Cattails (Typha latifolia, T. angustifolia, and T. glauca) can reach between four and nine feet. This plant is a very common sight in ponds and marshes.
If you’re annoyed by all these long cattails in your pond, don’t worry. We’ll provide you with more than one way to get rid of them.
Read on for more information on how to remove cattails from a pond. This article also gives an overview of the positive and negative effects of cattails on your pond.
Are Cattails Bad for Ponds?
With such tall spiky leaves, cattails can totally block the view and take over the entire scene. However, have you ever wondered if cattails can actually be good for your pond?
It’s true that cattails can literally dominate the pond, not giving any chance to other plant species. But we also have to admit that they’re not all bad.
The Advantages of Cattails in a Pond
Here’s how cattails can be good for your pond:
- Cattails are the natural habitat for some minute wildlife.
- The roots of cattails host microorganisms that assist the decomposition of living matter.
- They shelter birds
- Some fish species feed on cattails
- Some small fish and insects find a good hiding place in the cattails.
- Cattails can prevent the pond banks from eroding.
- The long stems of cattails slow the water flow and trap silt and sediment.
How to Control the Growth of Cattails
Given the advantages of cattails, it’s good to have a batch here or there within your pond. The problem is that cattails usually grow out of control, so how to manage that growth?
For starters, you need to decide how far you want to eliminate the cattails. This step helps you choose the right method of reduction or elimination.
7 Ways to Remove Cattails from a Pond
Fortunately, there are several ways to get rid of cattails. You can even combine two or more methods for better results.
Whether you want to reduce the spread of cattails or eliminate them altogether, follow these methods:
1 – Using Pots
Given the benefits of cattails to the ecosystem, there’s a way to keep them in controlled amounts. Simply plant them in pots and place them in your pond as you please.
Cattails would still thrive in pots as long as the level of water doesn’t exceed two feet. However, note that the pots you use should be heavy enough to remain in place.
Pots can prevent the free growth of the rhizomes, but this doesn’t mean eliminating the spread altogether as they can still use seed dispersal for reproduction.
This is why we recommend that you cut off the heads of cattails while still brown to prevent reproduction entirely. Make sure to dispose of those heads properly to avoid further spreading.
This is a simple method that enables you to enjoy the benefits of cattails without facing their aggressive spread.
2 – Hand-pulling
The most basic way to remove cattails from your pond is by hand-pulling. This step is much easier when the plant is still young. Therefore, it’s best to pull cattails as soon as they appear in your pond.
Moreover, hand-pulling requires too much work. We recommend that you do it if the problem isn’t very severe.
It’s simple! Here’s what to do:
- Hold the plant from its base.
- Wrap your fingers around the roots.
- Slowly pull the cattail with its root.
- Throw it on the shore.
- You can either dispose of the pulled cattails or leave them to compost with wood chips and other compost material.
3 – Mowing or Cutting
If you opt for this method, you should be mindful of the timing. Interestingly, cutting cattails at the wrong time may stimulate further growth. For that matter, wait until the late summer to do it.
In fact, if you mow or cut the cattails close to the water line more than once in the same season, they would hardly show up again the following year. This is simply because cutting the stem deprives the roots of their food source.
We recommend using a gas weed or hedge trimmer, shears, or any other sharp manual tool. This is mainly because it can be dangerous to use electric tools near water.
Here’s how to cut your cattails in three simple steps:
- Cut the cattails near the water level.
- Remove the leaf blades.
- Dispose of the cut leaves away from the pond. By the way, you can use them to make canes for mats, chairs, or other pieces of furniture.
4 – Dredging
In case the problem is severe, you can resort to dredging, which is basically removing the cattails together with the soil in which they grow.
However, this can be very disturbing to the pond and its inhabitants. Go for this option only if you want a fast and permanent solution to the problem.
This method increases the depth of the pond, which doesn’t allow the cattails to grow. It’s important, though, that you avoid dredging pond plants, fish, water, or soil.
One other catch here is that an increase in the pond depth creates a drowning hazard, especially for pets and children.
5 – Flooding or Freezing
Here’s where the water control devices in your pond come in handy. They can help you eliminate cattails through flooding or freezing.
Flooding happens when you increase the water level above the entire length of the cattail. This way, the water blocks the plants’ exposure to sunlight, which in turn, causes them to starve and suffocate.
On the other hand, freezing happens by decreasing the water level in the pond. This reduction in water exposes the cattails to the frost in the fall and winter, which partially freezes the roots, and stops them from reproducing.
6 – Changing the Salinity of Water
Research has shown that increasing the salt level in pond water lowers the growth rate of cattails. You can do that by three different methods:
- Put a salt block between the cattails during the spring.
- Use pond salt solutions to increase the salinity of your water. Later, you can remove it when the cattails are gone.
- flood it with natural seawater.
Unfortunately, there’s a major downside to this method. Increasing the salinity of your water affects your freshwater plant and fish species. Therefore, we recommend this method for ponds that don’t contain fish or plants.
7 – Using Chemical Herbicides
If you’re looking for a fast solution to the problem of cattails, go for using chemical herbicides. However, you should only use aquatic herbicides; otherwise, it’s illegal. This means that the herbicide must clearly indicate that it’s used to control cattails.
Apart from the legal liability, using the wrong herbicide may harm pond plants, fish, and users. On the flip side, using the right type of herbicide can be a lot more expensive than the other methods.
It’s important that you don’t cut treated cattails until they turn brown. Cutting it sooner can actually prevent the herbicide from killing the root of the plant, which allows it to regrow.
After performing this task, you should get rid of the dead cattails to avoid regrowth and prevent the herbicide from seeping into the water.
Can You Burn Cattails in a Pond?
It’s definitely possible to burn cattails under certain conditions. You can do it when the water level of your pond is naturally low, which happens during the cold seasons.
It’s ideal to perform the burning in winter for several reasons. For starters, in winter, the cattails aren’t fully grown. In addition, they’re dry enough to facilitate the burning.
Sometimes, states perform prescribed fires to control the spread of invasive species such as cattails among other things.
Cattails can do your pond some good. It can be a safe hiding area for fish and other organisms, in addition to adding some natural charm to the area.
Therefore, you can opt for controlling the spread of cattails or eliminating it altogether. Fortunately, there are many ways to do it, including burning, cutting, freezing, and dredging.
Choose the method that best suits you to restore the beauty of your pond.
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
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