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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

Barley Vs. Chemical Algae Control – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Barley Vs. Chemical Algae Control

Barley Vs. Chemical Algae Control

While you don’t enjoy seeing algae in your pond you may also not be to enthusiastic about adding chemicals to remedy the problem. Fortunately you have another option when it comes to algae control additives before you resort to chemical treatments.

Simply put, the decomposition process of barley straw releases a byproduct that inhibits algae growth. When used proactively barley straw can prevent algae blooms from establishing in your water feature. One of the main drawbacks of using Barley Straw was that you had to wait 6 to 8 weeks for the decomposition process to start. It was also a bit messy and consumed a considerable amount of space. Over time products like Barley Straw Pellets and Barley Extract were developed to improve results in a shorter amount of time. Barley Extract contains the beneficial components of barley straw decay, which means once you add it to your pond it immediately goes to work against future algae growth. Barley Straw products are a great first resort in water garden maintenance because they are natural eco friendly products that are safe for your fish, plants and pets.

Barley Straw products are an excellent first step in the fight for a crystal clear pond, but they are by no means a guaranteed solution in every situation. There are always cases where using an aquatic algaecide like PondCare® AlgaeFix® or TetraPond® Algae Control. A prime example of such instances are in scenarios where your pond already has an established algae bloom. Using an algaecide will provide dramatic results in a short time which makes them highly desirable. Chemicals designed for use in water gardens are typically friendly for fish and plants but you should always read the product label before you make your purchase.

Both barley products and chemical products are effective means of fighting algae. Having the knowledge to choose the appropriate product for your unique situation will help keep more green in your wallet and less in your pond. Think of barley straw products as more of a proactive approach to algae prevention and your chemicals as a reactive treatment.

Pond Talk: Do you use barley? If so, how have your results been?

Keep your water crystal clear!

The Science Behind Barley Straw – Water Garden & Feature Q & A

Picture of Barley Straw.

Water Gardens & Features Q & A

Q: How does barley straw work to control algae? – Emma of Michigan

A: Barley straw is no magic bullet to rid your decorative pond of algae. But when used as a preventive measure, barley straw offers pond owners an attractive option to chemical products to manage those dreaded green blooms.

The Science Behind Barley: Barley straw has been widely used for decades to control algae blooms in many bodies of water, including large reservoirs and canals. Researchers have yet to precisely pinpoint how it works, but generally, it’s believed that the straw may alter the nutrient balance in the water, starving the algae to death, or the straw’s decomposition may be produce compounds toxic to algae.

Experts usually consider barley straw to be algistatic, or an algae preventive, rather than an algaecide, or an algae killer. 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.

Using It In Your Pond: Science aside, what’s important to pond keepers is how to use it in their ponds. Currently, hobbyists can choose from three different types of barley products: barley straw in bale form, barley pellets and barley extract. When used correctly, each will work to suppress algae blooms in the pond.

Barley Straw Bales: Typically available loose in a mesh bag, bales of barley straw should be placed in the pond several months before bloom conditions are expected to occur (around March or April, depending on your climate) as the straw must start to decompose before it releases it’s algae-suppressing substances. One pound of barley straw will treat a 100-square foot pond for approximately four-to-six months. Be sure to keep the straw well-aerated, floating it near your water fall or stream or in shallow water, if possible. Besides the length of time it takes for bales to decompose another downside is that they can be counter productive if left in the pond for too long. They can eventually become a nutrient source for algae as well.

Barley Pellets: Compressed into a compact form, the barley pellets also contain all the beneficial algae-suppressing substances found in barley straw without the unsightly look of bales, pillows or pads. They’re designed to break down quickly, and produce phosphate-combating humic substances that suppress algae growth. 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; while 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 extract contains the algae-suppressing substances in liquid form. Because you don’t have to wait for the barley straw to decompose, it starts 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.

POND TALK: Have you found barley straw to effectively control algae in your decorative pond?

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