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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 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

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?

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:

The perfect weapon in the fight against submerged, marginal and terrestrial weeds is the Aquatic Weed Cutter. 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 Razer™ and Weed Razer™ 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 Razer™ 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.

The Pond Guy® 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.

The Weed Raker™ is 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

We just purchased a house that had a pond, it hasn’t been taken care of, where do we start? | Pond & Lakes Q&A

We just purchased a house that had a pond, it hasn't been taken care of, where do we start?

We just purchased a house that had a pond, it hasn’t been taken care of, where do we start?
Tony – Romeo, MI

If you’ve ever adopted a stray pet, you already have a general sense of what it’s like to become the keeper of a long-neglected pond. Like the stray, the pond probably looks like it’s been reclaimed by nature: rough around the edges, none too attractive, and probably a bit more of a commitment than you’d ordinarily take on without a lot of advance planning.

But like a scrawny stray, a neglected pond is often a diamond in the rough – waiting for the loving attention of a caring keeper to really show its true colors. And with the right products from The Pond Guy®, the transformation from primeval bog to backyard showplace is much easier than you’ve imagined.

The first step in reclaiming your pond is to evaluate the status quo. With a quick inventory, you’ll determine if it’s full of weeds, if there’s any aeration, and if there are any fish who call it home.

For maximum initial impact, proper aeration is critical. If it’s missing, weeds thrive, algae blooms, and both fish and healthy plants struggle for survival. At The Pond Guy®, you’ll find exactly what your pond needs with one of our Airmax® Aeration Systems. Designed to suit the size and depth characteristics of your pond, the right system will begin the process of making your pond a safe, healthy habitat for the fish and plants that make ponds a pleasure.

Once the aeration is up and running, you’ll need to tackle the weeds and algae with our safe, powerful herbicides and algaecides. Our most powerful weapon in the fight to restore a pond’s health is our ClearPAC® and ClearPAC® PLUS products, which combine the benefits of beautiful, Nature’s Blue™ dye and Algae Defense® algaecide, the muck reducing power of our PondClear™ natural bacteria and our beneficial EcoBoost™ phosphate binder, which reduces phosphate levels to make water clear and healthy for fish, wildlife and anyone else wanting to use the pond.

ClearPAC® Plus also includes MuckAway™ to eliminate the muck that accumulates at the bottom after long periods without proper pond care. By following the simple steps included with ClearPAC®, you’ll see marked improvement in no time, with steady improvement over the course of several weeks of treatment.

For ponds that haven’t suffered long-term neglect, our Algae Defense® and Ultra PondWeed Defense® tackle specific problem areas quickly and effectively.

Pond Talk: Have you taken on the task of reviving an old pond?

Pond Logic® ClearPAC®

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 Shoreline Defense® & Treatment Booster™ PLUS Combo – carefully and regularly applied with our Specialty 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 Aquactic Weed Cutter makes short work of offending plants. Once the cutting is done, our Pond & Beach 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?

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