Getting Rid Of Pondweed – How To Control Pondweed Plants

Getting Rid Of Pondweed – How To Control Pondweed Plants

By: Jackie Carroll

The name pondweed refers to the 80 or so species of aquatic plants belonging to the genus Potamogenton. They vary in size and appearance so much that it’s hard to describe a typical pondweed. Some are totally submerged under the water, while others are only partly submerged. The plants are an important part of the pond’s ecosystem, and they can be ornamental in the right setting. They serve as a valuable wildlife food as well as an oxygenator that helps keep the pond in balance. When out of control, however, the plants can choke the life out of a pond, and then it’s time take steps in controlling pondweed plants.

How to Control Pondweed

Before you use herbicides, there are a couple of other pondweed control methods that are worth considering. Prevention is the best method of control, so think carefully before you plant. If you decide to plant them, use containers to hold the roots rather than in the mud at the bottom of the pond.

In small ponds, try getting rid of pondweeds by removing them manually. In large ponds, releasing grass carp in the pond will keep the plants under control. Grass carp feed on the tender, submerged parts of the plant. If these methods are impractical for your situation or don’t solve the problem, it’s time to consider managing pondweed in ponds using herbicide.

Where herbicides for lawns and gardens are usually chosen based on the weed you are trying to kill, herbicides for ponds are tailored to the site. Read the label carefully before you choose, paying special attention to precautions, restrictions and intended use. Use the least toxic herbicide to protect the fish and other wildlife in your pond and preserve enough plants to support them. Herbicides containing the active ingredient endothall are a good choice for controlling pondweed.

Once you’ve chosen your herbicide, follow the label instructions exactly. Measure carefully and if you have to use it more than once, wait the recommended period of time before the second application. Never use an herbicide in a pond that isn’t specifically labeled for aquatic use.

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Manual or mechanical pond weed removal is the safest method that you can adopt. To remove the weeds manually from your pond, the depth of water have to be shallow. About 3 to 4 feet depth is ok.

Submerged Pondweed

Although submerged pondweed is beneficial for oxygenation of the water, if present excessively in a pond, they can block the sunlight. Absence of sunlight in the pond decreases the natural food production and also raise a number of problems for fishes. Some common example of submerged pond weeds are Sago

  • Naiad
  • Coontail
  • Curly Leaf Pondweed
  • Hydrilla
  • Milfoil
  • Elodea
  • Tape Grass
  • Chara

Hand Collection in small Pond

Normally submerged pondweeds are very weak and their root system isn’t deep. In fact, some of them doesn’t have any root system at all. You will find that most of them create vines. Therefore, you can easily collect them by hand.

Before you remove them by hand, make sure you have drained the water from your pond. It will make the catching process easier for you. But if you have fish in the pond, don’t drain much water and remove the weed with care as this process can make the water murky.

Use a Rake to Collect Pondweed

As most of the submerged pondweed doesn’t have a strong root system and some of doesn’t have any at all, using a rake you can collect them easily.

Two types of takes are available – rakes with handle and rakes with rope. If water shallow and weed is near the shoreline then a rake with is handle works well.

Recommended pond rakes with handle and float-

  • Midwest Rake Company 86036 Lake Rake with Float
  • Outdoor Water Solutions PSP0212 Heavy Duty Lake and Beach Rake

For deep water and a large pond, you have to use rakes with rope. Again a rake with rope is helpful if you don’t want to get yourself into the water.

Recommended pond rakes with rope-

  • SeaWeedPro Aquatic Weed Rake
  • EasyPro Pond Products Aquatic Weed Rake

Pond rake with handle and rope –

  • The Weed Raker by Jenlis

    Use a Pondweed Cutter

    For submerged weed with a root system, you can use weed razor or pondweed cutter. This is very easy to use tool. All you have to do is to throw it over weed area and pull the rope. When you pull it, the blades will cut the weeds. It is a lightweight tool and hence throwing is very easy.

    After cutting the weeds, you have to collect them with rakes, because, if you don’t collect them, they will rot and damage the pond.

    Our choice for best pond weed cutter-

    • Jenlis Weed Razer
    • Jenlis Weed Razer Express
    • Crystal Blue Lake and Pond Weed Cutter

    Shoreline or Emergent

    Shoreline or emergent pondweeds are the most common problem that pond owners face. Some of the most common shoreline pondweeds are –

    • Water Plantain
    • Common Reed
    • Bulrush
    • Pickerel
    • Cat Tail
    • Yellow Flag Iris

    They have a pretty strong root system and spread easily throughout the shoreline with seeds and other parts. Therefore, the best time to destroy them is spring when they haven’t yet produced seeds. This is why they are difficult to control. If the shoreline is shallow, they grow and spread easily. There are different practices to control them.

    Uproot them with Hand

    Uprooting is most effective for weeds with a small root system. You have to remove the weeds along with their stem and roots.

    You will find some pond weed having Rhizomes, Suckers, and Runners. You have to remove these things also as weed easily grows from these things.

    Once you have collected them, bury them under soil or make compost out of them so that they can’t grow again.

    Cut them with Weeding Sickle

    A sickle is a small handy tool with a curved steel blade and wooden handle. If the shoreline weeds are small in size but the stem and roots are strong, cutting and uprooting them with a sickle can be very effective.

    When you use Sickle, you have to ensure some safety measures. Always wear gloves and jacket to save your hands and body from the sharp leaf of weeds.

    Two types of Sickles are used for weed control. They are cheap and very easy to use for an adult.

    • Sickles with small blades- KNK-MT211 ARS Weeding Sickle – Nejiri Kama
    • Sickles with Long Blades- Zenport K310 Brush Clearing Sickle

    Mow them with Scythe or Grass Whip

    If the weeds around your pond are tall and have created bush, there is a good possibility that snakes and harmful insects are already there. At such a situation, using a scythe or grass whip will be safe as well as cheap.

    For strong weed, Scythes are preferable over Whip.

    Recommended Scythe for cutting shoreline pondweed-

    • Anself Manual Steel Weed Scythe: Comes with two wooden handles and a 4’7” steel snath.

    Again for grass type bushy weeds, using a Grass Whip is easy and effective.

    • Tru Pro Grass Whip: Comes with a 40-inch handle and a reasonable price point.

      Use a String Trimmer

      Normally in the winter, the water level in pond goes down. Therefore, in winter you can use string trimmer for destroying the grass. But the disadvantage of this method is it will only work on yearly grass that propagates with the seed, not on those grows with stem or suckers.

      Burn the Weed with a Garden Weed Burner or Hot Water

      You can use a weed burner for the shoreline pondweed. This method is effective in the dry season.

      Never use kerosene or any other type of oil directly for burning the weeds as it can easily mix with pond water and harm the pond habitat.

      You can also use hot water for killing the weeds if your pond is small. Just pour hot water over weeds and they will be damaged overnight. If necessary, repeat the process.

      Use Aquatic Vegetation Groomer

      AVG or aquatic vegetation groomer is a new versatile way to control pondweed. They work on virtually all type of pondweed. But the only disadvantage is the high initial cost. Therefore, this tool is only recommended if you have a large commercial purpose pond.

      You can use the following for grooming pondweed-

      • Aquatic Weed Cutter System from Weeders Digest.

      You can use it for underwater weed cutting as it comes with a sealed gearbox. It can reach up to 4 feet depth and with a floating system, it can also work over water and shoreline.


      Floating pondweed are of mainly two types depending on their root system. Some weeds have their roots embedded into the soil like

      • Waterlilies
      • Floating Leaf Pondweed
      • Spatterdock

      Their main body remains under the water and only the leaf floats. On the other hand, there are completely floating pondweed with pretty small roots system like

      • Duckweed
      • Watermeal
      • Water Hyacinth
      • Water Lettuce

      The freely floats and moves around the pond.

      Removing Free Floating Pondweed

      Duckweed Removal with Floating Net Credit: Adam Byer Koi

      Use Floating Pipe or Rope or Net for Large Ponds

      For removing small floating pondweed, you can use floating pipes or rope or net that floats in water. It’s a very economical, fast and easy way to remove duckweed, watermeal and water lettuce.

      First, need to surround the floating pondweeds with any of these and slowly compress them in a small area. Then bring them near the shoreline and collect them with a skimmer.

      Don’t ever leave them beside your pond. You should bury them under soil or make compost out of them so that they don’t come back to your pond with rainwater.

      Use a Small Leaf Skimmer Rake for Small Ponds

      If you have a small garden pond, then you can remove floating weeds with a pool leaf skimmer. For easy and fast removal, use a skimmer with a large opening.

      Our recommended Skimmer Rakes-

      • Stargoods Pool Skimmer Net
      • ProTuff Pool Net Leaf Skimmer Rake

        Use a Floating Skimmer for Large Pond

        For a large pond, you can’t use a handled skimmer rake for complete removal of floating pondweed as it can’t reach the middle. But using a floating skimmer you can do this job as it floats on water and comes with rope.

        First, you have to throw it into the pond and pull it to the shore by rope. Then just simply collect the weed by a rake or hand.

        Here is one that we recommend-

        Removing Pondweed with Root Embedded into Soil by Uprooting them

        The best way to get rid of pondweed with root embedded into the soil is to uproot them. Because if you don’t uproot them, they will grow again from the root.

        You can uproot them with hand if the root system isn’t very strong. For strong roots, use a digger. You can also use a pond rake for weakly rooted plants. Before you start, drain water from your pond for easy removal.

        Before using any aquatic weed killers in your pond or lake to control pondweeds or lake weeds, follow these tips to make sure you are using these products correctly and safely.

        • Identify: It is crucial to identify your pond weeds or lake weeds before you begin to treat. Some herbicides only work on certain plants.
        • Check: Make sure the product you use is licensed for use around or in water. Using unapproved chemicals can be very dangerous to swimmers and aquatic life.
        • Follow rules: The instructions and warnings listed on all pesticide labels should be read as the law. Failure to follow these labels is illegal under state and federal laws.
        • Pay Attention: Many aquatic herbicides will break down quickly in water, but there is still usually a suggested wait period before fishing or swimming can take place.
        • Dose properly: The dosing rates are usually listed right on the labels. It may involve some calculations, but it is important to follow the proper rates in order to keep you and your wildlife safe, as well as ensuring your product works well.
        • Apply for optimal results: Timing in the year, temperature of the water, and placement of your application will all play into the success of your treatment. Timing is especially crucial, as weeds are usually perennials and you can apply them before they even begin to cause a problem. Do a bit of research or call your local extension office to find out the best time to apply aquatic herbicides for your specific weeds and area.

        Types of Aquatic Vegetation

        • Submerged vegetation: these are weeds that are rooted, but do not break the surface. This group can include Naiads, elodea, pondweeds, and Eurasian watermilfoil.
        • Emerged vegetation: These plants are rooted but grow above the water. Cattails, bulrushes, and arrowhead fall into this category.
        • Floating vegetation: These plants have leaves or flowers that float on the surface of the water and include waterlilies and watershed.
        • Algae: Algae is a healthy part of pond or lake environments. There are different types of algae, including filamentous and mat algae. See our algae page for more information on controlling algae.

        Pros and Cons of Aquatic Vegetation

        Before you go out and buy an arsenal of herbicides or rent an underwater weed harvester, remember that some vegetation is desired, and is a sign of a healthy aquatic ecosystem. Here is a list of positive and negative things that you should note before doing any aquatic weed management.

        • Aquatic weeds, including algae, provide food for small fish, which in turn gives food to the bigger fish, providing an important piece of the food chain.
        • Larger swaths of algae or flowering plants give shelter and provide habitats to a wide variety of animals, including fish and water foul.
        • A healthy amount of aquatic plants provides abundant oxygen to aquatic life, keeping both plants and animals healthy and water cleaner.
        • Rooted plants help to stabilize the pond or lakeshore and help filter pollution.
        • Some aquatic plants provide an element of aesthetic beauty, like lily pads or cattails, which can add to your outdoor experience.
        • Remember, your goal is management, not eradication!

        • An overabundance of vegetation can make recreational activities, like swimming, boating, or fishing, more difficult or unpleasant and detract from your enjoyment.
        • Sometimes too many weeds cause oxygen depletion, which leads to fish kills and decomposition.
        • Lots of floating or emergent vegetation can cause pockets of still water, creating breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
        • Invasive aquatic weeds can quickly overtake native species and become a problem.
        • When weeds overtake your pond or lake, it can make it very ugly, especially when algae or another small weed covers the entire surface.

        For more infomation on how to apply aquatic herbicides, see our guide on How to Kill Algae and Weeds in Ponds and Lakes.

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        Chemical Application Best Practices

        Anytime you use chemicals treat weeds and algae, please keep in mind the following:

        • Treat your pond in sections. Treat only half the pond's surface at a time. During hot weather or when treating heavy growth, it is important to treat no more than 1/4 of your pond at a time and wait the full 14 days before re-applying. This helps lower the risk of fish loss during hot weather or when treating heavy growth.
        • Once the weeds have browned & died, use a weed cutter & rake to remove as much dead material as possible. This prevents an accumulation of dead plant material and muck.
        • Take a proactive approach to pond management. Use PondClear ™ , MuckAway ™ and Pond Dye to keep your pond looking great. For more information, see our article on the Airmax ® Ecosystem ™

        Drastic solutions

        In the most extreme cases, you might need to drain, dredge, and refill the pond. Years of sedimentation can shrink a pond. So can decades of leaf litter and layer upon layer of dead aquatic vegetation. The muck created by decaying plant matter can result in a cycle of excessive nutrients that can only be solved by removing that muck.

        There are biological tools that can work. Beneficial (and harmless) bacteria can be added to a pond to "eat" the muck. However, products such as MuckAway are expensive and can take months to have any impact, and they may never catch up to decades of accumulated organic debris on the bottom.

        "Adding an aeration system is another viable solution. By oxygenating the entire water column, you help the good bacteria break down the muck where it might not be able to without adequate oxygen," says Swistock. "Diffused aeration is best, but surface aeration from a fountain can work in certain situations, as well."

        Dredging and aerators may seem like an expensive fix, but when you consider all that your pond gives you, that cost is a little less painful. After all, that body of water down the hill from your house isn't just a nice addition to the view. It serves as a bond between you and your family and friends. It's a source of food and a place to relax and get back to nature. Take care of it, and it will take care of you.

        Homemade Weedkillers

        Most commercial weedkillers pose some type of danger to fish. Make one yourself to stop weeds and keep anything that comes into contact with the pond natural and nontoxic. One method is to combine 1 teaspoon of liquid dish detergent with 1 tablespoon of gin, 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and 1 quart of water, and spray the solution on weeds. Another weedkiller is made by combining 1 quart of vinegar with 4 ounces of lemon juice concentrate spray the mixture on weeds. Use vinegar with a 20 percent concentration for the best results.

        Using excessive heat is another way to kill weeds around a pond that is safe for pond fish. Although you could use fire to kill the weeds, fire is a very unsafe way to remove them and can lead to desirable plants dying as well. Instead, use boiling water. Heat enough water to cover the weeds, carry it to the pond area and dump it on the weeds surrounding the pond. It will cause the weeds to die in a few days. Repeat the hot-water application as needed. An option is to use a gas stove to heat water near the pond, though you may not be able to heat as much water at one time as you could indoors on a stove top.

        Melly Parker has been writing since 2007, focusing on health, business, technology and home improvement. She has also worked as a teacher and a bioassay laboratory technician. Parker now serves as a marketing specialist at one of the largest mobile app developers in the world. She holds a Master of Science in English.

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