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I thought I did a successful chemical treatment, but why are the weeds coming back? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I thought I did a successful chemical treatment, but why are the weeds coming back?

Q: I thought I did a successful chemical treatment, but why are the weeds coming back?

Barney – Andalusia, AL

A: Treating weeds is a tricky task. Despite dosing them with aquatic herbicides to clear your pond or lake of plant pests, they seem to grow back over and over again. It seems like a never-ending cycle!

Why does this happen?

Well, chemical treatments have their benefits and drawbacks: On one hand, they work great as a quick fix to decimate actively growing weeds. But once those plants die, they become a food source for future weeds and algae, acting as a fertilizer for the very things you’re trying to get rid of. The herbicides do nothing to prevent future growth, and so you’re left with yet another growth spurt of pond weeds, which you’ll then treat with chemical herbicides – and around you’ll go again.

So how do you break the cycle? Here’s a four-step approach that will help put an end to it.

  1. Remove the Dead Weeds: Once the weeds have browned, use a Pond & Beach Rake or PondSkim™ Debris Skimmer to remove as much dead material from the water as possible. This prevents dead plant material and muck from accumulating and fertilizing future weed growth.
  2. Be Proactive: Debris will still find its way into your pond, so add some beneficial bacteria to the water to manage the excess nutrients before they feed your weeds. The products found in the ClearPAC® PLUS Pond Care Packages – including PondClear™ and EcoBoost™ for suspended debris, and MuckAway™ for accumulated bottom-of-the-pond debris – naturally break down that organic material.
  3. Add Aeration: If you don’t have one already, install a Airmax® Pond Series™ Aeration System that’s sized for your pond or lake. By circulating and adding oxygen to the water column, the beneficial bacteria will thrive. In turn, they’ll eat through even more debris and prevent weed and algae growth.
  4. Shade and Color: Also found in the ClearPAC® Plus package is Pond Dye, another offensive tactic in your battle against aquatic weeds. Pond dye shades the water blue or black, preventing ultraviolet light from reaching the plants.

Throughout the spring and summer, weeds will grow. But with some pond management practices, you can keep those pesky plants to a minimum.

Pond Talk: How often do you treat your pond or lake for weeds?

Remove Floating Debris Quickly - The Pond Guy(r) PondSkim(t) Debris Skimmer

When treating weeds and algae, why do I have to treat in sections? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: When treating weeds and algae, why do I have to treat in sections?

Q: When treating weeds and algae, why do I have to treat in sections?

Zahn- Cedar Rapids, IA

A: It’s all about the fish. Though it’s an inconvenience to you, treating your lake or pond’s weeds and algae in sections is critical for the health of your underwater inhabitants. Those herbicides and algaecides deplete the oxygen in the pond, creating a stressful environment for the fish. Partitioning the treatments keeps oxygen levels safe while minimizing the stress.

When combating weeds and algae in the summertime, remember these three things:

  • Warm Weather = Less Oxygen: In the hot summer months, the water column will naturally hold less oxygen as it warms up.
  • Chemical Treatments = Less Oxygen: When you treat the weeds and algae with Shoreline Defense® or Algae Defense®, the oxygen levels will decline in your pond.
  • Decaying Matter = Less Oxygen:As the herbicide and algaecide start to work, the decaying matter will begin to be consumed by microorganisms, which use up the oxygen in the water.

All of these things create a stressful situation for your fish. When that happens, their immune systems could suffer, and they could develop and succumb to disease – which is something you don’t want to happen.

So while treating your pond or lake, break it into quarter sections. Then treat one section and wait 10 to 14 days to allow the water time to rebalance its oxygen level before treating the next section. Some other things you can do to improve the oxygen levels in your pond:

  • Add Aeration: Aeration, like the Pond Series™ Aeration Systems, adds oxygen to the water below the surface. The oxygen is utilized by the fish as well as the beneficial bacteria and microorganisms, which break down the muck and detritus that feed the algae and weeds.
  • Rake Away the Debris: As the herbicide and algaecide go to work killing the pond pests, take time to rake out the dead debris before it becomes algae- and weed-feeding pond muck. The Pond & Beach Rake makes the chore quick and easy.

Pond Talk: What kinds of spring and summer maintenance chores have you been doing so far this year?

Create the Perfect Pond - Airmax(r) Pond Series(t) Aeration Systems

We had a couple of warm days. Is there anything I can do to get my pond ready for spring? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: We had a couple of warm days. Is there anything I can do to get my pond ready for spring?

Q: We had a couple of warm days. Is there anything I can do to get my pond ready for spring?

Jo – Armarillo, TX

A: We may have another month of winter ahead of us, but that doesn’t mean you can’t head out to the pond on sunny days and get a jump-start on your spring cleaning and maintenance chores. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Tidy Things Up
    Rain, snow, wind and winter precipitation do a number on landscaping, so take some time to clean up the foliage around your pond. Remove fallen branches, rake leaves and debris, cut down cattails and pull out any pond weeds you can reach. Two great all-purpose tools to use for the task are the Weed Cutter and the  Pond & Beach Rake. The cutter slices through floating debris like aquatic vegetation, weeds, cattails and phragmites; the rake, which works on land and in the water, allows you to mechanically remove those cut weeds, algae, muck and debris.
  2. Inspect Mechanical Parts
    Sunshine is a perfect excuse to tinker with outside toys, like your aeration system. Head out to the pond and check your air filters. Do they need changing? How’s the airflow from the lines? Is it what you expect? Is your air compressor operating properly? If needed, install new air filters, clean out your lines, and tune up your air compressor with replacement washers and fittings from your maintenance kit. Keep your system performing optimally – even if it’s still winter.
  3. Check Your Pond’s Temperature
    Using your water thermometer, check the water temperature in your pond or lake. If it reads above 50°F, you can start treating the water with ClearPAC® PLUS products like PondClear™ and  MuckAway™. The beneficial bacteria in PondClear™ will go to work removing excess nutrients, clearing up suspended organic waste and preventing noxious odors from surfacing. The beneficial bacteria in  MuckAway™ will digest stinky pond muck that coats the bottom of your pond or lake. Don’t start treating algae; however, until water temperatures top 60° F.

Pond Talk: What’s the first thing you plan to do with your pond or lake when spring finally arrives?

Keep Your Pond Clean and Clear All Season - Pond Logic(r) ClearPAC(r) PLUS

Do I treat phragmites the same as I treat cattails? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: Do I treat phragmites the same as I treat cattails?

Q: Do I treat phragmites the same as I treat cattails?

Ben – Clio, MI

A: Phragmites are trouble. These perennial, warm-season grasses are an invasive species in many parts of the country. When the dense stands take over a lake or wetland area, they can cause adverse ecological, economic and social impacts – including reduced access to your swimming or fishing hole and increased fire danger.

Before we discuss how to control these weeds, also termed “common reed,” let’s learn a bit more about them.

Phragmites 101

In their information-packed booklet titled, A Guide to the Control and Management of Invasive Phragmites, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and Michigan Department of Natural Resources describes phragmites as plants that can reach 15 feet in height with flat, stiff, tapering leaves. During growing season, the plant grows gray-green foliage and purple-brown-silver seed head plumes at the end of long stocks, which appear in late July. In the fall, the foliage turns tan and falls off, leaving behind the stock and plume-topped shoot throughout the winter.

But the worst part of phragmites is its rhizome and root system, which can grow to an incredible 60 feet in length and 6 feet deep. More than 80 percent of the plant’s yearly biomass is contained below ground, making it very difficult to treat and control.

Managing the Biomass

To eliminate phragmites, you have to attack the right portion of the plant at the right time within its life cycle. Here’s what we recommend.

  1. Herbicide Treatment: In the late summer, early fall when the phragmites are flowering, treat them with an herbicide. We recommend Shoreline Defense® to control cattails and for partial control of phragmites. When using an herbicide, make sure you use Treatment Booster™ PLUS, which contains a surfactant that will help the chemicals enter the plant’s system faster.
  2. Remove the Dead Weeds: In two to three weeks, after the weeds have died, cut them down with a Weed Cutter and manually remove the dead weeds – including the seed heads and rhizomes, which should be bagged and thrown away.
  3. Controlled Burn: In situations where it can be used safely and effectively, a prescribed fire is an effective and ecologically sound method for controlling phragmites. It’s critical, however, to first treat the area with herbicides and then follow-up with the controlled burn the following year in the late summer, according to the DEQ. Work closely with your local departments to ensure safety, proper permits are in order and timing is correct.

For more information about removing these invasive weeds and reclaiming your pond or late, contact your local Department of Natural Resources or Department of Environmental Quality. They have a wealth of knowledge and know-how to help.

Pond Talk: Have you successfully battled phragmites? What was your strategy?

Why can’t I use lawn weed killers to clean up my pond’s shoreline? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: Why can’t I use lawn weed killers to clean up my pond’s shoreline?

Q: Why can’t I use lawn weed killers to clean up my pond’s shoreline?

Kevin – Heath, OH

A: If you read the fine print on your favorite lawn weed killer and your favorite aquatic shoreline weed killer, you’ll notice that they both contain the same active ingredient—glyphosate. This broad-spectrum herbicide works wonders in destroying actively growing foliage. In fact, it’s one of the most popular weed destroyers out there.

Inert Ingredients

Just because the lawn weed killer and shoreline weed killer have the same active ingredient, however, doesn’t mean you can use them interchangeably. You see, the inert or inactive ingredients used in the formulas are different. Those different ingredients make the shoreline chemicals safe around bodies of water and lawn chemicals unsafe around bodies of water.

By law, these differences and designated uses must be noted on the herbicide’s label. The Environmental Protection Agency approves the label and warns consumers of any dangers. In fact, if you continue to read that fine print on your lawn weed killer’s label, you’ll find it says to not apply the product on or around water sources.

Stay Legal

If you’re treating weeds around your pond or lake, be sure to use one that has been approved for use around water bodies, like Shoreline Defense® and Treatment Booster™ PLUS. When applied directly to the foliage, the aquatic herbicide safely destroys a range of weeds and grasses—including cattails—on the shoreline, beach or anywhere emergent weeds grow.

Like it or not, you should read your labels and use the right formula for the job. You’ll be keeping your water supply safe, the government happy and your land legal.

Pond Talk: How carefully do you read the fine print on your lawn and aquatic herbicide’s labels?

Safely Treat Shoreline Weeds & Grasses - Pond Logic® Shoreline Defense® & Treatment Booster™ PLUS

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

Controlling Cattails – Reclaim Your Shoreline | Learning Center

Cattails and other emergent aquatic plants can add natural beauty to any pond or shoreline, but if left unchecked for too long, they can overtake these areas and create a maintenance nightmare. A consistent program is the most efficient way to combat excessive spread of unwanted weeds. Fortunately, there is a simple solution to keeping cattails in check. Follow these tips to maintain a pristine shoreline all season long.

Set Boundaries – Cattails are not all bad. They are nature’s solution to providing habitat for wildlife, preventing soil erosion and they make a great visual barrier to add some privacy to your pond. Like most things however, cattails are best in moderation. Highlight boundaries where you would like to contain cattails by using landmarks, rocks or other unobtrusive markers. Treat cattails that try to stray from these boundaries to keep their growth under control.

Spray Unwanted Growth – To maximize the effectiveness of your cattail treatments, wait until there is at least 12” – 18” of exposed growth to apply product. A systemic herbicide like Shoreline Defense® & Treatment Booster™ PLUS will kill the cattails down to the root to prevent the plant from re-growing. The roots of cattails are the most difficult part of the plant to kill. So, allow the mixture to absorb into the plant for one to two weeks. This will ensure the treatment gets into the root system. Do not try and stretch the application further than the instructions state. This will likely lead to unsatisfactory results and end up in more product used in the long run.

Remove Dead Cattails – Wait until treated cattails are brown and wilted to remove them from your pond. Cutting them down too early will prevent your chemical treatment from fully reaching and killing the cattail rhizome (root) resulting in a quick return of the weed. Don’t leave dead cattails, or any other vegetation, in your pond to decompose. This decomposition turns into nutrient-rich pond muck that fuels new weed growth. Tools like the Weed Cutter and Pond & Beach Rake exist to make the process as quick and simple as possible.

Retreat As Needed – Due to the fact that cattails have a robust root base, multiple treatments may be necessary to properly gain control. Once under control, they will make a nice addition to your landscape and encourage wildlife to call your pond home.