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I have a lot of cattail growth. Should I spray it now or just wait until spring? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I have a lot of cattail growth. Should I spray it now or just wait until spring?

Q: I have a lot of cattail growth. Should I spray it now or just wait until spring?

Thomas – Afton, MN

A: As long as those cattails are green and growing, you should spray them. Fall is actually an ideal time to treat pesky pond weeds because that’s when the matured plants soak up nutrients through their leaves to prepare for the coming winter. They’ll do the same thing with the herbicide—but it will cause their demise!

If you don’t spray the cattails, they won’t dry up and die. No, that would be too easy! When the weather gets cold, the leaves and stems will turn brown and dry up while the tuberous root systems in the soil below the surface lie dormant. Those tubers, having stored up energy all winter, will explode with new shoots and growth in the spring.

Plus, all that dead and dried up foliage will fall into your pond, adding decaying organics to the mix. That detritus—which is like fertilizer to pond weeds and algae—will cause an even bigger headache next year.

Spraying cattails now when they’re still green is your best bet. Here’s how we recommend you do it.

  1. Spray Growth: Using your tank sprayer, treat the cattails with Shoreline Defense® with Treatment Booster™ PLUS. Apply the herbicide, which has no usage restrictions, directly to all above-water foliage. The plant will draw it in through its leaves and die—roots and all.
  2. Spray Again: Wait about two weeks for the herbicide to kick in, and then repeat the process again to be sure you get that weed under control. This will be necessary in ponds with thick, abundant cattail growth.
  3. Remove Dead Foliage: As the cattails die, cut and rake out dead debris with your weed removal tools, like a weed cutter and pond rake. This will cut down on decomposing organics left in the pond, making it easier to get on top of any new growth in the spring.

Take some time during this late summer and fall to treat cattails. You’ll be glad you did!

Pond Talk: How do you manage cattails in your pond or lake?

Broad Spectrum Emergent Weed Killer - Shoreline Defense® & Treatment Booster™ PLUS

How do I get rid of cattails and phragmites? – Pond & Lake Q & A

How do I get rid of cattails and phragmites?

How do I get rid of cattails and phragmites? Fran – Disco, TN

Rough Around the Edges?

As you’ve enjoyed your pond over the spring and summer, all of a sudden you begin to see that our pond have built what seems to be an impenetrable wall of Cattails and Phragmites. No worries! Emergent weeds won’t ruin your summer fun. Here are the right tools to get even!

Treating emergent weeds in your pond is a two step process. You will want to focus on dealing with your existing growth first. You can kill Cattails and shoreline grasses down to the root by spraying them directly with Shoreline Defense® . If you are dealing more with Phragmites, Water Primrose or Loosestrife then you will see better results using Shoreline Defense® & Treatment Booster™ PLUS Combo. Make sure you are spraying the plants when they are alive and actively growing so that the aquatic herbicide is carried throughout the plant’s root system. A Pond Sprayer is a great way to apply these aquatic herbicides. Also note if the emergent weed growth is very thick, a couple applications may be needed to gain complete control. Once you see all of the target weeds brown and wilt you can cut them down and drag them away with a Weed Cutter and Pond & Beach Rake.

Once the weeds are cleared away from the edge of the pond you will want to focus on keeping them from growing back. While you can not keep every cattail seed from blowing into your pond, you can extinguish their food sources to deter then from making a repeat performance. Apply some MuckAway™ pelletized bacteria around the shallow areas of your pond to help digest any nutrient-rich slime that has accumulated on the bottom of the pond over time. This layer of muck acts as fertilizer for new weed growth, smells bad, and as if you needed another reason, it feels terrible between your toes when you are swimming in the pond. Aquatic weeds can also use sunlight as a means to grow so you can benefit from using Pond Dye to shade the pond as well. Not only will you reduce the amount of sun exposure your pond receives you can also choose a color that accents your pond and improves the appearance of the water body.

Some people enjoy the look and coverage that emergent weeds like Cattails provide. If you have considered keeping a few around for aesthetic purposes rest assured it is absolutely harmless to do so. You can still control and maintain these areas of growth using Avocet and Kraken, just be sure to mark off boundaries to keep the weeds from slowly creeping their way back out into the pond and out of control.

POND TALK: Has a wall formed between you and your pond? How did you gain the upper hand over Cattails, Phragmites or other emergent weeds?

Controlling Emergent Weeds – Pond & Lake Q & A

Picture of cattails with a pond in the background.

Pond & Lake Q & A

Q: What do I use to kill the emergent weeds on the shoreline? What sprayer should I purchase? NOTE: My kids swim in pond. – James of Wisconsin

A: At first sight or when controlled properly, cattails and other emergent weeds can add natural beauty, structure for fish and act as a buffer to reduce nutrients and sediment caused by runoff. But, beware! Emergent weeds can take over a pond very quickly if left alone for too long. It is best to pick an area of emergent weeds that you are acceptable with and mark it with boulders or other pieces of landscape. This will allow you to control only the emergent weeds that grow outside your acceptable boundary. There are 3 simple steps to control emergent weeds: 1) Spray… 2) Cut… 3) Repeat…

1.) Spray – Select the best product for the job. Shoreline Defense® & Treatment Booster™ PLUS Combo is best at providing long-term control for all types of grasses and cattails. It will also work for phragmites and/or purple loosestrife. Shoreline Defense® & Treatment Booster™ PLUS are mixed together with water and sprayed directly on to the target plant with a tank sprayer (We suggest using the The Pond Guy® Pond Sprayer). This will allow you to control all areas or select areas that you have set aside for this type of growth. Also note: Shoreline Defense® & Treatment Booster™ PLUS have no swimming use restrictions.

2) Cut – Emergent weeds can sometimes have a root base deep within the ground so removing them before they are completely dead will allow them to come back very quickly. Most emergent weeds are best treated when the foliage is around 12″ high. This will allow enough contact for the aquatic herbicide. After a successful treatment, they will turn brown and become limp within 7-14 days. After this occurs, use an Aquatic Weed Cutter to cut the weeds at their base and then simply rake them out with the Pond & Beach Rake.

3) Repeat – Repeat these steps as necessary. In some cases it may take several applications to gain control.


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