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When can I start treating my shoreline for new cattail growth? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: When can I start treating my shoreline for new cattail growth?

Q: When can I start treating my shoreline for new cattail growth?

Charlie – Bottineau, ND

A: When the wall of cattails comes between you and your recreational pond or lake, it’s time to retake control of your shoreline! Once the cattails are 18 inches above the water’s surface, you can start treating the new growth.

Here’s how we recommend managing cattails:

Set Boundaries

Not all cattails are bad. They provide a habitat for wildlife, like amphibians, insects, birds and fish. Their below-the-ground rhizomes stop soil erosion. And their green strap-like foliage, which stands 3 to 10 feet tall, adds beachfront privacy. So rather than totally eradicate cattails from your pond or lake, set boundaries for them and treat them when they stray.

Chemical Control

The most common way to control cattails is to apply an EPA-registered herbicide like Shoreline Defense® with a pressurized pond sprayer to the foliage of actively growing plants. The product is absorbed by the weed, ultimately killing it all the way down to its roots. It’s a perfect solution for beaches, shorelines or anywhere emergent weeds grow.

Physical Removal

Once the herbicide has had a chance to fully soak into the cattail’s root system, the plant will turn brown and become limp. At this point, you should remove the stalks. Why? Those dead cattails and decomposing foliage will turn into muck—which will act as a fertilizer for next season’s cattails. Cut the stalks using The Pond Guy® Weed Cutter and or the Jenlis Weed Razer™ Pro at the base of the plants, allowing for easier removal with your Rake.

Stay in Control

Cattails have extensive root systems, and so staying on top of their growth is key to preventing them from turning into a cattail wall—and taking over your shoreline!

Pond Talk: What critters live in your stand of cattails?

Kill Cattails To Their Roots - Pond Logic® Shoreline Defense® & Treatment Booster™ PLU

5 Responses

  1. Good day Pond Guy!
    My boss took a job to physically (backhoe) remove a large stand of cattails at a clients property. I’ve been all over the internet to find out this very simple question: How deep on average do cattail roots go?
    He’s basically trying to figure out how much waste we are going to generate to quote the job efficiently.
    Thanks so much!!

    • Hi – Cattail roots are fairly shallow and spread out horizontally. The older the growth, the deeper the cattail’s roots will go. I would check various spots around the growth you will be removing to see the true depth. I apologize it’s not an exact number, it could be as shallow as 6″ or as deep as 18″-24″.

      • Thanks for the quick reply!
        I basically told my boss the same depths, as that is what my research showed. I’m guessing it won’t be too deep as it’s only 2 years of growth, they came it and took over fast! Another upside is the area isn’t full of H2O all season, just the spring. But that prevented me from doing the drowning method. This area is also in a very hoity-toity neighborhood. They want the work done quickly with not a whole lot of regard to the environment… Sad.

  2. I have a 1/4 acre pond with a few water lilies, that stay in the pond year round. If I use Shoreline defense for a cattail problem, will it affect the water lilies?
    Thanks, Michael

    • Hi Michael – It can. Shoreline Defense is a contact herbicide, so it will kill whatever foliage it may come into contact with. As long as you only spray the cattail foliage and minimize any spray onto your water lilies, there should be little to no effect.

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