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I think I have grass growing in my pond. Could it be Sago pondweed? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I think I have grass growing in my pond. Could it be Sago pondweed?

Q: I think I have grass growing in my pond. Could it be Sago pondweed?

Lewie- Gwinner, ND

A: Sago pondweed, or Potamogeton pectinatus, is a distinctive aquatic plant that kind of does resemble grass.

Sago is a perennial that grows from thickly matted rhizomes. It has no floating leaves, but it has thin, long and branching stems with tapering, filament-like leaves that are 1/16 of an inch wide and 2 to 12 inches in length. The leaves grow in thick layers and originate from a sheath. The plants produce a nut-like fruit that’s 1/8 to 1/4 inch long and 1/10 to 1/8 inch wide.

Pondweed Pros and Cons
The Sago pondweed, like other aquatic plants, provides habitat for many below- and above-the-surface critters. From the birds that eat the plant’s fruit and tubers to the fish that find food and safety in their stems, the pondweed has lots of fans. Even fungi and beneficial bacteria benefit from it – as the plant decomposes, the microorganisms feed on the detritus.

But Sago also has its drawbacks. Plants rapidly spread between bodies of water. In a small water body or backyard pond, unchecked Sago can become a nuisance. And when you do mechanically remove it, remaining plant fragments, including leaves and roots, can sprout new growth.

Controlling Sago
If you suspect Sago in your pond, you have several management options. Here’s what we recommend to help you get the weed under control.

  1. Herbicides: To rid your pond or lake of Sago, an herbicide will be necessary.
    • Sonar™ A.S. is a season-long herbicide. One treatment wipes out Sago and many other common floating and submerged pond weeds for the entire season.
    • Ultra PondWeed Defense® is a broad-spectrum herbicide that will quickly kill Sago. It doesn’t stay in the water body, however, so multiple treatments may be necessary.
    • Clipper™ is a fast and selective herbicide that controls tough invasive and nuisance floating and submerged aquatic plants. It comes in a fine wettable powder to spray weeds.
  2. Mechanical Removal: Once it has turned brown and died, Sago pondweed can be removed by raking it with a Weed Raker™ – but remember that the plant will sprout and reestablish from any remaining roots, seeds and foliage fragments.
  3. Pond Dye: Non-toxic dyes, like Pond Logic® Pond Dye, reduce and prevent Sago pondweed growth by limiting sunlight penetration.
  4. Aeration and Beneficial Bacteria: Aerating your pond or lake with an Airmax® Aeration System can help, too – particularly if you’re using the beneficial bacteria found in PondClear™ . The extra oxygen in the water fuels the tiny bacteria as they break down nutrients that fertilize the Sago.

Pond Talk: Have you ever had Sago pondweed in your pond or lake? How did you get it under control?

Broad Spectrum Control - Pond Logic(r) Ultra PondWeed Defense (r)

I have a plant that looks like a cattail, but it has a plume on top instead of a catkin. What is it? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

I have a plant that looks like a cattail, but it has a plume on top instead of a catkin. What is it?

Q: I have a plant that looks like a cattail, but it has a plume on top instead of a catkin. What is it?

Mike – Cottonwood, AZ

A: It sounds like you’ve got phragmites. Also known as “common reed,” certain invasive varieties of this plant have taken root on the East Coast, Midwest and Pacific Northwest – and, apparently, in your pond! To identify the species of phragmite in your pond, check out Cornell University’s “Morphological Differences” website here.

Phragmite 101

Generally speaking, phragmite is a perennial wetland grass that can grow to 6 to 15 feet in height. Its stems, which are erect, smooth and hollow, measure nearly 1 inch in diameter and are topped with 12-inch-long dense panicles, or purple-brown pyramid-shaped plumes of flowers, that emerge between July and September. The leaves that arise from the stem are 10 to 20 inches long and up to 2 inches wide.

The plants propagate mainly via an extensive network of underground rhizomes, or horizontal stems, that produce roots and shoots that grow as deep as 39 inches, with their root systems growing down another 3 feet. They’re hardy – and unfortunately, they can be tough to control.

A Substantial Threat

These invasive, non-native bad guys can do some serious damage to your lake or pond. Not only do they create tall, dense stands that crowd out native plants and animals, but they also block your shoreline views, create fire hazards from dry plant material, and reduce areas for swimming, fishing and hunting. They’re definitely not something you want on your property.

Treatment Options

Once phragmites has taken root in your lake or pond, you’ll need to develop a long-term management plan to control them. Unfortunately, because the plants spread through their rhizomes, they could be difficult to eradicate entirely. That’s where chemical and mechanical control can help.

  • Chemical control: First, you can spray an EPA-registered herbicide and surfactant product, like Kraken™ & Cide-Kick™ Combo, in the late summer or early fall. Mix the herbicide with 2 gallons of water, pour it into pond sprayer and spray on the plants with your Airmax® Pressurized Pond Sprayer, completely wetting the surface of the leaves. Allow the mixture to absorb into the plant and the root system – the most difficult part of the plant to kill – for two weeks.
  • Mechanical control: Once the herbicide has had a chance to soak into the phragmites’ root system and kill the plants, use a weed cutting and removal tool, like the Pond Logic® Pond Rake and Weed Cutter, to slice at the base of the plants and remove them. If you can control your pond’s or lake’s water line, you can also cut the phragmites 2 to 3 inches below the water surface to cut off the plant’s supply of oxygen and drown the plant.
  • Destroy what you’ve removed: To prevent the accidental spread of the plant, collect the cut material and bag it before disposing of it. In extreme cases, prescribed burning after herbicide treatment can provide additional control.

Before you begin, check with your local environmental agency to see if a permit is required for the treatments of these buggers. Plan to repeat this routine several years in a row. Patches may emerge even after regular treatments, but once you’ve wiped out the majority of the phragmites, the plant will be much easier to control. Just remember: early detection is key!

Pond Talk: How do you control phragmites in your lake or pond?

Kraken™ Aquatic Herbicide & Cide-Kick™ Combo - Eliminate Emergent Weeds

Why can’t I treat my pond with the common weed killer I use around my yard? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Why can’t I treat my pond with the common weed killer I use around my yard?

Q: Why can’t I treat my pond with the common weed killer I use around my yard?

Duane – Spring Grove, PA

A: It may seem like a convenience and a cost savings to use your terrestrial weed herbicides to treat weeds in your pond or lake. But when it comes to managing nuisance growth in and around your pond, not all chemicals are created equally.

Though broad-spectrum-use herbicides like diuron work great on grassy terrestrial weeds, they’re not approved for use on cattails and water milfoil because of the direct contact with public waterways or possibility of leaching into drinking/ground water. Instead, you need to use products that are registered by the Environmental Protection Agency for aquatic use, like Pond Logic® Algae Defense®, PondWeed Defense® and Avocet® PLX aquatic herbicides.

Why the regulations? Read on for details.

Environmental Protection

The EPA registers products like herbicides for aquatic use to protect the environment. Its goal is to minimize harm while maximizing results.

The government agency tests the ingredients’ concentration, frequency of use and effectiveness for their short-term and long-term effects in their intended environment. It also checks the chemicals’ half life, which is how long the substances remain in the environment before breaking down enough to be considered non-toxic.

Safer for Your Pond Visitors

If you use unapproved chemicals in your pond or lake, you could be doing harm to not only the ecosystem but also to your fish, your livestock and wildlife, your soil and, most importantly, to yourself, your family and your neighbors.

Herbicides that have been approved by the EPA include specific restrictions and precautions on their labels about consuming fish after treating bodies of water. They caution against swimming in or drinking from treated ponds within a certain amount of time after application. They even warn of soil contamination issues that landowners or pond professionals should be aware of.

Chemicals that are not approved for aquatic use have none of these warnings because they have not been tested for their effects on the pond habitat. In fact, some products can actually be considered a contaminant to the aquatic environment – and you don’t want that, right?

Obey the EPA

Even if you don’t consume your game fish, swim in your lake or drink the water, you should steer clear of unapproved chemicals. Some of them can leach into the soil surrounding the pond or be released during heavy rains when ponds flood. That runoff – including the potentially toxic chemicals – can then be released into the public waterways or wetlands used by neighbors.

Play it safe. Obey the EPA.

Pond Talk: What do you think of the EPA’s regulation of aquatic herbicides?

Pond Logic PondWeed Defense - Eliminate Aquatic Weeds

How Do I Tell Chara & Naiad Apart? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

How Do I Tell Chara & Naiad Apart?

Thomas – Williamston, MI

It’s very important to be able to tell Chara and Naiad apart. Why? Because Chara is actually a form of algae and you must use an algaecide, like Algae Defense or Cutrine®-Plus, to treat it. Naiad, which looks similar to Chara, is an aquatic weed and you should use an herbicide, like Pond Logic® PondWeed Defense®, to treat it.
A couple of things to look for to help you differentiate between the two pond nuisances:

• Chara lacks true leaves because it is algae. Instead, it has 6 to 16 leaf-like branchlets that grow in spirals (whorls) around the stem. These branchlets often have tiny, thorn-like projections.
• Naiad has dark-green to greenish-purple, ribbon-like leaves. Naiad leaves are arranged oppositely on the stem, or sometimes in whorls of 3.
• Chara has no defined root system
• Naiad has a well-established root system
• Chara gets a foul, musky, almost garlic-like odor late in the season

If you are still unsure what type of plant you are dealing with, consider applying Hydrothol 191. A granular algaecide/herbicide, Hydrotol 191 is proven to treat both algae AND aquatic weeds but carries a 25 day irrigation & 3 day fish consumption restriction.

Pond Talk: Have you battled Chara or Naiad in your pond? How did you treat it?

How Do I Get Rid Of Phragmites? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

How Do I Get Rid Of Phragmites?

Robert – Steamboat Springs, CO

Phragmites, also known as common reeds, are wetland grasses that can grow up to 15 feet in height. They quickly become a nuisance because they form dense patches that choke out native plant and wildlife species, block shoreline views, and reduce access for swimming and fishing.

Completely eliminating phragmites takes several treatments. The majority of the plant is an extensive underground root system that is very difficult to fully eliminate. You can control the density and spread of phragmites with regular chemical treatments applied with a pressurized pond sprayer. Consider using an herbicide such as Kraken, which carries no restrictions on recreational use or livestock consumption of water from the treatment area.

Once phragmites have died, you should cut or burn the dead vegetation. The best time to treat phragmites is the summer when the plant is actively growing and seeding.

How Do I Treat Duckweed? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

How Do I Treat Duckweed?

How Do I Treat Duckweed?

Tim – Rock Hall, MD

Duckweed is a very small floating plant about the size of a pencil eraser. It has shoe-sole shaped leaves with a small, hair-like root hanging below. Since duckweed floats on the surface of the pond, it is commonly mistaken for and treated as if it is algae. Unfortunately, algaecides have no effect on duckweed but there are a couple treatments you can do to keep the prolific duckweed at bay.

The Short-Term Solution
To treat duckweed as well as other aquatic weeds on a short-term basis, you can use Pondweed Defense® or RedWing™. Both are great for a one-time treatment or for spot treating. These are, however, only short-term solutions for duckweed. Due to their aggressive nature, duckweed can grow back in as little as 3 to 4 weeks. This is why we suggest a longer-term solution.

The Long-Term Solution
One of the only products on the market to provide long-term, season-long control of duckweed and other aquatic weeds is called WhiteCap™. Instead of having to spray the plant directly, WhiteCap™ is sprayed directly into the water. WhiteCap™ works by preventing photosynthesis in aquatic plants and by doing so causes them to slowly parish. Treating duckweed and other aquatic plants in this fashion allows for complete control of the entire water body for the season instead of just a few weeks.

Novasource WhiteCap SC Aquatic Herbicide

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