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I still have dead cattails standing from last year. Should I cut them down? | Pond & Lakes Q&A

I still have dead cattails standing from last year. Should I cut them down?

I still have dead cattails standing from last year. Should I cut them down?

Josh – Canton, OH

It seems not even the harsh winter winds and giant piles of snow are a match for cattails growing around your pond. After a much awaited spring thaw you may still see dead cattail reeds standing tall for all to see. Nobody wants an abundance of aquatic weeds overtaking their pond so will managing those existing cattails help you maintain your pond this season?

Cattails left in your pond throughout the season will begin to go into a state of dormancy as we head into winter. While the reed or stalk of the cattail browns out and dies the rhizome, or roots, will become inactive underground until next season. At this time the dead stalks remaining above ground will begin to decompose and add muck to the pond if not removed. To remove these dead cattails from your pond you will want to use management tools like the Weed Eradicator to cut through tough cattail reeds with ease and then use the pond rake to rake them away from the pond. Raking this debris out of the pond before it decays and turns into muck will save you the hassle of rampant algae blooms and weed growth later in the season. If you do notice an abundance of submerged debris and muck in your pond you can start using MuckAway™ or PondClear™ bacteria to help clean the pond once your water temperatures are stably around 50 degrees.

With old stalks cleared from the pond it will be easier to address any new growth that may begin in the spring. Once the cattails begin to show signs of new growth of at least 18” you can begin further treatment. To control active cattails use products like Avocet® PLX as it is absorbed by the cattail reed and delivered directly to the rhizome killing the entire plant. Once the cattail reed has become inactive and brown it will no longer act like a transport system for chemical treatments rendering them ineffective and these stalks can be cut down as well.

Not all cattail growth is bad and many pond owners use cattails to provide shade for their pond, privacy, prevent soil erosion, create fish habitat and some people even cook and eat them. If you choose to leave areas of your pond more natural make sure you mark boundaries along your shoreline to ensure you can monitor the spread of your cattails and control them as necessary.

Pond Talk: Do you leave some cattails in your pond? What do you use them for?

Clean your shorline with the weed raker and weed eradicator

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