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My pond is about a quarter acre, and I have ducks so I don’t want to use chemicals. Can I use barley straw? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: My pond is about a quarter acre, and I have ducks so I don’t want to use chemicals. Can I use barley straw?

Q: My pond is about a quarter acre, and I have ducks so I don’t want to use chemicals. Can I use barley straw?

Katie – Johnson, VT

A: More and more people are using barley straw as an all-natural (and duck friendly) way to control pond scum—and for good reason. Barley straw is a safe, natural alternative to manufactured chemicals and one of the compounds produced by submerged, decomposing barley straw may actually help keep your pond clear.

You need a lot of it to be effective.

In your quarter-acre pond, you’d need between 25 and 50 pounds (1 to 2 standard bales) of barley straw, depending on your pond’s condition. That straw would then need to be broken up, divided among several permeable bags and placed around the perimeter of the pond with weights in water no deeper than 6 feet.

That’s a lot of work!

And if you don’t replace the barley straw as it decomposes, it just turns into more decaying organic debris in the pond.

So what are your options?

Focus on the health of your pond. Reduce the decomposing plant matter, fish waste and other nutrients by adding a stout aeration system and wildlife-safe beneficial bacteria.

Reconsider manufactured chemicals, like Algae Defense®. The algaecide has no water use restrictions, and it’s safe to use around ducks and other wildlife. And because it only needs to be used when algae growth is occurs, you could use it as a one-time algae bomb. Not all chemicals are bad!

But if you want to give barley straw a try, check out this “fact sheet,” provided by The Ohio State University Extension. It details everything you need to know about using barley straw.

Pond Talk: Have you ever used barley straw? How did it work in your pond or lake?

Promote A Healthy Ecosystem - Pond Logic® PondClear™ Natural Bacteria

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

Is it too cold to treat my pond with the ClearPAC® PLUS? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

: Is it too cold to treat my pond with the ClearPAC® PLUS?

Q: Is it too cold to treat my pond with the ClearPAC® PLUS?

Steve – Denham Springs, LA

A: The Pond Logic® ClearPAC® and ClearPAC® PLUS combine PondClear™, Algae Defense®, EcoBoost™ and Nature’s Blue™ Pond Dye to combat algae and suspended debris and beautify your lake or pond. Some components of this super-pack have temperature limitations while others can be used year-round. Let’s take a closer look at each one.

PondClear™ (and MuckAway™)

Beneficial bacteria that break down muck and suspended debris, such as those found in PondClear™ (and MuckAway™ in ClearPAC® PLUS), can be used when water temperatures rise to more than 50° Fahrenheit or so. Though that temperature is not a definitive starting point, the bacteria will become more effective as the temperatures rise. Bottom line: When your underwater thermometer tops 50°, it’s time to start treating your pond or lake with ClearPAC®.

Algae Defense®

This algae-destroyer can be used to treat troublesome floating filamentous algae, bottom growing chara or the planktonic algae as long as it’s green and growing, and the water temperature in your pond or lake is above 60° Fahrenheit.


EcoBoost™, which is a bacteria booster rather than an actual bacteria, has no temperature restrictions so it can be used year-round to bind phosphates that find their way into your pond or lake. You can use EcoBoost™ throughout the spring to give you a head start on pond season.

Pond Dye

The final ingredient in the Pond Logic® ClearPAC®, Nature’s Blue™ Pond Dye, is not temperature-sensitive, so it can be used year-round to give your pond or lake that aesthetic appeal throughout the winter months. And if spring storms are preventing you from standing next to your pond pouring in a quart of dye, try Pond Dye Packets—all you do is toss the water-soluble packet into the water and head back to your warm and toasty home!

Pond Talk: What changes do you have planned for your fish pond or lake this year?

Eliminate The Guesswork - Pond Logic® ClearPAC® PLUS

Can I add barley to my 1/2 acre pond? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Can I add barley to my 1/2 acre pond?

Q: Can I add barley to my 1/2 acre pond?

Bill – Ashville, OH

A: Barley straw and ponds have some great chemistry. As a barley straw bale breaks down in water, it produces and releases many chemical compounds—and one of them may actually control algae growth.

How? Scientists from the Ohio State University Extension report that the compound interferes with and prevents the new growth of algae cells. As the old algae cells naturally die off, few new algae cells are produced—thereby controlling the overall algae population.

Sounds like a perfect solution for your 1/2 acre lake, right?

Well, barley straw will technically work to control algae in all that water—but you’ll need a ton of barley to accomplish it! More precisely, you’ll need as much as 112 pounds per 1/2 acre of surface area, according to OSU experts.

That’s great if you live next to a barley field, but that’s not a reality for most of us …

And accessibility to all those pounds of straw isn’t the only challenge. The bales are also tough to handle. In a small 1,000-gallon pond, small bales of barley straw can be used and tucked away in the filter, out of view. But in a sizable pond or lake, large bales are cumbersome to haul and position.

Not only that, but they also need to be broken apart to allow the right amount of oxygen in the middle of the bale so it properly decomposes, which means all that loose material will float to the pond’s surface and really make a mess of things.

Rather than wrangle all that barley straw, try an Airmax® Aeration System instead coupled with a beneficial bacteria product, like MuckAway™. The aeration system will circulate the pond water, allowing the bacteria to break down all the muck.

Low amounts of nutrients in the pond means less food for plants and weeds—and that’s some chemistry every lake owner should understand.

Pond Talk: Do you prefer aeration and beneficial bacteria over barley straw? If so, why?

Reduce Mucky Pond Bottoms - Pond Logic® MuckAway™

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

I’ve heard a lot about barley, some good and some bad. What do you think? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

I’ve heard a lot about barley, some good and some bad. What do you think?

I’ve heard a lot about barley, some good and some bad. What do you think?
Jessica – Jackson, MI

Pond owners are intrigued by the prospect of being able to ditch chemical treatments for a natural means of algae control. While it is true that barley straw is capable of helping your pond fend off algae it still comes with advantages and disadvantages.

Studies have shown that as barley straw decomposes it releases agents that inhibit algae growth with no adverse effects on your water garden plants or decorative pond fish. Originally customers would place bales of Barley Straw in their waterfall filter boxes, skimmers or waterfall areas where they would decompose over time. As barley straw treatments continue to grow in popularity new types of barley products have been made available. Barley Straw Pellets are available for a cleaner and easier way to implement barley treatments into your pond or for even faster results, Barley Extract. Barley Extract is basically barley straw already broken down into its beneficial byproducts.

While barley straw can help keep your pond less green this season it is not 100% effective on all algae that may form in your pond. One of the biggest issues with using barley straw and pellets is that you have to put them in your pond early in the season as they will need time to start decomposing before providing any benefits. Some may also argue that you are also adding muck and nutrients to your pond in the process. You will gain some speed by using barley straw extract but it then becomes less convenient because you will have to continuously add it to the pond. Barley also does not directly kill algae so chemical treatments may still eventually be required.

Your best defense against algae has always been a good offense. Keeping your pond clean and balanced with adequate filtration, bacteria treatments, minimal fish loads and sun exposure you will reduce your dependence and need for algae treatments in general. It is when your pond is balanced and just needs a little extra kick to keep algae at bay that your barley treatments really begin to shine as their gradual release of anti-algae agents will help maintain clear water throughout the season with minimal or no additional chemical treatment.

Pond Talk: Do you use barley straw as a part of your pond maintenance? Have you noticed a cleaner pond while using barley straw?

All the benefits of barley straw without the mess!

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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