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Controlling Cattails – Ponds & Lakes

Dyed Pond


Controlling Cattails
Cattails provide a natural habitat for fish and help reduce nutrients and sediment that run off into your pond. They are also used in some ponds to add to its overall aesthetic appeal. While there are a few benefits to having cattails around your pond, at what point do they become an inconvenience and how do you get rid of them?

Mark Your Territory
While you enjoy the presence of cattails in your pond, they can quickly take over your pond and become an unsightly pest. An easy way to keep your cattails in check is by marking boundaries in your pond. By establishing reference points, it will be easier to tell when your cattails are trying to spread out, enabling you to address the situation before it has a chance to get out of hand.

Spray it, Don’t Say It
When a pond becomes overgrown with cattails, it can seem like regaining control will become an epic battle. Using a spray on aquatic herbicide like Shoreline Defense®” will make short work of your cattail woes. Treating cattails is as simple as mixing Shoreline Defense® into a tank sprayer with the corresponding amount of water and spraying it onto the plant surface. The herbicide will soak into the plant and work its way to its roots, killing it completely. Once the cattails are dead, you can cut them away from your pond with an aquatic weed cutter and rake them away from your pond.

Even Super Heroes Use Sidekicks
Using a surfactant like Treatment Booster™ PLUS will greatly increase the effectiveness of Shoreline Defense®. Treatment Booster™ PLUS helps break down the waxy cuticle of the cattail leaves, enabling a more effective uptake of herbicide. Mix 2 ounces of Treatment Booster™ PLUS for every gallon of water and Shoreline Defense® solution and you are ready to spray! Treatment Booster™ PLUS can be used in a number of aquatic herbicides and is not exclusively used with Shoreline Defense®.

New and Improved
To make your pond maintenance even easier, you can now purchase Shoreline Defense® & Treatment Booster™ PLUS Combo.

POND TALK: Do you keep cattails in your pond? How do you control their spread?

16 Responses

  1. Dear Pond Guy
    Will Shoreline Defense Aquatic-herbicide affect any wildlife/fish/birds?

    • Hi Gary – There are no water use restrictions for Shoreline Defense just keep animals away from the area while the product is being applied.

  2. Thanks for the advice on the Avocet. I really think this will do the trick with my cattails problem and help keep things under control. I always have had such bad problems keeping things an a balanced level with my pond.

  3. We are ~ 2 miles from the cities water storage. We have ~ 9 acre lake and wish to kill the cattails. Can we use Avocet-PLX?

    • Hi Steve,

      Avocet is actually applied directly to the cat tails, not to the water iteself. Also, Avocet does not have any water use restrictions, just be sure to spray only what you want to kill. Overspray could affect lawn or other plants. Keep these tips in mind and you will be just fine.

  4. I have excellent results with the cattails dying by cutting the cattails below the surface of the water.
    Once they emerge above the surface and grow to about one or two feet tall, I will cut them a few inches below the water line.
    If they are not in standing water, I pull them out by hand, trying to get the root and stem altogether.
    I have a backyard pond 50′ x 150′ with a cattail swamp 10′ from one edge. I leave the cattail swamp alone in its natural setting.

  5. Question: Is this produce allowed in California? We have cattails and they did indeed overgrow the pond. Controlling chemicals were not available here. We pulled by hand……
    Thank you for your input.

    • Hi Patricia,

      Unfortunetly we do not have any product that you can use to apply to cattails to stop their growth. We do have an eradicator to help cut them down. Aeration and natural bacteria will help keep your pond healthy as well.

  6. At what point in time do you spray the cattails. in the spring as new growth starts or later in the year?

    • Hi James,

      You really can treat for cattails at any time during the season as long as they are at least 18″ above the surface of the water and actively growing. The optimum time for treatment would be towards the end of the season when the cattails are fully grown.

  7. Can you use Avocet PLX in a harbor on a Lake or would you have to get permission? Thanks gwen

    • Hi Gwen,
      Yes, anytime you are applying chemical to a water body that is not privately owned or has inlets and outlets to other waterways you need to have a permit.

  8. Is Avocet the right stuff to use on grass growing in the pond? Will it harm fish? Is it OK for children to play in the water after Avocet has been used? Do you need a surfactant with grass even though it doesn’t have a waxy surface?

    • Hi Andy,

      Avocet is the best product for grass around the pond’s edge. Grasses still do have some waxy coating so you will definetly still want to use the Cide-Kick. This is fish safe and isn’t harmful to humans once it is applied and dissolved. As with any chemical you would not want to come in contact with concentrated chemical. I would suggest waiting at least 24 hrs before playing in the area of application.

  9. is the best way to get rid of willow trees around a pond is to cut them down ….this winter we went out on the pond when froze and cut the trees down that we did not want…should we have treated that stump? or are willows an ongoing thing?

    • Hi Roberta,

      You may be able to control the willows with a product called Kraken depending on how well established the willows are. Kraken is formulated for woody brush species. You will want to do the treatment while they are alive and growing instead of treating just a stump.

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