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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 Shoreline Defense®, using a pressurized pond sprayer, such as the The Pond Guy® 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 Shoreline Defense® with 2 gallons of water and 4 ounces of Treatment Booster™ Plus, 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 Weed Cutter or the Jenlis Weed Razer™ 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?

I have phragmites in my pond, and they are so aggressive they even outgrow the cattails. What should I do? | Pond & Lakes Q&A

I have phragmites in my pond, and they are so aggressive they even outgrow the cattails. What should I do?

I have phragmites in my pond, and they are so aggressive they even outgrow the cattails. What should I do?
Kandy – Portland, OR

Phragmites are the worst kind of uninvited guest: once it makes its appearance, it’s too late to give it the slip. For those who have experienced phragmites, they’ll attest to its tenacity. They’ll also attest to its heartiness. Unlike the plants you’re actually trying to grow in your pond, phragmites requires no care and feeding at all – and it’s remarkably adept at withstanding any effort to slow it down. .

Characterized by a green stalk with purple/tan plumes in late July, the majority of each phragmites plant is underground. As a result, by the time you actually see a phragmites plant in your pond, its root system is well established – laying the groundwork to take over the entire body of water. In fact, phragmites plants continue to spread throughout their life, sending stalks skyward at a blistering pace. And once the stalks reach maturity – typically from early to late summer – the plants double their efforts at pond domination by distributing seeds throughout the watershed. Phragmites, it seems, is quite capable at taking care of itself.

When taken alone, phragmites might actually be considered attractive. Unfortunately, it has no interest in sharing its turf. Through its aggressive growth, phragmites chokes out native plant species in short order, and can transform an entire pond’s flora over the course of a single season. And while it’s nearly impossible to eliminate phragmites once it’s established, our Shoreline Defense® & Treatment Booster™ PLUS Combo – carefully and regularly applied with our Specialty Pond Sprayer– can significantly impair root system growth, while leaving room for the plants you’d like to keep around.

After herbicides are applied, many pond owners are eager to eliminate both existing growth and dead stalks left over from the previous season. Our Aquactic Weed Cutter makes short work of offending plants. Once the cutting is done, our Pond & Beach Rake helps to remove mess. In some instances, pond users also use controlled burns – after herbicide application – to remove standing plants. While this can be effective, it should never be practiced apart from herbicide use. Some evidence suggests that burning alone – without the use of herbicides – can actually increase the density of phragmites plants.

Good luck with your battle against phragmites. Stay vigilant, stay focused, and act quickly to curb new growth. The fight may last a long time – but the results will be worth the effort.

Pond Talk: Have you battled phragmites in your pond?

How can I find out the size of my pond? | Pond & Lake Q&A

There are some weeds in the pond but do I need to add anything else for my fish?

How can I find out the size of my pond?
Paul – Scottsdale, AZ

While most of us could take a quick guess at the size of our pond many times we don’t really know the true dimensions. Most products for pond treatment such as aquatic herbicides, aquatic algaecides, and pond dye are dosed based on surface acres or square footage. Being off by 30 ft. in pond measurement could mean reducing or increasing your pond size enough to make a treatment ineffective. So how should you go about getting the correct measurements of your pond?

It is important to understand that measuring your pond involves using a universal unit of measure like feet and inches. While you may know what you mean when you say the water comes up to your chin that will be interpreted differently from person to person. For measuring depth, tie a weight to some string and let it sink to the bottom of the pond, pull the string in just enough so there is no slack left. Mark the string at the surface of the water. Once you bring up your weight lay the line out on the ground and measure it with a tape measure for a more accurate reading. Take measurements in multiple areas as most ponds are not the same depth throughout. When measuring overall lengths and widths you can use a flexible tape to gather dimensions or measure your stride and pace off the dimensions. Typically one pace is around 3ft. If your pond is irregular in shape you can also use online applications like Google Earth and Bing to locate your pond and measure it from the comfort of your computer chair.

To calculate your pond size you must first figure the square footage of the pond. Multiply the length of your pond by the width to find your square footage. Let’s use a 200’ long by 100’ wide pond as an example. 200’x 100’ equals 20,000 square feet. 1 surface acre consists of 43,560 square feet. To find out how our 20,000 square foot pond measures up to 1 acre we can simply divide 20,000 by 43,560. You should end up with .45 surface acres or slightly under ½ surface acre. If your pond better represents a triangle or circle you can use the equations given below to help calculate the total surface area.

Pond Size Dimensions

If you are unsure of the best method for measuring your pond or want a second opinion you can always contact one of our pond guys and gals toll free at 866.766.3435 or use our web calculator.

Pond Talk: Was your pond dimension “guess” accurate with your actual pond measurements?

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