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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?

What chemical should I use to treat water milfoil? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

What chemical should I use to treat water milfoil?

Q: What chemical should I use to treat water milfoil?

Douglas – Goddard, KS

A: Before we dive into how to treat this aquatic invader, let’s get to know it a little better first.

Water milfoil, also known as Eurasian Water Milfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum), is a submersed aquatic plant that’s native to Europe, Asia and northern Africa. It has feather-like leaves that grow from white, red or brown stems, and some species produce four-petaled pink or reddish flowers that rise a few inches from the water’s surface.

Eurasian water milfoil thrives on fertile, fine-textured, inorganic sediments. An opportunistic species, the plant prefers water bodies that receive nitrogen and phosphorous-laden runoff, like a farm or agricultural pond. Growth explodes when water temperatures rise, which promote multiple periods of flowing and fragmentation (or when pieces of the plant grow roots and develop new plants).

If left unchecked, water milfoil can dominate a pond or lake in no time.

Controlling Growth

The good news is that you can find myriad products to manage this invasive species. The chemical you choose has to do with several factors.

Closed or open system? If your pond is mostly covered with water milfoil, does not have water flowing in and out, and is not used for irrigation, SePRO Sonar™ A.S. Aquatic Herbicide will be your best choice. The product uses the active ingredient fluridone, which effectively controls a wide range of floating, submerged and emergent aquatic vegetation including duckweed, hydrilla, bladderwort, naiad, elodea, water lily, coontail, pondweed and water milfoil – giving you more herbicide bang for your buck.

Small area or large? If you’re treating a smaller area of a pond or lake, Aquathol® Aquatic Herbicide works like a charm. It’s a rapid-acting contact herbicide that drops aquatic weeds below the water surface in four to seven days, though heavy growth may require a second application in 10 to 12 weeks.

Spray or granular? If you prefer granular herbicides to spray ones and have a smaller area to treat, choose Navigate. This granular herbicide is ideal for spot-treating weeds around docks, beach areas and shorelines, killing the roots of both submerged and floating plants, including water milfoil, coontail and water lilies. You’ll see it go to work within 10 days; you’ll see full effects in three to five weeks.

Plant, Human Considerations

When choosing a chemical herbicide, pay special attention to use restrictions. Some of these products have limitations for use in irrigation ponds, swimming holes and other situations until the chemical has adequately broken down in the water.

Also consider the other critters – plants, fish and animals – that live in your pond. Certain products can harm game fish, koi or goldfish, and can kill off prize water lilies and other welcome aquatic plants.

Pond Talk: How do you manage invasive plants in your pond or lake?

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

How Do I Tell Chara & Naiad Apart? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

How Do I Tell Chara & Naiad Apart?

Thomas – Williamston, MI

It’s very important to be able to tell Chara and Naiad apart. Why? Because Chara is actually a form of algae and you must use an algaecide, like Algae Defense® or Cutrine®-Plus, to treat it. Naiad, which looks similar to Chara, is an aquatic weed and you should use an herbicide, like Ultra PondWeed Defense® , to treat it.
A couple of things to look for to help you differentiate between the two pond nuisances:

• Chara lacks true leaves because it is algae. Instead, it has 6 to 16 leaf-like branchlets that grow in spirals (whorls) around the stem. These branchlets often have tiny, thorn-like projections.
• Naiad has dark-green to greenish-purple, ribbon-like leaves. Naiad leaves are arranged oppositely on the stem, or sometimes in whorls of 3.
• Chara has no defined root system
• Naiad has a well-established root system
• Chara gets a foul, musky, almost garlic-like odor late in the season

If you are still unsure what type of plant you are dealing with, consider applying Hydrothol 191. A granular algaecide/herbicide, Hydrotol 191 is proven to treat both algae AND aquatic weeds but carries a 25 day irrigation & 3 day fish consumption restriction.

Pond Talk: Have you battled Chara or Naiad in your pond? How did you treat it?

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.

Will Algaecides & Herbicides Harm My Beneficial Bacteria? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Will Algaecides & Herbicides Harm My Beneficial Bacteria?

Kenneth – Lawton, OK

Some chemical treatments can affect the performance of your beneficial bacteria. It’s best to wait 72 hours after a chemical treatment to add bacteria. Certain chemical treatments contain copper, and copper can reduce the effectiveness of bacteria. If you wait a few days, you’ll ensure no loss of bacteria from a chemical interaction and the bacteria will have a lot of newly killed weeds to feed on. If you can’t wait, apply bacteria away from the treated areas of your pond. For example, if you put chemicals around the edge of your pond, add bacteria such Pond Logic® PondClear™, to the center. This will prevent the chance of overlapping chemicals with natural bacteria.

When Should I Start Treating Floating Algae In My Pond? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

When Should I Start Treating Floating Algae In My Pond?

When Should I Start Treating Floating Algae In My Pond?

Jacquelyn – Pottsville, PA

 

Spring is just around the corner and in some areas, algae is already growing. But the question we hear quite often around this time is, “When can I start?” or, “Is it too early to treat?” The answer really depends on what the weather is like at your pond.

Getting a jump start on algae early in the season can help control growth as the season progresses. Fortunately, treating floating algae and preventing its build up is rather easy and really only one factor may stop you…temperature.

Is your pond above or below 50 degrees? This is important because aquatic algicides become less effective when temperatures fall below 60° Fahrenheit. However, understand that treatments will still work, just not as well. If you have an abundance of algae growing when the water temperatures are below 60° Fahrenheit, it’s worth a quick treatment to get it under control early. If the water temperature is too low, wait to use any treatment and instead use a lake rake to remove excessive algae if you are not able to chemically treat it. Another up-and-coming product that works very well to skim floating debris is the PondSkim™ Debris Skimmer. The PondSkim™ is a tool that contains a float and debris catcher. Simply drag across the surface of the water to collect debris.

If you have algae already growing in your pond we suggest that you get a jump start on it and you’ll be happy you did.

The Pond Guy Pond & Beach Rake

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