Where do reeds grow?

How to Get Rid of Cattails in Garden Ponds Naturally 2020

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Cattails have some benefits in ponds and lakes, but they reproduce quickly and leave behind a lot of waste.

Cattails belong to the genus Typha, which consists of approximately 30 species worldwide, all of which are classified as semi-aquatic flowering plants that typically thrive in marshes and the edges of lakes and ponds. These plants can spread quickly, able to reproduce by dispersing seeds via wind as well as growing from a shared rhizome, or underground stem that is similar to a root.

In some cases, what appears to be hundreds of cattails may actually only be a handful of individuals sprouting from the same rhizome or group of rhizomes. This means that cattails are able to very easily colonize wetland areas, outcompeting many other vegetative species early on. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as cattails provide valuable habitat, food, and nesting areas for wildlife and have been found to help naturally remove pollutants from water.

What are the Most Common Cattail Species?

Only 2 cattail species and native to America, and not all species are native to all regions which can cause issues as they spread.

Three Typha species are commonly found in North America – the broadleaf cattail (Typhus latifolia), narrowleaf cattail (Typhus angustifolia), and southern cattail (Typhus domingensis) – but the National Park Service states that only the broadleaf and southern cattails are deemed native. The narrowleaf cattail has become a significant and challenging issue in the Midwest region, particularly within the Great Lakes Basin region of Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin. It is not yet known just how it came to North America, though scientists suspect it moseyed its way over with European settlers in the 1800s. As with other cattail species, narrowleaf reproduces quickly. Because it is not native to the region, the flora and fauna in these areas has not yet adapted to be able to keep this plant in check or properly compete with it for space and resources, and so it often chokes out the native plant species along the ecologically unique and critical Great Lakes shorelines. This in turn damages wildlife that depend upon those plant species, and has a ripple effect as many wildlife species in the Basin are migratory and travel around North America and other portions of the world.

What About Cattails in Garden Ponds?

In your garden pond, you may (or may not, depending on your particular goals) desire cattails to be present. As mentioned previously, they do provide habitat, shelter, and food for many creatures, including the fish in your pond, birds, insects, turtles, frogs, and so on. They also provide some degree of natural water purification, soaking up lead, excess phosphorous, other nutrients, and biological waste from the critters that have made your pond home. However, cattails multiply easily and quickly, and so you may wish to either eradicate them completely or take actions to control their spread to prevent them from choking out your pond and its inhabitants.

The Best Ways to Remove Cattails in Garden Ponds (5 Natural Methods)

1) Hand Pulling the Cattails

Using gloves to manually remove cattails is probably the simplest method.

To safeguard the health and integrity of your pond ecosystem, natural cattail control methods should be explored first. The most straightforward method is to simply pull them out by hand, ensuring that you pull up the white root-like rhizomes as well. Pull slowly from the base so as to not break the plant, since they can possibly sprout from any intact rhizomes. Depending on how many cattails are present, this may be a slow method, and can stir up the sediment in your pond and cause murkiness that could impact your fish. However, the sediment will settle after a day or two and the cattails can simply be tossed aside and will naturally compost back into the earth. The durable reeds could also be used to make mats or furniture, and historically Native Americans ate the tuberous, nutrient-rich rhizomes by boiling them and mashing them up like potatoes. This method is both one of the easiest and safest methods for removing cattails in smaller garden ponds, but may be too much work in large-scale lakes or natural bodies of water.

2) Cutting the Cattails

Cutting can help stunt the growth of cattails, reducing their ability spread.

Another effective strategy is to cut the cattails below the surface of the water with shears or a gas powered tool like an aquatic weed whacker or hedge trimmer, as the water will act to slow photosynthesis and growth by filtering some of the sunlight and reducing oxygen availability. When using this method, make sure to cut in mid to late summer (July or later), as cutting them in May will actually stimulate their growth since they are already allocating most of their energy to spring growth and will simply resprout. Repeat this cutting two or three times, and each year you should see markedly fewer cattails returning. If you have a large number of cattails or they continue to grow faster than you can cut them, we recommend a mix of both pulling (as above) and cutting to reduce their spread. If you simply want to remove them completely, removing the entirety of the root is always the best solution as cutting will just stunt their growth temporarily.

3) Utilizing Pots to Prevent Growth

Basic pots can be used to restrict the growth of roots, but the heads will still need to be removed annually.

If you wish to have cattails in your pond but control their spread, you could place them in pots and then position them in your pond – they prefer water that is two feet or less in depth. Ceramic or clay pots work well, but will need to be heavy enough to stay put underwater. The pots will prevent the spread of their rhizomes, though the plants will still reproduce via seed dispersal. Simply cutting off the heads of the cattails before they go to seed (while the heads are still brown) will thwart this. You will have to throw away the heads to prevent the seeds from persisting in the ground, as cattail seeds can remain dormant and viable in the soil for as long as 100 years. With enough annual and persistent cutting of the heads of cattails, along with having them in restricted pots, you should notice much less aggressive spread from year to year.

4) Altering Salinity (Salt Levels)

Adding salt to water will eventually kill cattails, but is not recommended in ponds with fish!

Fish and Wildlife Service and Department of Natural Resources conducted various studies that found a salinity of 10 parts per thousand during the growing season is enough to kill cattails. With this in mind, you could increase the salinity of your pond by simply placing a salt block directly within the mass of cattails in the spring, or using pond salt solutions, and then removing it once the cattails have died. If you live near a natural saltwater source you could also attempt to flood seawater into your pond or lake.

The obvious downside of this method is that your pond likely contains freshwater fish and plant species, and as such, they will not be tolerant of significant salinity increases. This method is only recommended for ponds and lakes without freshwater fish or significant freshwater plant coverage, as the heightened salt levels will likely kill most species.

5) Freezing and Dredging Cattails

Freezing cattails in winter, removing roots, and draining the pond water is an affective removal method.

In the event that your cattail population is too extensive for the above methods, you could either completely drain your pond and allow it to freeze over the winter, which will kill the rhizomes, or dredge up the soil to fully remove any rhizomes and slumbering seeds. However, both of these approaches would require you to move your fish and other pond inhabitants indoors or to a different pond, or fully restock your pond the following spring. If you only have a small number of koi, or smaller goldfish, a stock tank can be used to house fish over winter (with proper filtration added) while the main pond system freezes over and dries out during the winter season. Fish can then be added back in Spring after you have re-filled the pond with fresh water and started up the equipment again.

If you have a very heavily stocked pond, you can instead attempt to drain the water down to the level of the cattails, and then manually dig them from the embankments. This still has the problem of leaving seeds in the soil, and will also cause a huge amount of mess in the pond, so fish should still ideally be moved to a holding environment regardless.

I Have Too Many Cattails – What About Chemical Solutions?

Reward – A landscape and aquatic herbicide.

If none of the above methods work, there are also comerically available chemical options for cattail removal. Common aquatic herbicides include Rodeo, Aquapro, and Reward. These are designed for large-scale use in lakes, and we do not reccomend them for smaller garden ponds!

Reward is a contact herbicide that must be sprayed directly on the plant and is listed as being quite potent, killing all plant cells that it comes in contact with. Aquapro and Rodeo are both liquid glyphosate herbicides that are systemic, meaning that they are absorbed into the plant and work their way through every part of it, including the roots. Systemic herbicides act more slowly than contact herbicides, but are more effective as they impact the plant’s entire system and will thus kill the whole plant, rhizomes and all. In any case, make certain that you are using herbicide that is listed as aquatic, as these are designed specifically for aquatic plants. In many areas, it is illegal to use non-aquatic herbicides in aquatic environments, and in others you may need to obtain a permit from an agency such as the Department of Environmental Quality to apply the herbicide. Regardless, always do your research before utilizing chemicals!

Will Aquatic Herbicides Kill My Fish & Plants?

As you might suspect, any chemical designed to kill something has the potential to adversely impact other organisms as well. This could include directly killing both plants and animals, causing sterility and birth defects in animals, making them sluggish and sick, damaging other plants, bioaccumulation in your pond’s inhabitants and other wildlife that visit your pond (which then travel to other areas and may be consumed by predators, leading to further bioaccumulation), and even leeching into the surrounding soil and water table if your pond is not lined. In addition, cattails that die will need to be manually removed from the pond. If left, the process of decomposition will lead to excess nutrients in your pond and deplete oxygen, which in turn may harm your fish and fuel algal growth.

Due to this, for use in garden ponds, we feel aquatic herbicides should always be a last resort – especially if you have fish! If your pond isn’t lake-sized, you should be able to control cattail growth sufficently with the natural methods outlined above in this article, without harm to fish, plants, or wildlife.

Phragmites Control: Easily Kill Phragmites in your Pond or Lake

Phragmites, also known as the common reed, is a large perennial grass typically found in temperate and tropical regions. Phragmites were at one point considered an invasive and exotic species in North America, however, recent evidence has shown that the plants are actually native.

Phragmites can sometimes be difficult to control. We recommend first trying our Phragmite Control Products and spray these directly onto the plants. The Glyphosate 5.4 herbicide is absorbed into the plants and kills the roots. Other methods for Phragmites control include mowing, disking, dredging, flooding, draining, burning, and grazing, but this can sometimes make the problem even worse, as the Phragmite roots are often left intact.

The most successful Phragmites control treatments to date have centered around the application of an aquatic herbicide followed by burning of the roots and stalks to prevent regrowth, which can lead to noticeable improvement in pond conditions for indigenous species and migratory birds.
It should be noted that this often does not eliminate phragmites forever; further re-treatment is often required in ensuing years.

How to get Rid of Phragmites in Ponds & Lakes 2020 (Top Methods)

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Phragmites australis, also known as the common reed, can quickly become an invasive species in both ponds and lakes.

Phragmites (Phragmites australis), also known as the common reed, is a species of subaquatic grass that can be found in North America and Europe. While there is a rare variety that is native to portions of the U.S. and Canada, a non-native, highly invasive variety arrived unintentionally from Europe sometime in the early 1900s via ships. In addition, up until a couple of decades ago, both the public and agencies such as the Department of Natural Resources were planting phragmites for ornamental purposes as well as to provide wildlife cover during habitat restoration projects. Now that its negative impacts are better understood, the opposite is true and massive efforts are being undertaken across much of the country to eradicate the species.

This invasive species grows in dense (more than 100 shoots per square meter!), 15 foot tall stands that choke out other vegetation, capable of forming thick underground rhizome mats at a rate of approximately 30 feet per year. Found by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to notably diminish native flora and fauna populations, this grass is a substantial fire threat as masses of it die and dry up each autumn, and also creates an impenetrable mass that fish, waterfowl, beavers, and even deer cannot move through. Throughout much of the United States, phragmites has taken over wetlands, posing an acute threat to these vital and already-struggling ecosystems.

Similar to cattails, phragmites are able to reproductive extremely fast through the rapid dispersal of seeds.

Much like cattails, the speedy establishment and spread of invasive phragmites can be attributed to seed dispersal by wind and animals as well as sprouting from a shared rhizome or small group of rhizomes underground. Each rhizome is capable of propagating dozens to hundreds of new plants. Young phragmites can also reproduce quickly by sprouting stolons aboveground. Phragmites typically prefers still or slow-moving water, and as such are of particular concern in lakes, wetlands, and ponds, including your personal backyard pond. As you may imagine, this species is difficult to control once established, but there are steps that you can take to remove it and prevent further spread.

The Best Natural Ways to Control Phragmites (No Chemicals)

1) Cutting Phragmites

Cutting phragmites using heavy duty shears, scissors, or a weed whacker can help reduce smaller populations.

This method has mixed results, as it may not always completely wipe out the population if the rhizomes don’t die off. You can conduct this method by hand (though this may be a tedious approach if you have a prominent phragmites population), cutting at or just above ground level using scissors, shears, or a weeding sickle. You can also cut using a brush cutter or weed whacker, but this should be done several inches above the ground to reduce the likelihood of damaging small mammals or native vegetation. Ensure that you are cutting below the meristem, as cutting above it will only promote growth (this is why mowing your lawn can sometimes result in rapid grass regrowth). You can greatly minimize the chances of this occurring by cutting in late fall or after the ground has frozen, as the plant will not be able to grow and is more likely to die off. You’ll also have to be very thorough in cleaning equipment and clothing after, else you may unintentionally spread rhizomes and seeds to new areas.

2) Pulling Phragmites

An aquatic rake designed for lakes and ponds can be used to make pulling phragmites easier.

Hand pulling phragmites is another approach, though it is considered difficult since they typically have extensive rhizome systems belowground. If you don’t pull up all of the rhizomes, the plant will simply resprout. You can utilize an aquatic rake to help pull them up, but be aware that doing so may simply break the rhizomes rather than removing all of them and, again, the phragmites will just regenerate (are you beginning to get an idea of why this plant is so tricky to manage?). Again, be sure to clean off any equipment and clothing afterwards to ensure no seeds can be transported to other areas where they can begin to spread.

3) Burning Phragmites (Permit Required)

Prescribed burns are an effective method of killing phragmites, but you may need to apply for a burn permit.

Generally an effective method when used in conjunction with herbicide, burning will not only destroy the portion of the grass that is aboveground, but will also heat up the soils and dry out the rhizomes and any dormant seeds, killing them as well. Prescribed burns are now recognized as ecologically essential in a variety of ecosystems, as burning historically occurred naturally and helped ecosystems remain healthy and diverse without any one species outcompeting the rest. Fire is often viewed as negative, and as such has been unnaturally suppressed by humans for many decades. This has led to invasive species such as phragmites being able to spread with little resistance, increased fire severity when fires do actually occur (California, for example), and inhibits fire-dependent species like oak and sequoias from regenerating. However, because this method is obviously dangerous, you will either need to obtain a burn permit from the Department of Environmental Quality, or contact a land management agency such as the Forest Service, DNR, or Fish and Wildlife Service to see if they can help you out (because phragmites is such an issue, they likely would if possible). Burning will also need to be repeated for several years to ensure that phragmites is fully eliminated from the area, and is typically conducted during winter when soil moisture levels are the lowest (this safeguards that the rhizomes will also be killed off). Keep in mind that burning could also impact your pond’s residents; they may need to be relocated while the burn is occurring if they are not tolerant of water temperature increases.

The Most Effective Chemical Methods to Remove Phragmites (Best Herbicides)

If you’re dealing with large amounts of phragmites, often a mix of manual and chemical methods if the most effective for removal.

Though natural approaches are preferable and less harmful to other organisms, in the case of phragmites they are unfortunately not always the most effective and can sometimes make the issue worse. Manual removal methods prove the most successful and efficient in smaller water bodies, such as garden ponds, though when used carefully and appropriately, chemicals have demonstrated the greatest success overall with phragmites control and extermination. As mentioned in previous articles, any chemical that is designed to kill something will have adverse impacts on other things as well and should be used with great care. This risk decreases somewhat as the size of the water body increases, and so chemical approaches are typically better suited to lakes. You will also likely need a license to apply most chemicals, or you may need a professional to treat the area (you could hire someone or, again, a registered environmental agency like those listed earlier may be able to help).

There are two herbicides that are currently approved for use on phragmites: glyphosate and imazapyr. Be aware that both of these chemicals will kill or at least damage any other plant that they come in contact with, so be precise when applying them and pay close attention to all instructions and regulations listed on their labels. To maximize your shot at defeating (or at least reducing) phragmites, try using cutting methods about two weeks after herbicide treatment. The herbicide will by then have had enough time to work its way through the plant, and will prevent the cutting from inadvertently stimulating further growth. More information on these herbicides can be found below:-

1) Glyphosate

Glyphosate can be used by landowners on their own property without a special license, though you will need to be certain that you are only using the form that is approved for wetlands. Popular and effective glyphosate products include Rodeo, Aquamaster, and Aquaneat. Regardless of the product you choose, again make quite sure that they are listed as an aquatic herbicide (it will say on the label), as it is illegal to use non-aquatic herbicides in aquatic ecosystems, including your own ornamental pond or lake. Glyphosate is easy to obtain and cheaper than imazapyr (below), though not as effective because it does not persist in the soil. The perk of that is a reduction in the potential for adverse impacts on other plants, fish, soil invertebrates, and so on.

2) Imazapyr (Licensed Use Only)

Imazapyr has greater success with killing off phragmites, but persists in the soil and as such is prone to killing off native plants in the area as well. Because of this, it is recommended that imazapyr be used only when phragmites are well-established, extensive, or cannot be removed using alternate methods. The only wetland-approved form of imazapyr is Habitat, and because of its volatile nature is only allowed to be applied by a certified or licensed aquatic pest control applicator. According to the label, it also cannot be used within a half mile upstream of a freshwater source that is used for food or water consumption. You also shouldn’t plant anything until a year after treatment, as imazapyr may still be present in the soil and could be taken up by the plants.

Phragmites Australis

Invasive Species Control and Management

Phragmites australis, known as Phragmites or common reed, is a non-native, invasive plant that dominates the land by out-competing surrounding native vegetation. The spread of invasive species is often the result of human activity but can also spread by wildlife. Management can be extremely difficult without the experience and guidance from a professional. When it comes to Phragmites, an integrated management strategy that incorporates herbicide applications and mechanical techniques is recommended to effectively gain control of Phragmites and restore the native habitat.

Controlling Phragmites is a multi-year endeavor that has an outcome of 95% reduction with the re-establishment of native plants. In order to gain control of these pesky invaders, four management steps are recommended for golf courses, homeowners associations, municipalities and other affected communities.

  1. Assessment of the Infestation
    By evaluating the extent of growth, native plant assemblage and general terrain, a treatment plan can be devised to best meet the needs of the native environment. Also be sure to consult with a wetland management professional about preparing necessary permit applications, where required.
  2. Herbicide Application
    Herbicide treatments, often the most effective means of achieving long-term eradication, should be area-specific based off your property’s unique characteristics. Low-ground pressure vehicles are often used by professionals to access the remote and sensitive areas of a wetland. While treatment during the fall is often preferred and most effective, treatment can be performed from mid-to-late June through October
  3. Physical Removal
    Mechanical removal techniques are often used in conjunction with herbicide treatments. Removal of the dead stalks can be accomplished by cutting, burning and hand-pulling.
  4. Prevention and Protection
    Ongoing monitoring is an important component to an effective invasive species management program. Regularly inspections allow invasions to be caught before they spread, saving you the expense of another full-scale treatment in the years to come.

Despite advanced technology and equipment, controlling invasive species takes time. A successful Phragmites control plan can take up to five years of annual management. The single most important step of an ongoing management program is prevention. Having your site inspected regularly will allow nuisance species to be identified early on, giving your wetland management professional the opportunity to eliminate them before they spread.

Contact the experts at 888-480-LAKE (5253) for all of your lake, pond, wetland and fisheries management needs.

SOLitude Lake Management is a nationwide environmental firm committed to providing full service sustainable solutions that improve water quality, enhance beauty, preserve natural resources and reduce our environmental footprint. SOLitude’s team of aquatic resource management professionals specializes in the development and execution of customized lake, pond, wetland and fisheries management programs that include water quality testing and restoration, nutrient remediation, algae and aquatic weed control, installation and maintenance of fountains and aeration systems, bathymetry, mechanical harvesting and hydro-raking, lake vegetation studies, biological assessments, habitat evaluations, and invasive species management. Services and educational resources are available to clients nationwide, including homeowners associations, multi-family and apartment communities, golf courses, commercial developments, ranches, private landowners, reservoirs, recreational and public lakes, municipalities, drinking water authorities, parks, and state and federal agencies. Learn more about SOLitude Lake Management and purchase products at www.solitudelakemanagement.com.

The ultimate guide to tackling rushes on your farm

Q. Why have rushes become a problem on many farms in recent years?

A. The global warming/wetting weather of recent years and the resultant poaching has left many swards open to invasion by rushes. Although associated with wet soils and poached areas, clumps of rushes are now a common sight in pasture fields in drier areas.

Q. How come rushes are so hard to control?

A. Soft Rush, the most common type of rush, is characterised by an erect mode of growth with no leaves and a very tough outer skin, making it difficult to control with herbicides. Also, the plant is deep rooted with large root reserves of food.

Q. What’s the best way of limiting rushes in grassland?

A. Seeds from rushes only germinate if conditions are favourable, maintaining a fertile, dense, leafy grass sward is the best method to prevent rushes establishing and spreading. Encouraging grass growth will, in turn, reduce the existence of rushes. Having a fertile soil with adequate levels of Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium along with a suitable pH for grass growth is critical. Avoid any poaching, overgrazing or damage to grass swards.

Q. What other grassland management practices will limit rushes infestation?

A. Frequent topping, timely fertilisation, application of lime along with good drainage will all help limit rushes spread.

Q. What’s the best method of chemical control?

A. Whether you are licking or spraying, topping 3 weeks in advance of spraying is advised to promote fresh green re-growth capable of taking in the herbicide. This also helps weaken the food reserves within the plant. Remove any mown rushes before spraying. Soft rush can be controlled with MCPA or 2, 4-D applied in June or July when growth conditions are good. A wetting agent can improve the spray sticking to the slender rush ‘target’. These sprays will stunt grass growth and damage/kill White Clover.

Q. I’m in the GLAS Scheme, with some fields/parcels as Low Input Permanent Pasture – there is a lot of rushes coming up, what’s the best control method?

A. Spraying of rushes is not permitted on land parcels on farms participating in the GLAS Scheme who have chosen to undertake the Low Input Permanent Pasture or the Traditional Hay Meadow option in this Scheme. Boom spraying with herbicides will damage the grassland plant species present in the sward. This could result in a penalty under Cross Compliance. Spraying is not permitted in any SAC areas. Rushes can be controlled by topping after the 15 July. Consult your GLAS Planner if considering any control of Rushes in land parcels involved in the GLAS scheme. Spot treatment is permitted in these GLAS areas.

Q. There has been a lot of poor publicity about MCPA recently, with the Environmental Protection Agency threatening to take it off the market, why is this?

A. In recent months, high levels of MCPA have been found in some drinking water sources (drinking water sources can be groundwater or surface water). MCPA is very soluble so it can travel easily in waterlogged areas or water bodies. MCPA levels are based on EU monitoring levels. Water will always find water. When using this herbicide, follow manufacturer’s instructions and recommended rates carefully. Suggested tips if applying MCPA include:

Don’t apply if the soil is water logged

Don’t apply unless the grass and rushes are dry

Don’t apply if rain is forecast

Avoid windy days where spray drift could spread into watercourses

Keep back an adequate buffer zone distance from watercourses and water bodies

Q. What are buffer zones and how do they apply to MCPA?

A. When spraying ruses with a boom sprayer you cannot spray within 5m of any water bodies or dry drains.

Q. Are there general precautions for using herbicides to control rushes?

A. Read the product label carefully and follow recommended rates. Spray in the cool of evening or early morning to avoid scorching of grass. Avoid grazing sprayed areas for 10 days post spraying. Triple rinse the empty container and put the washings into the sprayer and spray this onto grassland.

Anthony O’Connor is a Teagasc Adviser, Galway/Clare Regional Unit

Online Editors

Dealing with the scourge of rushes in grassland

Many farmers across the country are fighting an on-going battle against what many would refer to the ‘scourge of rushes’.

On top of this many farmers are now also finding that rushes growing in fields where they never were before as a result of increasingly wet winters.

The soft rush is the most common type of rush in Ireland. Rushes can produce up to 8,500 seeds per fertile shoot every year.

However, they only germinate if conditions are favourable and allow them to do so.

What conditions do rushes thrive in?

Rushes were traditionally a problem on wetter soils, but according to Teagasc are now an everyday sight in drier areas due to poor soil fertility.

It says rushes establish and thrive where grass growth is being limited by some aspect of soil fertility or management.

Low pH would not seem to directly favour rushes but it will hinder grass growth by decreasing nutrient availability.

How to control rushes?

This should be a combination of improving drainage, grazing management, fertiliser application, topping and chemical control.

Encourage grass growth

Maintaining a dense, leafy grass sward will smother out emerging rushes. In this regard, having a fertile soil with adequate levels of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium along with a suitable pH for grass growth is hugely important.

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Avoid any poaching, overgrazing or damage to grass swards.

Fertiliser should only be spread in conjunction with grazing and topping to promote grass growth and restrict the growth of rushes.

Chemical Control

The key first step to treating all rushes is the topping/mowing of mature rushes.

Whether you are licking or spraying, topping is advised to promote fresh green re-growth capable of taking in the herbicide. This also helps weaken the food reserves within the plant.

Teagasc says products such as Agroxone 50, Mortone, MCPA 50, Croplink 50 at the correct rate will control rushes but will stunt grass growth.

These herbicides will check white clover and kill red clover.

Using a weed licker Roundup products or Buggy SG is very effective. Take care not to damage grass plants by soaking the carpet on the weed licker too much. Using a sticking agent with these products is suggested.

Avoid spraying in very warm weather as scorching of grass may occur – spray in the cool of the evenings or early mornings.

GARDENING WITH GARETH: WHAT TO DO ABOUT RUSHES?

GARDENING WITH GARETH: What to do about rushes? I bet you have a great lawn, a lawn thick and full of grass, with not a weed in sight?? No, me neither.

I embrace my clover, it’s a wonderful ‘weed’ to have in the garden after all the bees love it and when it dies off in patches every winter or so it feeds the grass nearby.

I love clover but I’m not a big fan of rushes, now I’ve none in my small urban lawn, but when I drive around I see a lot, both in lawns and in many surrounding fields.

There is great movement going on with cutting rushes in fields since the changes in the payments made to farmers, with payments being reduced for fields which were un-grazColumneable due to the density of rushes, so you may have noticed fields near to you being cut and mulched that were never cut for years.

In the home lawn rushes coming through are a sign that all is not well. Lawn grass needs adequate drainage, adequate aeration, adequate pH and adequate fertility, and if you lack in any of these department rushes are the inevitable consequence.

Sprays for rushes from the co-op are common place, but spraying to kill them off is just like painting over a damp wall, you’ve not sorted the problem you’ve just temporarily removed it. It is better to consider a more stepped approach:

Drainage.

Does your garden hold too much water? Does it sit saturated? Does it sit ringing-wet in the winter months? If so then you need to consider installing new drains to the lawn, or to check your existing pipes aren’t blocked by Iron/Silt or whatever.
Compaction.

Is your lawn area compacted? Do small puddles form on the surface after heavy rain? Is there lots of creeping buttercup? If so the lack of air entering the soil and the prevention of the water from travelling downwards in your lawn into your drainage system will have a negative effect on your grass growth and encourage conditions favoured by rushes. So time to aerate the lawn and work in some coarse sand.
Soil pH.

Grass grows where there is access to calcium, a pH which is low reduces the availability of this important mineral. Existing soil can be acidic – ie a peaty soil or it can be acidified (or soured) over time by rain and the application of fertilisers.

The management of pH in the 6.5-7 bracket will grow good grass, so the application of Garden Lime every few years will be immensely beneficial to your soil, raising the PH (sweetening soil).

Availability of Phosphorus and Potassium in the Soil. These two major nutrients are vital for good grass quality, but are rarely added to lawns, we concentrate too much on lashing Nitrogen on – in turn this application of Nitrogen acidifies the soil.

These nutrients can be applied in fertiliser form, just ask at your local garden centre for a balanced fertiliser.
Cutting.

Lawns like to be cut, rushes don’t. You may find rushes appear in the winter months but when you start cutting then the rushes reduce in volume. It is important that you cut your lawn regularly, and at a nice even height. Cutting too short or scalping the lawn only weakens the grass.

You may not have to correct everything mentioned above to remove the rushes from your lawn, you may just have to amend a few parts of your management but definitely give these areas a bit of attention and you’ll not have to reach for the chemicals as quickly!

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Does your backyard fill up with water every time it rains? Then you probably have a drainage problem.

If you have a yard drainage problem, you’ve no doubt noticed the following problems:

  • You have more mosquitoes in your yard
  • Lawn grass doesn’t grow well in the area where ponding occurs
  • Water-loving weeds, such as nutsedge, grow in abundance in that wet area
  • You’ve noticed your property’s ponding getting worse every year
  • You may have flooding in your basement because of poor yard drainage.

How to Fix Poor Yard Drainage

If those issues sound familiar, it’s time to find out how you can fix water drainage problems in your yard. Fortunately, there are many options for correcting a ponding yard. If you’re a DIY’er, you can fix your yard drainage problem with these seven ideas:

  1. Clean out your gutters every spring and fall. If it’s been a while since you checked your gutters, now is a good time.

Clogged gutters come from twigs, leaves, and debris forming a dam causing water to back up. You may notice a flood pouring from your blocked rainspouts.

  1. Add a French drain so water can drain away from your home or from the low-lying area of your property.

You’ll need to dig trenches and put in piping to move the water toward the French drain. You can learn more about French drains in this video.

Watch how well a Brinly lawn sweeper with dethatcher cleans up your property.

  1. Extend your water downspouts, so water goes to a rain garden, into a catchment basin or into a garden area for extra moisture.
  1. Improve your landscaping as well as repair your drainage problem by creating a rain garden. If your extended rain spouts go out to a rain garden, you can include these water-loving plants:
  • Sedges (Carex)
  • Bluestar (Amsonia)
  • Turtlehead (Chelone).
  • Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
  • Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida)
  • Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnate)
  • Swamp mallow (Hisbiscus moscheutos)
  • Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium)

Expect to see all kinds of wildlife visiting your rain garden, from butterflies and dragonflies to hummingbirds and ducks!

Read this blog post to see why you need a lawn sweeper for your fall yard clean-up jobs.

  1. Build a dry creek bed into your landscaping. If you want to move water away from your home and low-lying yard, you can add a dry creek bed to your landscape design.

Again, you can add native plants including flowers, trees, and shrubs as well as native rock and stone to your creek bed. You want to place native stones and rocks to show movement in your creek bed when there is no water in it.

You’ll need water-loving plants that won’t die when they get a deluge of water. The same plants in number four work perfectly for a dry riverbed. You can also add the following:

  • Ferns (Filicophyta) that come in many varieties to add softness
  • Hostas (Funkia) of all shapes and sizes
  • Ornamental ivies (‎Araliaceous) and other ground covers
  • Various small trees and shrubs.
  1. Install a catch basin. A catch basin is larger than a French drain. It has a 6” drain, and the basin sits right underneath the soil line. You can position your extended rainspouts to head toward the catch basin to disperse excess water.
  1. Build a swale. A swale sits either in-between two sloped areas or at the bottom of a slope on your property.

You can build a concrete swale or water-tolerant lawn grass at the bottom of the hill. Swales collect extra water and slowly drain it into the ground or into a French drain.

Tools to Help You Get Rid of a Swampy Yard

At Brinly-Hardy, we build lawn care and garden attachments that make your job as a property owner easy. Our products are made to last and help you get the job done quickly.

For installing trenches and other ways to channel excess water from your yard, we recommend the following lawn care attachments:

  • Our tow-behind carts to carry shovels, piping, rocks, plants, and any other material to your worksite.
  • If you’re having grading work done, our lawn rollers can smooth out the soil after it’s graded.
  • For your other lawn care and landscape jobs, visit our website to purchase a lawn care or garden attachment for all of your outdoor projects.

You’ll find our Brinly products at these fine retailers. If you have any questions about our products, contact customer service at 877-728-8224 or fill out our contact form.

Additional Sources:

FamilyHandyman.com, “How to Achieve Better Yard Drainage.”

WetLawn.com, “4 Steps for Dealing with a Swampy Backyard.”

By Ben Hepler, Community Educator

As I was looking out at my pasture behind the barn I thought to myself, “boy it would be nice to do a better job of controlling buttercup, swamp grass, and yellow nutsedge”. The pasture lays nice but in my area, often the flat field at the base of the hill slope is also the somewhat poorly drained field. The vegetation that I call swamp grass is actually slender rush here in the northeast. In this article we will cover how these plants spread, their habitat preference, how to identify them, and how to control them.

I am an aspiring grazier and I have been going to grazing conferences since I was in 8th grade. Believe me, the teachers had a field day when I would tell them I was going to a grass conference. So I try to maximize the pasture’s ability to produce quality forage the best I can with the time and funds I have at my disposal. However, even the best laid plans fall short sometimes and I find buttercup, slender rush and yellow nutsedge sneaking their way in. They creep in over the years with their spreading rhizomes and seed. They call home in seasonally wet areas, high traffic spots, and areas that have been selectively grazed from time to time without action taken to keep the grasses and legumes competitive against unpalatable forbs. To identify, they say sedges have edges, rushes are round, but grasses have knees. The take away here is that rushes have continuous round stems with a hollow pith or center, sedge stems are angular and almost triangular on the flowering stem, and grasses have knees because their stems are round or flat but have joints along them. I have always found that the slender rush looks like a spiked bunch grass and yellow nutsedge has a lighter pale green hue to it than grasses and the plant feels different in terms of texture. Buttercup on the other hand has a distinct leaf and once blooming is very easy to identify.

To control the spread of these sneaky weeds start with making sure your pasture fertility is where it should be to produce high quality grasses and legumes. Once fertility is where it should be move onto eradication. Mowing before flowers form will stop the spread of the plants via seed and slow the spread of the rhizomes because frequent mowing will drain the energy reserves in the root system. You could try increased animal pressure in a rotational grazing system. I have seen my cows eat these three weeds when very young. Mechanical tillage and replanting might work in areas that can take machinery later in the year when things dry up. Artificially lowing the water table with drainage tile could also help improve the competitiveness of your grasses and legumes compared to these sneaky weeds. Finally, you could use herbicides to combat these weeds. One of the options would be to spray-kill the pasture and no-till in your new pasture mix. The other option could be to use a herbicide such as Permit or Yukon. These herbicides kill broadleaf weeds which includes buttercup, sedges and rushes. Permit and Yukon have also had hay and pasture applications added to their labels with no risk to lactating or non-lactating cattle. However, be sure to read the labels on the herbicide to properly apply it if you have a license or have a professional do it. Though these weeds aren’t as obnoxious as thistle or multifloral rose, once established they have the potential to limit the productivity of your pastures and can be hard to eradicate because of their growth habit and preferred habitat. Happy Grazing! and remember to concentrate on pastures that are vital to your operation first then branch out.

Oh! one last fun fact for the craft person in your life, if you want to try and make a few extra dollars from slender rush you could try making and selling rush candle sets to homesteaders, off the grid folks, or living history museums.

Yellow Nutsedge

Slender Rush in a Pasture

Meadow Buttercup

Rush Candle with iron stand

Picture citations:

Phragmites australis – Common Reed

Common Reed is a very tall (1 – 3+ metre high) stout perennial grass, often forming extensive beds with its vigorous creeping rootstock. It has wide flat greyish green leaves which turn brown and are shed in winter leaving hard hollow persistent cane like stems: ‘reeds’ which are harvested from managed reedbeds for thatching roofs. Its large feathery flowers are produced later than most grasses (August – October) and can be an impressive sight en masse swaying in the breeze.

Type Seeds per gram Origin Ordering
Grassland Perennial 5000 Norfolk Order this species

Habitat Information

Common Reed is a very widespread common plant of swampy wet ground and fens, and of shallow flooded ditches, rivers, lakes and ponds. Salt tolerant forms are also found in brackish swamps and lagoons. It often forms dense single species stands ‘reedswamp’ particularly on sites which are flooded for most of the year and are supplied with nutrients.

Some natural reedbeds are managed specifically for reeds for the commercial production of thatching material; particularly ‘Norfolk Reed’ from the Broads and coastal wetlands.

Common reed is sometimes planted to create new reedbeds as wildlife habitat and to help protect and stabilise pond and lake shores. It is also planted in filtration reedbed systems for the treatment of waste water.

Growing Information

Common reed germinates readily from seed. A 1g packet of reed seed sown in seed trays can potentially produce thousands of plants for planting out once mature enough.

The establishment and growth of young plants in wet or flooded environments is somewhat precarious. Flooding and salinity both inhibit germination. Drowning will kill seedlings and immature plants.

Whilst some success has been reported sowing reed seed direct on drained and exposed mud in May (for example in the post-war reclamation of Dutch polders), it is usually better to raise plants from seed in a nursery for planting out.

Semi-mature pot grown plants with strong shoots and rhizomes developing give the plants the potential to grow away quickly after planting and withstand flooding and frost damage.

Once established reeds can spread rapidly forming dense stands. Reedbed management for thatch or for wildlife is a big topic. The essential practical points are:

Shallow flooding through most of the year encourages reed development and dominance by suppressing other weeds such as nettles. (Reeds growing in flooded or waterlogged ground have the advantage because they can ‘breath’ by transferring oxygen through their hollow shoots to their roots).

Cutting sections of reedbed on a rotational basis will open up the reedbed creating open edges and areas of different structure and stage of development; this is good for birds and other wildlife using the habitat. The main cutting management of reedbeds usually take place between leaf fall (Nov/Dec) and end of March (before the new shots emerge and wildlife become active, eg. amphibians and grass snakes).

Reed dominance can be reduced by cutting, where fertility is not too high. A summer cut and removal of ‘Marsh hay’ in July can make space forother plant species to grow. Any summer cutting needs to take account of potential disturbance to nesting birds. Cutting back new reed shoots (‘colts’) below water level in spring will have the effect of drowning and restricting new growth (eg to maintain areas of open water).

Reeds can be cut effectively with either machines or a scythe. If cutting by scythe fitting a ‘bow’ to the scythe helps move the cut material to one side.

Availability

For such a productive plant the yield of seed is surprisingly poor and unreliable. It is also quite difficult to harvest and extract its fine seeds from the feathery heads in winter when it ripens. This means that we have only very limited stock availability. We can only offer in small quantities suitable for sowing to raise plants.

Ordering

You can order any quantity of this species from 0.2g up to 10g. Please contact us if you require more.

nb: 1kg = 1000g, 0.1kg = 100g

Prices include p&p to most mainland destinations, more on delivery charges.

Prices

£/1kg

£/100g

£/10g

£47.50

£/1g

£5.00

●Reeds form a natural hiding place for living things
Reeds grow in shallow water close to riverbanks. As the volume of water rises or falls, reeds spread their underground stems on all sides in order not to fall over. Cattails and water oats are found growing in water along with reeds. They also spread their underground stems on all sides. Hiding places for crabs and small fish are numerous among the closely growing reeds and other vegetation and in gaps formed by the underground stems. Birds and mice also use these places for their nests.
●Plants remove dirt from water and produce oxygen
Roots of reeds and other plants remove dirt from the water as nutrition. River water becomes clean and a variety of living things can live easily.
Plants engage in photosynthesis using their leaves and stems. Photosynthesis produces nutrition such as starch using water and carbon dioxide in the air with the help of sunlight. Oxygen is produced at the same time and plants transfer it into the water and air. Most living things need oxygen. Oxygen tends to be lacking in water. Reeds produce oxygen in the areas where they are growing. Living things can live easily in a place where reeds grow.
Dried leaves and stems of plants fall into the water and are resolved by bacteria. Small creatures such as crabs and shellfish eat them.
For these reasons many living things are found in places where reeds grow.

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