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My water garden doesn’t ice over, but the water gets cold. Can I still use barley extract during the winter? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: My water garden doesn’t ice over, but the water gets cold. Can I still use barley extract during the winter?

Q: My water garden doesn’t ice over, but the water gets cold. Can I still use barley extract during the winter?

Mary – Marietta, GA

A:  Barley straw is effective stuff. It’s an all-natural, chemical-free option for keeping pond water clear. And the best part? The temperature-tolerant natural pond treatment can be used year-round—even if your pond’s water gets cold.

Ever wonder how this seemingly innocuous bale of dried barley straw works? Read on to learn more.

It’s Science!

Though researchers have yet to precisely pinpoint how barley straw works, it’s generally believed that as a barley straw bale breaks down in water, it produces and releases many chemical compounds—and one of them may promote clearer pond water.

It has not been found to harm fish, water fowl or pond inhabitants in any way and, in fact, some studies suggest the straw benefits fish health.

Pond Particulars

When using barley straw in a water garden or backyard pond, forward-thinking hobbyists originally placed bales of it in their waterfall filter boxes, skimmers or waterfall areas where it would decompose. Things have sure changed! Those unwieldy bales have since been replaced by compressed, easy-to-use pellets and barley extract, which is basically the good stuff in a bottle.

If you’re thinking about using barley straw in your water garden, you have more options than ever. Check out these four popular methods:

  • Barley Straw Bales: Typically available loose in a mesh bag, small bales of barley straw can be placed in the pond several months before pond clarity issues are expected to occur (around March or April, depending on your climate) as the straw must start to decompose before it releases it’s special compunds. In a 1,000-gallon pond, 1 pounds of barley straw is needed, but it should be replaced every four to six months. Keep the straw well-aerated, floating it near your waterfall or stream or in shallow water. Don’t leave it in your pond beyond its prime time, however, because it can eventually become a nutrient source for algae.
  • Barley Pellets: Compressed into a compact form, Barley Straw Pellets also contain all the beneficial substances found in barley straw without the unsightly look of bales, pillows or pads. The pellets may also buffer pH and control alkalinity in your pond. A 6-pound bag will treat an 800-gallon pond for up to six months; a 12-pound bag will treat a 1,600-gallon pond for up to six months.
  • Barley Extract: Offering the benefits of barley straw without the mess or unsightly bale floating in your pond, Barley Straw Extract contains those beneficial substances in liquid form. Because you don’t have to wait for the barley straw to decompose, it goes to work on contact. An 8-ounce container treats up to 4,000 gallons for three months; a 16-ounce bottle treats up to 8,000 gallons for three months.
  • Seasonal Defense®: Seasonal Defense® gives you the power of activated barley straw with an additional punch of natural bacteria in one simple treatment. Used when water temperatures drop below 50°F, Seasonal Defense® helps break down muck caused by leaves, scum and sediment.

No matter what form you choose, barley straw extract is a good tool to keep in your water garden tool chest. It’s an effective solution you’ll use all year round.

Pond Talk: Have you used barley straw extract in your pond? Were you satisfied with the results?

Benefits Of Barley Without The Mess - Pond Logic® Barley Extract

What can I do to prevent string algae from growing in the winter? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: What can I do to prevent string algae from growing in the winter?

Q: What can I do to prevent string algae from growing in the winter?

Laura – Hattiesburg, MS

A: Even in the cold of winter, string algae can grow in your water garden. All that green nuisance needs to thrive is the right amount of nutrients and sunlight. So what can you do to prevent it? You have three options in your pond management toolbox: Seasonal Defense, barley straw extract, and a three-in-one pond tool.

Boost Your Bacteria

First of all, you’ll need to control the nutrients – or the food that the algae eat – in your pond. Because the beneficial bacteria that break down those nutrients go dormant in the winter, now’s the time to add some Pond Logic® Seasonal Defense® (as long as your pond isn’t frozen over, of course). It contains bacteria that prefer cooler temperatures. They’ll accelerate the decomposition of leaves, scum and sediment that feed algae, reducing its growth to a minimum.

Add Barley Straw

If you have a small water garden, like a koi pond that’s less than 10,000 gallons, Pond Logic® Barley Extract provides an all-natural solution for maintaining clean, clear water throughout the winter. Available in bales, pellets and as an extract, it works by releasing compounds that improve water clarity, leaving you a clean and healthy pond. Read more about how barley extract works here. The extract form is easy to use: Pour directly into the water and repeat every few weeks.

Manually Remove It

Should string algae form, you can manually remove it by wrapping it around an algae brush, like the one included in the The Pond Guy® 3-in-1 Interchangeable Pond Tool, and yanking it out of the water. The telescoping handle will add 5 feet to your reach, allowing you to reach those hard-to-access patches of weeds.

Unfortunately, if ice is covering your pond, there’s not much you can do to remove that string algae. Plan on removing it during your spring clean-out process. The sun will return soon enough!

Pond Talk: How do you prevent string algae from growing in the winter?

Naturally Clear Pond Water - Pond Logic® Barley Extract

What Are The Benefits Of Using Barley Straw In My Pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

What Are The Benefits Of Using Barley Straw In My Pond? What Are The Benefits Of Using Barley Straw In My Pond?

David – Mullica Hill, NJ

Whoever thought of adding barley straw to a pond must’ve discovered its advantages either by accident or because they were very clever. Because barley straw breaks down, it releases a byproduct and this byproduct is known to make the water conditions unfavorable for new algae growth without affecting any other aquatic life. Barley straw has been used in larger ponds and lakes for several decades and it was only natural for this method of preventing algae to spillover (pun intended) to water gardens.

When applying the bales to your pond, it’s best to leave it in the mesh bag so that the straw doesn’t float around everywhere. Also keep in mind that it will take roughly four to six weeks for the barley to start having an effect on your pond, so just add it early in the season and don’t become impatient if you don’t notice results right away. Remember, perfection takes time! Make sure as well to place the bales in an area that receives a good amount flow so all the pond water comes in contact with the barley. A waterfall filter box is a great choice to help spread the water.

Barley Straw is also available in a pellet form and a liquid extract.

POND TALK: Which barley form do you find that works the best: bales, pellets, or liquid?

The Pond Guy® Barley Straw

All-Natural Algae Control with Barley Straw Extract – Water Garden Q & A

Barley Straw & Barley Straw Extract

Q: I have heard that barley straw will control algae. Is this true? Also I have noticed a product on the market called barley straw extract. Why can’t I just use a bale of barley straw? – Samantha of California

A: Barley Straw has been known for a long time to help in the control of algae. The concept is that as the straw decays, a chemical is released that will reduce algae growth. The problem with using actual Barley Straw is that it takes up to 8 weeks for the straw to decay and begin to work. It also “decays”, which means it puts nutrients back into the pond that will cause future algae growth.

We strongly recommend using an extract (liquid) such as Barley Straw Extract. The extract is the by product of rotting barley straw. This starts to work on contact instead of having to wait weeks for the straw to decay. It also will not contribute to the nutrient load and is all-natural and safe.

Another great benefit of using the Barley Straw Extract product is that it contains muck & sludge reducing bacteria.


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