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Why can’t I treat my pond with the common weed killer I use around my yard? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Why can’t I treat my pond with the common weed killer I use around my yard?

Q: Why can’t I treat my pond with the common weed killer I use around my yard?

Duane – Spring Grove, PA

A: It may seem like a convenience and a cost savings to use your terrestrial weed herbicides to treat weeds in your pond or lake. But when it comes to managing nuisance growth in and around your pond, not all chemicals are created equally.

Though broad-spectrum-use herbicides like diuron work great on grassy terrestrial weeds, they’re not approved for use on cattails and water milfoil because of the direct contact with public waterways or possibility of leaching into drinking/ground water. Instead, you need to use products that are registered by the Environmental Protection Agency for aquatic use, like Algae Defense®, Aquathol® and Shoreline Defense® aquatic herbicides.

Why the regulations? Read on for details.

Environmental Protection

The EPA registers products like herbicides for aquatic use to protect the environment. Its goal is to minimize harm while maximizing results.

The government agency tests the ingredients’ concentration, frequency of use and effectiveness for their short-term and long-term effects in their intended environment. It also checks the chemicals’ half life, which is how long the substances remain in the environment before breaking down enough to be considered non-toxic.

Safer for Your Pond Visitors

If you use unapproved chemicals in your pond or lake, you could be doing harm to not only the ecosystem but also to your fish, your livestock and wildlife, your soil and, most importantly, to yourself, your family and your neighbors.

Herbicides that have been approved by the EPA include specific restrictions and precautions on their labels about consuming fish after treating bodies of water. They caution against swimming in or drinking from treated ponds within a certain amount of time after application. They even warn of soil contamination issues that landowners or pond professionals should be aware of.

Chemicals that are not approved for aquatic use have none of these warnings because they have not been tested for their effects on the pond habitat. In fact, some products can actually be considered a contaminant to the aquatic environment – and you don’t want that, right?

Obey the EPA

Even if you don’t consume your game fish, swim in your lake or drink the water, you should steer clear of unapproved chemicals. Some of them can leach into the soil surrounding the pond or be released during heavy rains when ponds flood. That runoff – including the potentially toxic chemicals – can then be released into the public waterways or wetlands used by neighbors.

Play it safe. Obey the EPA.

Pond Talk: What do you think of the EPA’s regulation of aquatic herbicides?

Is there an easier way to get rid of weeds? I’m tired of pulling them by hand. | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Is there an easier way to get rid of weeds? I’m tired of pulling them by hand.

Q: Is there an easier way to get rid of weeds? I’m tired of pulling them by hand.

Beverly – Richfield, WI

A: Who doesn’t love tools? They’re cool to look at, fun to play with – and, the best part, they help make chores easy. When it comes to maintaining your pond or lake, tools of all shapes and sizes will come in very handy, particularly these four must-haves, below.

Pond Rake

A pond rake pulls, gathers and removes dead debris from the surface or the bottom of a pond.

Debris on the surface of a pond, like algae or fallen leaves, can sink to the bottom and start to decay, adding to the muck and detritus that’s already there. All that debris degrades water quality, compromises fish health, provides a nutrient source for nuisance plants, and can even affect chemical treatments’ ability to work.

A floating/sub-surface pond rake, like the The Pond Guy® Pond and Beach Rake, or a sub-surface pond rake, like the Jenlis Weed Raker™, lends a long helping hand. Elongated by rope so you can easily get the deep-water growth, both rakes work by removing submerged lake and pond weeds by their roots, slowing their spread.

Weed Cutter

A weed cutter, like the The Pond Guy® Weed Cutter and the Jenlis Weed Razer™, mechanically slices through weeds at their stems so they can then be raked out.

The 28-inch, double-sided The Pond Guy® Weed Cutter features a two-piece, rust-proof, powder-coated aluminum handle that’s 11 feet long. It’s great for removing floating aquatic vegetation, marginal weeds and cattails that extend past the pond’s edge.

The V-shaped Jenlis Weed Razer™ clears a 4-foot-wide path in pond weeds by sinking to the bottom and slicing through submerged weeds like watermilfoil, cattails and lily pads as you pull it across the pond. The razor-sharp tool weighs just 8 pounds, making it light enough to toss 30 feet or more yet heavy enough to sink straight to the bottom.

Sprayer

A sprayer makes pond chemical application easy. Most liquid chemicals are more effective when they’re sprayed over the target weed, and a tank sprayer, like an The Pond Guy® Specialty Pressurized Pond Chemical Tank Sprayer, is designed just for this purpose. The 2.75-gallon pond tool features a wide-mouth fill top that minimizes accidental spills and a high-pressure tank that allows you to spray hard-to-reach weeds.

Invest in a separate sprayer just for pond chemicals. If you use lawn and garden chemicals in the same sprayer that you use on your pond, doing so can be toxic to fish and other aquatic life as residue could be left behind. Keep your fish and pond plants healthy and happy: Use a different tool for the job.

Granular Spreader

The final must-have tool is a granular spreader, which helps you disperse granular herbicides evenly over your target area – and that means a more effective weed kill-off. The rust-proof Earthway® Granular Hand Spreader holds 10 pounds of material in a large hopper and features an application adjuster that lets you control how much product is released with its smooth-action hand crank.

Pond Talk: If you could only have one pond-care tool in your toolbox, what would it be? Why?

The Pond Guy® Pond & Beach Rake - Remove Weeds & Muck Build Up

Why Does Algae Keep Growing In My Pond, Even After I Treat With Algaecides? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: Why does algae keep growing in my pond, even after I treat with algaecides?

Cathy – Bagley, WI

A: Algae seems to take on a life of its own sometimes, doesn’t it? Once that green slimy, stringy or seaweed-looking stuff crops up, it keeps growing and growing until you wind up with a messy situation in your pond or lake. Even if you treat it with algaecides, it still grows back.

Turns out that all these tiny plants need to grow is sunlight and food source – both of which are abundant during certain sunny times of year and when there’s a healthy mix of detritus built up along the bottom of the lake. To make things worse (or better for the algae!), when a pond is treated with chemicals, the process just adds dead algae to the pond, which is actually a food source for the growing algae.

Rather than battle this green monster after it has a foothold, it’s best to take a proactive approach. After you verify that you’re dealing with algae and not weeds (read here for a quick lesson on chara and other types of algae), we recommend you follow these four all-natural steps for preventing algae attacks:

1. Use Aeration: Aeration systems, like Airmax Aeration®, circulates debris that has accumulated in the lake or pond so it doesn’t settle at the bottom and become algae food. Aeration also spreads the debris throughout the water column, making it more accessible to beneficial bacteria that break it down.

2. Use Natural Bacteria: Natural beneficial bacteria, such as Pond Logic® PondClear™ Beneficial Bacteria, power through nitrates, breaking down fish waste, leaves and other organics that accumulate in the pond. This naturally improves the water clarity as the bacteria devour the sediment.

3. Use EcoBoost™: Pond Logic® EcoBoost™ Bacteria Enhancer is an innovative product that binds algae-feeding phosphates in ponds and stimulates the growth of essential beneficial bacteria, which are essential when controlling algae in your lake or pond.

4. Use Pond Dye: Because algae thrive in sunlight, Pond Dye filters those rays and stops them from reaching below the surface, thereby preventing algae from growing. Plus, the cool colors mask the soupy green hue of the algae.

We can’t guarantee your algae problem will disappear, but if you follow these steps you’ll be creating a pond that’s inhospitable to algae invaders.

Pond Talk: How have your algae blooms been this spring and summer compared to last year?

Airmax® Aeration Systems - Even Ponds Need To Breathe

How Do I Tell Chara & Naiad Apart? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

How Do I Tell Chara & Naiad Apart?

Thomas – Williamston, MI

It’s very important to be able to tell Chara and Naiad apart. Why? Because Chara is actually a form of algae and you must use an algaecide, like Algae Defense® or Cutrine®-Plus, to treat it. Naiad, which looks similar to Chara, is an aquatic weed and you should use an herbicide, like Ultra PondWeed Defense® , to treat it.
A couple of things to look for to help you differentiate between the two pond nuisances:

• Chara lacks true leaves because it is algae. Instead, it has 6 to 16 leaf-like branchlets that grow in spirals (whorls) around the stem. These branchlets often have tiny, thorn-like projections.
• Naiad has dark-green to greenish-purple, ribbon-like leaves. Naiad leaves are arranged oppositely on the stem, or sometimes in whorls of 3.
• Chara has no defined root system
• Naiad has a well-established root system
• Chara gets a foul, musky, almost garlic-like odor late in the season

If you are still unsure what type of plant you are dealing with, consider applying Hydrothol 191. A granular algaecide/herbicide, Hydrotol 191 is proven to treat both algae AND aquatic weeds but carries a 25 day irrigation & 3 day fish consumption restriction.

Pond Talk: Have you battled Chara or Naiad in your pond? How did you treat it?

Do Cattails actually die in the winter or can I do something to prevent them from coming back? | Pond & Lake Q&A

Do Cattails actually die in the winter or can I do something to prevent them from coming back?

Do Cattails actually die in the winter or can I do something to prevent them from coming back?

Brian – Holland, MI

As grandfather used to say, “never trust a sleeping cattail.” Actually, grandfather never said that. But he should have – because it’s true.

During the winter months, cattail foliage dies off. Leaves and stems turn brown and dry up when the weather gets cold, and optimistic pond keepers dare to imagine their backyard water features without the scourge of unwanted cattails. But deep beneath the pond, cattail roots are alive and well in their dormant state, saving up their energy to come back strong in the spring.

Fortunately, cattails aren’t invincible. Depending on the season, enterprising pond owners can take steps to eliminate cattails, leaving their backyard water features in great shape to host more desirable aquatic plants and fish.

When winter rolls around, and cattails have dried up, it’s worthwhile to cut the dead foliage and remove it. Our Pond Rake and Weed Cutter is specifically designed to make this process quick and easy. While this won’t kill the cattails, it will lay the groundwork for a successful spring offensive.

In spring, summer and fall, when cattail foliage is thriving, it’s time to apply our Shoreline Defense® Aquatic Herbicide. This safe, powerful herbicide is applied directly to all above-water cattail foliage. Once applied, the herbicide attacks and kills the entire plant – including its root system. Once the plant is dead, you’ll want to resume the use of your Pond Rake and Weed Cutter to remove the dead plants and prevent their potential to spread.

While Shoreline Defense® is effective on spring growth, it’s most effective during late summer and fall, when foliage is at its peak.

Pond Talk: Do you clear out dead cattails in the fall to get a jump start on spring maintenance?

Lake Rake  and Weed Cutter

Is there an ideal temperature to treat algae? | Pond & Lake Q&A

Is there an ideal temperature to treat algae?

Is there an ideal temperature to treat algae?

Crystal – New Baltimore, MI

It depends what you mean by the word “treat.” If you’re looking to throw a party in its honor, pretty much any temperature will do – because algae grows all year ‘round, even during the winter months. But if you’re hoping to give it the kind of treatment that makes it feel extremely unwelcome, you’ll see the best results when water temperatures are at 60 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. When water is warmer, algae tends to thrive. Because it’s thriving, it’s feeding – making it much more susceptible to algaecides.

Because very few of our customers express interest in enhancing algae growth, we’ll assume most readers are in the latter category. And if you are, we have a variety of highly effective options to accomplish your objectives. Algae Defense® with Treatment Booster™ PLUS is among our safest, most effective weapons in the battle against algae. Algae Defense® is a fast-acting aquatic algaecide, and it’s highly effective at eliminating a broad spectrum of pond algae. By including Treatment Booster™ PLUS, which breaks down algae’s natural defenses, this combination packs a particularly effective double-whammy, and makes short work of offending algae blooms.

For spot-treatment of algae growth, we also recommend Cutrine®-Plus Granular . Formulated to make quick work of both surface and bottom-forming algae, this safe, powerful algaecide does double-duty by both killing existing algae, and inhibiting its future growth.

While some pond owners prefer to eschew algaecide and rake algae out manually, the raking-only approach requires much more maintenance and attention. Algae are extremely hearty, and raking leaves trace amounts in the pond, allowing for recurrent blooms. For longer-lasting impact, the ideal treatment includes the use of algaecides, followed by cutting with our weed cutter, raking with our Pond & Beach Rake, and follow-up treatment with natural bacteria to break down any remaining muck.

Give your algae the treatment they deserve before temperatures start to fall – and start next season with a leg up on their plans for next year’s invasion.

Pond Talk: What method of treatment have you used to maintain algae?

What is the difference between algae and Chara and how should I treat them? | Pond & Lakes Q&A

What is the difference between algae and Chara and how should I treat them?

What is the difference between algae and Chara and how should I treat them?
Veronica – Savannah, GA

To an entomologist, the differences between a cockroach and a termite may be a subject of profound fascination. However, to a homeowner, they’re both insect problems. If you have them, you sure as heck want to get rid of them – and the sooner the better.

Likewise, when the seasoned water biologist sees filamentous algae floating on the surface of a pond, he can probably identify the strain — Spirogyra, Oscillatoria, Pithophora, Anabaena or perhaps some combination thereof. Just beneath the surface, he might point out the gray-green, cylindrical branches of Chara, another form of algae that is often mistaken for a submerged flowering plant, except it has no flower and no defined root system.

Most of you would probably find this at least mildly interesting, unless, of course, the biologist is talking about your pond. Where he sees variations of filamentous algae, you see ‘pond scum’:what he identifies as Chara, you know as ‘skunkweed’ or ‘muskgrass.’ Suddenly, what it is, matters a whole lot less to you than how to get rid of it.

Well, fortunately, we’ve got some great options for you. One gallon of Algae Defense®, mixed with water and Treatment Booster™ PLUS , can treat up to 8,000 square feet of pond surface. It’s best applied with an pond sprayer. It should come as no surprise that the sooner you address an algae issue with Algae Defense®, the quicker and more effective the results. Algae Defense® is best used to eliminate algae on or just below the surface of your pond. For bottom forming algae, like Chara, we suggest Cutrine®-Plus Granular – 12 pounds can treat 8,700 square feet.

If you find that the algae in your pond has graduated from ‘issue’ to ‘problem,’ you may find that multiple applications of Algae Defense® and Cutrine®-Plus Granular are necessary. Make sure you treat your pond in small sections waiting a week between treatments, and have sufficient aeration when treating during the hot summer months. We also recommend following up treatments with the use of PondLogic® PondClear™ and PondLogic® MuckAway™, which use environmentally friendly bacteria to break down the dead algae.

When it comes to the health of your pond, knowing what goes on is important, but knowing how to deal with it is essential.

Pond Talk: Have you learned any tips or tricks to treating algae in you pond?