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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 Avocet PLX, using a pressurized pond sprayer, such as the Airmax® 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 Avocet PLX with 1 gallon of water, 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 Airmax® Pond Rake and Cutter Combo or the Jenlis WeedRazer® 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?

Avocet PLX - Eliminate Cattails & Phragmites

How do weeds like Cattails and Phragmites survive the winter? – Ponds & Lakes Q & A

How do weeds like Cattails and Phragmites survive the winter?

How do weeds like Cattails and Phragmites survive the winter?
Bryce – Grand Rapids, MN

Your gamefish and frogs aren’t the only ones hiding from the cold winter weather. Even your emergent weeds have developed a defense mechanism to survive over the winter. Being perennial plants, they may appear to die when the weather cools down but they are really just buying time until the spring thaw when they will return in all of their glory. Whether or not this is good news depends on how you feel about the presence of these particular plants in your pond.

Plants like Cattails tend to disperse their seeds as fall approaches. As the weather continues to cool the leaves and the stalk of the plant wilt and die only to decompose and become fertilizer for the roots, or rhizomes, of the plant come spring. While the exposed areas of the plant are dying off, the roots of the plant begin pulling in nutrients to store before going into dormancy for the winter. As these roots can be considered the heart of the plant, cutting down Cattail and Phragmite reeds will not discourage new plant growth in the spring.

If you like having Cattails or Phragmites around your pond then nothing is needed to help them through the winter as they are naturally prepared to make a comeback. If you are not a fan of these emergent plants you can make it harder for them to grow back by physically removing the plant roots or by using pond care products to remove their food source and kill the plants including the roots. Applying aquatic herbicides like Avocet PLX while Cattails and Phragmites are still active is infinitely easier than trying to pull their extensive root system from the pond. Avocet PLX is absorbed by the plant and carried to its roots effectively killing the entire weed. Since you don’t want to encourage new growth you will want to remove any potential “fertilizers” in the form of plant decay and muck. Once dead cut and drag any dead reeds and leaves away from the pond and burn or compost them. Using a Rake and Weed Cutter will make short work of these shoreline cleanups and give you the advantage for next season.

Pond Talk: How do your emergent plants react to the cold winter weather?

Keep your pond healthy all winter long!

Controlling Cattails – Ponds & Lakes

Dyed Pond

Controlling Cattails
Cattails provide a natural habitat for fish and help reduce nutrients and sediment that run off into your pond. They are also used in some ponds to add to its overall aesthetic appeal. While there are a few benefits to having cattails around your pond, at what point do they become an inconvenience and how do you get rid of them?

Mark Your Territory
While you enjoy the presence of cattails in your pond, they can quickly take over your pond and become an unsightly pest. An easy way to keep your cattails in check is by marking boundaries in your pond. By establishing reference points, it will be easier to tell when your cattails are trying to spread out, enabling you to address the situation before it has a chance to get out of hand.

Spray it, Don’t Say It
When a pond becomes overgrown with cattails, it can seem like regaining control will become an epic battle. Using a spray on aquatic herbicide like Avocet® will make short work of your cattail woes. Treating cattails is as simple as mixing Avocet® into a tank sprayer with the corresponding amount of water and spraying it onto the plant surface. The herbicide will soak into the plant and work its way to its roots, killing it completely. Once the cattails are dead, you can cut them away from your pond with an Aquatic Weed Cutter and Rake them away from your pond.

Even Super Heroes Use Sidekicks
Using a surfactant like Cide-Kick™ will greatly increase the effectiveness of Avocet®. Cide-Kick™ helps break down the waxy cuticle of the cattail leaves, enabling a more effective uptake of herbicide. Mix 2 ounces of Cide-Kick™ for every gallon of water and Avocet® solution and you are ready to spray! Cide-Kick™ can be used in a number of aquatic herbicides and is not exclusively used with Avocet®.

New and Improved
To make your pond maintenance even easier, you can now purchase Avocet® PLX which contains surfactant already mixed into the product so you do not have to worry about mixing it in before you spray!

POND TALK: Do you keep cattails in your pond? How do you control their spread?

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