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My pond is about a quarter acre, and I have ducks so I don’t want to use chemicals. Can I use barley straw? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A


Q: My pond is about a quarter acre, and I have ducks so I don’t want to use chemicals. Can I use barley straw?

Q: My pond is about a quarter acre, and I have ducks so I don’t want to use chemicals. Can I use barley straw?

Katie – Johnson, VT

A: More and more people are using barley straw as an all-natural (and duck friendly) way to control pond scum—and for good reason. Barley straw is a safe, natural alternative to manufactured chemicals and one of the compounds produced by submerged, decomposing barley straw may actually help keep your pond clear.

You need a lot of it to be effective.

In your quarter-acre pond, you’d need between 25 and 50 pounds (1 to 2 standard bales) of barley straw, depending on your pond’s condition. That straw would then need to be broken up, divided among several permeable bags and placed around the perimeter of the pond with weights in water no deeper than 6 feet.

That’s a lot of work!

And if you don’t replace the barley straw as it decomposes, it just turns into more decaying organic debris in the pond.

So what are your options?

Focus on the health of your pond. Reduce the decomposing plant matter, fish waste and other nutrients by adding a stout aeration system and wildlife-safe beneficial bacteria.

Reconsider manufactured chemicals, like Algae Defense®. The algaecide has no water use restrictions, and it’s safe to use around ducks and other wildlife. And because it only needs to be used when algae growth is occurs, you could use it as a one-time algae bomb. Not all chemicals are bad!

But if you want to give barley straw a try, check out this “fact sheet,” provided by The Ohio State University Extension. It details everything you need to know about using barley straw.

Pond Talk: Have you ever used barley straw? How did it work in your pond or lake?

Promote A Healthy Ecosystem - Pond Logic® PondClear™ Natural Bacteria

5 Responses

  1. Have been using hydrogen peroxide for a few years now with good results, no string algae. Pond is 800 gallons and I use 16 oz every two to three weeks.

  2. I use barley straw and it really improves clarity. There are pellet and liquid forms that work faster and are less mess. (Cost more though)

  3. I want to know this, if Algae Defense is safe to use on water and wild life, why is it restricted in some states? I live in NY and have a hard time with algae control in the spring when the water warms up. I use the bacteria and eventually it gets rid of it, but it would sure be nice if I could use something that would knock it down fast. I get very frustrated when I see a product that would work great for my problems only to find out I can’t buy it.

    • Hi Dawn – We understand it can be frustrating. New York, California, Maine and some others have very strict environmental protection laws in place restricting the use of chemicals. NY state requires permits and licensed applicators for the use of aquatic herbicides and algaecides.

  4. The barley straw was good when I first put them in my pond. It caused string algae to rise to the top so that I could scoop it out with a skimmer. But after a couple of weeks, it made the algae worse because it broke it up into little pieces that filled the pond. It was ugly. I wrote Red Earth Naturals and they said it was supposed to do that and that the filter could take care of it. I do not have a filter. I have spring water coming in one end and going out the other. So, it didn’t work for me. I took all the barley straw out, figured out a way to have water hyacinths in the pond without the koi eating the roots and destroying the plants, and now I have clean water thanks to the water hyacinths..

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