided.

Milfoil is an important food source for waterfowl, but these nuisance plants can aggressively invade lakes, ponds and waterways. Once they’re established, they’re almost impossible to eradicate, and so periodic maintenance is necessary to keep them under control.

Coontail Identification

When coontail comes to mind, think of a Christmas tree.

Also known as hornwort, coontail also thrives in water less than 20 feet deep. The rootless invasive plant grows below the surface, and it has a central hollow stem and dark green leaves that are spiny, forked and bushy near the tip, giving it its “coontail” or Christmas tree appearance.

Like milfoil, coontail provides food for waterfowl and cover for young bluegills, perch, largemouth bass and northern pike, but it needs to be managed to prevent it from taking over your pond or lake.

Keeping Them Under Control

Many of the submerged weed chemicals available treat both milfoil and coontail. Depending how you use your pond, the best choices are:

  • Ultra PondWeed Defense®: This liquid herbicide has short-term drinking (three days for human consumption; one day for animal consumption) and irrigation restrictions (five days).
  • Navigate: A granular herbicide, Navigate is great for spot-treating problem areas. It has longer consumption and irrigation restrictions (21 days) than the others.
  • Fluridone (Sonar™): If your entire pond is infested, try Sonar™. It can kill the invaders down to their roots, but expect slower results (it can take up to 90 days for full protection) and longer irrigation restrictions (30 days). Note: Sonar™ should only be used in ponds with little to no flow.
  • Clipper™: To use Clipper™, you’ll need to mix the quick-dissolve granules with water – but you can start using the water again for irrigation in just five days.

Regardless which one you choose, the best time to apply it is when the weeds are actively growing.

Help from the Experts

If you can’t figure out which aquatic weed is growing in your pond, pull one (or more!) from the pond, snap a picture of it and send it to weedid@thepondguy.com or mail us a sample in a dry paper towel. We can help you identify the invader and suggest the best chemical to control it.

Pond Talk: What’s your go-to herbicide to treat invasive aquatic plants?

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

I have water shield. What should I use, and will it hurt the lilies I want to keep? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I have water shield. What should I use, and will it hurt the lilies I want to keep?

Q: I have water shield. What should I use, and will it hurt the lilies I want to keep?

Gordon – Spring Mills, PA

A: Water shield, scientific name Brasenia schreberi, can be a tough enemy to battle one it is established in your pond – but with some effort and the right tools this invasive aquatic plant can be controlled. Here’s what you need to know.

Water Shield Identification

Water shield, also known as Dollar Bonnet, is a floating-leaved plant that produces a small, oval pad like a water lily but without its noticeable V-shaped cutout. The leaves appear green on top and reddish-purple on the bottom and stems, and they have a distinctive gelatinous slime on their undersides. The plant also produces small, dull purple or reddish flowers that rise above the surface and consist of three to four sepals and petals.

Like other invasive aquatic plants, water shield spreads via seeds and its root system – which makes it doubly difficult to control. Beneath the surface, the long leaf stems reach the bottom where they attach to long creeping root stalks that are anchored in the mud. To control the plant, you really need to destroy the entire plant, roots and all.

Battling Water Shield

You could try to control this problem plant mechanically by cutting and yanking it with razors and rakes, but that won’t be enough to get rid of it. The plant will just regrow from its remaining roots. And if you want to attempt biological control, you’re out of luck as one doesn’t exist.

Destroying this plant means bringing out the big guns: the chemicals. Active ingredients that have been proven successful in treating water shield which include glyphosate and diquat.

Pond Logic® Shoreline Defense® Aquatic Herbicide contains glyphosate, which is a systemic killer that will work all the way down to the plant’s roots after a single use. It has no water use or temperature restrictions, so you can safely use it in ponds used for drinking water, livestock and irrigation.

Another option is Pond Logic® Ultra PondWeed Defense® Aquatic Herbicide. It’s a quick-fix solution that will kill the floating water shield foliage and tackle some other nuisance weeds in your pond. However, it may not penetrate down to the roots so you’ll need to use it repeatedly, and it has some water use restrictions associated with it.

What About the Lilies?

Both Shoreline Defense® and Ultra PondWeed Defense® should be combined with Treatment Booster™ PLUS are applied via a tank sprayer to the foliage that’s on the water surface. If you carefully spray the herbicide onto the water shield leaves on a calm day and prevent any from landing on your water lilies, they’ll be just fine!

One word of caution: Chemical control brings with it a chance of oxygen depletion caused by the decomposition of dead plant materials. If your pond is heavily infested, treat the weeds in sections, and let each section decompose for about two weeks before treating another section. Be sure to keep your aeration system running.

Pond Talk: Have you battled water shield in your pond or lake? If so, how did you win the fight?

Control Persistent Aquatic Weeds - Pond Logic® Shoreline Defense®

How can I control the duckweed in my pond? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: How can I control the duckweed in my pond?

Q: How can I control the duckweed in my pond?

Kyle – Burke, KY

A: Duckweed is a tiny menace that definitely needs to be managed. Brought to your pond or lake by humans and their equipment or on the feet and feathers of visiting waterfowl, dense colonies of these plants can proliferate and eventually cover the water surface. It’s not something you want in growing your pond.

Duckweed or Watermeal?

Duckweed a very small, light green, free-floating plant with a single hair-like root and three 1/16- to 1/8-inch long leaves, or fronds. It tends to grow in dense colonies in quiet water that’s undisturbed by waves. You can fit six to eight of these plants of the tip of your finger.

Watermeal – another invasive plant that can be mistaken for duckweed – is also light green and free-floating, but it has no roots and is more of a grainy, seed-type plant. It’s also much smaller than duckweed; at less than 1 millimeter in size, you can fit 10 to 20 of them on the tip of your finger.

Duckweed and watermeal colonies can provide a habitat for microscopic critters and forage for hungry ducks, but the plants can reduce oxygen in the water if they grow to cover a lake’s or pond’s surface. That could compromise your fishes’ health and cut off sunlight to underwater plants.

Treat Effectively

To control duckweed, think short-term and long-term.

Short Term: Ultra PondWeed Defense® or Clipper™ used with Treatment Booster™ PLUS are your go-to herbicide products for short-term control of duckweed and other invasive aquatic weeds. They provide broad-spectrum pond weed control in slow-moving water and kill what’s actively growing in your pond. If duckweed hasn’t completely taken over your water surface, you may notice algae growth mixed in with the weeds – in which case you’ll need to treat the algae first. (Pro tip: Clipper™ will control both algae and duckweed.)

Long Term: For long-term control, you’ll need an herbicide like fluridone, which is found in Sonar™ A.S. When applied in early spring (or when you begin to notice weed growth), you’ll see the product controlling established plants in 30 to 60 days, and in 90 days, you’ll have full pond protection. Because exposure to sunlight can reduce Sonar’s effectiveness, use in combination with Pond Dye. If you use your pond water to irrigate, you will need to wait 30 days following treatment.

Improve Overall Pond Health

In addition to managing your menace with herbicides, you should also reduce muck and aerate the water to keep your overall pond healthy. The products in the ClearPAC® PLUS Pond Care Package – including PondClear™, MuckAway™ and EcoBoost™ – will help reduce the submerged and suspended organic debris. Combine that with some Airmax® Aeration, and your water will stay crystal clear all season long.

Pond Talk: What else do you do to control duckweed in your lake?

Treats Floating & Submerged Weeds - Valent® Clipper™ Aquatic Herbicide

Can Aquatic Weeds Go Dormant? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q:Will my fountain be enough to keep my fish safe this winter?

Q: Can Aquatic Weeds Go Dormant?

Jackie – Kalamazoo, MI

A: Yes, those insidious aquatic weeds can go dormant in the cold season, lying in wait in your lake’s muck and sediment, until spring when the hours of sunlight and temperatures increase. The good news is that you can battle them – even in their overwintering state. Here’s how.

Growth Patterns

When temperatures drop and the sun hovers lower in the sky, you’ll start to see those aquatic weeds retreat and hole up for the winter. The duration of their dormancy will depend on where you live (the weed growth patterns in a California pond, for instance, will differ from those in a Minnesota pond!). But, in general, you can expect to see different pond weeds disappear and reappear at different times of year based on environmental temperatures.

If your pond or lake freezes over, the perennial weeds will typically die back in the winter and re-emerge in the spring. Some plants, however, will continue to grow throughout the cold season, though at a much slower rate than you’d see in the warmer summer months.

Controlling Winter Weeds

Because you’ll probably see little to no greenery growing, it will be a challenge to control winter weeds. Methods that work in the spring and summer – like treating with temperature-sensitive herbicides and algaecides – won’t work in the colder temperatures. So what can you do? Here’s what we recommend:

  • Remove Weeds: If there’s no ice on your pond, you can pull on your hip waders and manually remove the weeds with a Weed Raker. This go-to tool efficiently pulls out aquatic weeds by their roots, slowing their regrowth, and also removes decaying matter.
  • Pond Dye: Pond Dye, available in convenient liquid quarts, will shade the water blue or black and reduce the amount of sunlight reaching the weeds and algae growing at the bottom of your lake. Less sunlight means fewer weeds, regardless of the temperature or time of year.
  • Aerate the Water: If you’re not using your lake as an ice rink, crank on your Airmax® Aeration System. The action created by the aerator will circulate the water and reduce the muck buildup throughout the winter.
  • Feeding Fish: Your fish will enter into a semi-dormant state when the water dips below 50 degrees, so there’s no need to feed them. Doing so will add to the lake’s nutrient load (i.e. weed fertilizer …), which is not what you want to do.

If wintertime weeds are taking over your pond, consider trying some of these time-tested tricks. They’ll minimize the nuisance growth during the cold season and reduce the amount of work you’ll need to do in the spring.

Pond Talk: How do you handle aquatic weeds in the wintertime?

Shade & Protect Your Pond - Pond Logic® Pond Dye

I can’t get chemicals in my state, so how do I get rid of my weeds? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I can’t get chemicals in my state, so how do I get rid of my weeds?

Q: I can’t get chemicals in my state, so how do I get rid of my weeds?

Wayne- Ocean Shores, WA

A: Some states – like California, Washington, Maine, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey, among others – regulate the use of chemicals more so than others. If you live in one of these places, and need to control weeds or algae growth around your lake or pond, your choices are limited if you want to avoid fines and protect your local ecosystem.

But don’t worry. You still have options! Here are some ways you can manage pesky weeds and algae while keeping the regulators (and the environment) happy.

  • Mechanical Removal: Use a variety of pond tools to control the growth in your pond or lake. Cut down weeds with a Weed Cutter or Razer™ and rake them out with a weed rake, like the Jenlis Weed Raker™. If you have floating algae, you can also skim it away with a pond skimmer. This mechanical removal will take some work, but they are chemical-free ways to manage weeds and algae.
  • Limit Sunlight: Weeds and algae use sunlight to flourish, so another chemical-free way to tamp down growth is to add pond dye to the water. Available in liquid concentrate and in convenient packet formulas, Pond Dye shades your pond, preventing foliage from thriving.
  • Limit Nutrients: Plants need nutrients to grow, so adding some all natural beneficial bacteria can help. The microorganisms will eat through decomposing organics, fish waste and other plant-feeding fodder. We recommend using ClearPAC® PLUS without Algae Defense®, which contains which contains PondClear™, MuckAway™ and EcoBoost™, along with some pond dye.
  • Aerate 24/7: If you don’t already, keep your Airmax® Pond Series™ Aeration System up and running 24/7. Doing so will circulate the water column and deliver oxygen to the beneficial bacteria as they gobble through the nutrients. Aeration will also promote the growth and reproduction of those beneficial microorganisms.
  • Hire a Professional: If you’ve tried the non-chemical methods and aren’t satisfied with the result, a final option is to hire a licensed applicator in your area that has the proper permits to purchase, transport and apply chemical herbicides and algaecides.

Like them or not, rules and regulations controlling the use of chemicals are in place for a reason. Use common sense and obey the federal, state and local edicts. You have non-chemical options available, so try them out. You have nothing to lose – except a hefty fine!

Pond Talk: What are some other ways to control weeds and algae naturally?

Remove Unwanted Weeds & Muck Build Up  - The Pond Guy(r) Pond and Beach Rake

I think I have grass growing in my pond. Could it be Sago pondweed? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I think I have grass growing in my pond. Could it be Sago pondweed?

Q: I think I have grass growing in my pond. Could it be Sago pondweed?

Lewie- Gwinner, ND

A: Sago pondweed, or Potamogeton pectinatus, is a distinctive aquatic plant that kind of does resemble grass.

Sago is a perennial that grows from thickly matted rhizomes. It has no floating leaves, but it has thin, long and branching stems with tapering, filament-like leaves that are 1/16 of an inch wide and 2 to 12 inches in length. The leaves grow in thick layers and originate from a sheath. The plants produce a nut-like fruit that’s 1/8 to 1/4 inch long and 1/10 to 1/8 inch wide.

Pondweed Pros and Cons
The Sago pondweed, like other aquatic plants, provides habitat for many below- and above-the-surface critters. From the birds that eat the plant’s fruit and tubers to the fish that find food and safety in their stems, the pondweed has lots of fans. Even fungi and beneficial bacteria benefit from it – as the plant decomposes, the microorganisms feed on the detritus.

But Sago also has its drawbacks. Plants rapidly spread between bodies of water. In a small water body or backyard pond, unchecked Sago can become a nuisance. And when you do mechanically remove it, remaining plant fragments, including leaves and roots, can sprout new growth.

Controlling Sago
If you suspect Sago in your pond, you have several management options. Here’s what we recommend to help you get the weed under control.

  1. Herbicides: To rid your pond or lake of Sago, an herbicide will be necessary.
    • Sonar™ A.S. is a season-long herbicide. One treatment wipes out Sago and many other common floating and submerged pond weeds for the entire season.
    • Ultra PondWeed Defense® is a broad-spectrum herbicide that will quickly kill Sago. It doesn’t stay in the water body, however, so multiple treatments may be necessary.
    • Clipper™ is a fast and selective herbicide that controls tough invasive and nuisance floating and submerged aquatic plants. It comes in a fine wettable powder to spray weeds.
  2. Mechanical Removal: Once it has turned brown and died, Sago pondweed can be removed by raking it with a Weed Raker™ – but remember that the plant will sprout and reestablish from any remaining roots, seeds and foliage fragments.
  3. Pond Dye: Non-toxic dyes, like Pond Logic® Pond Dye, reduce and prevent Sago pondweed growth by limiting sunlight penetration.
  4. Aeration and Beneficial Bacteria: Aerating your pond or lake with an Airmax® Aeration System can help, too – particularly if you’re using the beneficial bacteria found in PondClear™ . The extra oxygen in the water fuels the tiny bacteria as they break down nutrients that fertilize the Sago.

Pond Talk: Have you ever had Sago pondweed in your pond or lake? How did you get it under control?

Broad Spectrum Control - Pond Logic(r) Ultra PondWeed Defense (r)

I thought I did a successful chemical treatment, but why are the weeds coming back? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I thought I did a successful chemical treatment, but why are the weeds coming back?

Q: I thought I did a successful chemical treatment, but why are the weeds coming back?

Barney – Andalusia, AL

A: Treating weeds is a tricky task. Despite dosing them with aquatic herbicides to clear your pond or lake of plant pests, they seem to grow back over and over again. It seems like a never-ending cycle!

Why does this happen?

Well, chemical treatments have their benefits and drawbacks: On one hand, they work great as a quick fix to decimate actively growing weeds. But once those plants die, they become a food source for future weeds and algae, acting as a fertilizer for the very things you’re trying to get rid of. The herbicides do nothing to prevent future growth, and so you’re left with yet another growth spurt of pond weeds, which you’ll then treat with chemical herbicides – and around you’ll go again.

So how do you break the cycle? Here’s a four-step approach that will help put an end to it.

  1. Remove the Dead Weeds: Once the weeds have browned, use a Pond & Beach Rake or PondSkim™ Debris Skimmer to remove as much dead material from the water as possible. This prevents dead plant material and muck from accumulating and fertilizing future weed growth.
  2. Be Proactive: Debris will still find its way into your pond, so add some beneficial bacteria to the water to manage the excess nutrients before they feed your weeds. The products found in the ClearPAC® PLUS Pond Care Packages – including PondClear™ and EcoBoost™ for suspended debris, and MuckAway™ for accumulated bottom-of-the-pond debris – naturally break down that organic material.
  3. Add Aeration: If you don’t have one already, install a Airmax® Pond Series™ Aeration System that’s sized for your pond or lake. By circulating and adding oxygen to the water column, the beneficial bacteria will thrive. In turn, they’ll eat through even more debris and prevent weed and algae growth.
  4. Shade and Color: Also found in the ClearPAC® Plus package is Pond Dye, another offensive tactic in your battle against aquatic weeds. Pond dye shades the water blue or black, preventing ultraviolet light from reaching the plants.

Throughout the spring and summer, weeds will grow. But with some pond management practices, you can keep those pesky plants to a minimum.

Pond Talk: How often do you treat your pond or lake for weeds?

Remove Floating Debris Quickly - The Pond Guy(r) PondSkim(t) Debris Skimmer

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