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Smart Weed Control for Ponds: Modern Techniques and Tools

Weed control is a key element of maintaining not just an aesthetically pleasing dam, but also a healthy one. It can ensure that your dam can be played in by the kids, used by animals, and even offer a refuge for wildlife in the area.

However, weed control can be difficult. As you may have experienced in your garden, traditional methods of weed control don’t always necessarily work, and aquatic weeds are no different. Thankfully, there is a new area of aquatic weed control that encourages the use of modern techniques and tools to help you get things back under control and avoid excessive aquatic weed growth.

This article will look at what pond weeds are, how traditional aquatic weed control may have some limitations, and where modern techniques may offer more reprieve from emergent aquatic weeds.

Understanding Pond Weeds and Their Role in Aquatic Ecosystems

Pond weeds, also known as aquatic weeds, submerged aquatic vegetation, aquatic plants, and submerged plants, are plants that grow in and around the edges of bodies of fresh water. Contrary to their reputation, pond weeds can have lots of benefits to the health of the water, provided they do not grow in excess.

Aquatic weeds help to maintain adequate oxygen levels in the water by releasing oxygen as a by-product of photosynthesis. Oxygen depletion can be detrimental to much of the wildlife in an aquatic ecosystem.

Submerged weeds can also act as a habitat or shelter for a range of wildlife that reside within your dam. Floating weeds may provide protection from the sun, and other aquatic organisms may live within the stems and leaves of pond weeds. In addition, some weed species offer vital food sources to wildlife too.

Filamentous algae and other algae species can sometimes become a problem in dams, but pond weeds can actually help to control algae growth. Aquatic weeds compete with algae for nutrients and sunlight, keeping excessive growth of algae to a minimum and helping you avoid algal blooms. On top of this, algae thrive in hot temperatures, but the presence of floating weeds can keep the temperature of the water down, further controlling the growth of filamentous algae and other algae species.

Weed species that grow around the edges of the dam and on the bed can help to reduce erosion of the banks and floor, stabilizing sediments and improving water clarity.

When Do Aquatic Weeds Cause Problems?

There are a few cases in which you may experience aquatic weed problems. These include the following.

  • Oxygen depletion: Sometimes, excessive growth of aquatic weeds can lead to reduced oxygen levels, as well as altered pH and nutrient levels.
  • Algal growth: While aquatic weeds can help control excess algae growth, they can also contribute to algal blooms. Algae thrive off of the nutrient-rich environments caused by decomposing plant matter, so when pond weeds die, algae can flourish.
  • Clogged waterways: If you’re using your pond for irrigation, recreation, or navigation, then you may find pond weeds cause problems by clogging your waterways. This means that even if you have a fishing deck on the water, your leisure time may be interrupted by an excessive number of aquatic weeds.
  • Balance disruption: Aquatic weed growth can lead to an imbalance in the ecosystem of your pond, and if emergent aquatic weeds are invasive, they may outcompete native species.

Traditional Weed Control Methods and Their Limitations

Traditionally, to control weeds, people have hand-pulled and removed weeds by force as well as used chemical control, like weed killers and herbicides. However, these methods have limitations that make them less than suitable for long-term success in aquatic weed control.

Below, we’ll explore each method and its limitations to help you get a better idea of what not to do.

Manual Removal

Manually removing aquatic weeds from your dam and its banks seems like a great idea. It gets rid of the weeds completely, and you can move on. However, it does only offer temporary relief. In fact, manual removal tends to leave behind weed seeds, root systems, and other fragments that contribute to regrowth. Additionally, manual removal is labour-intensive, and even when done with a machine, it is costly.

Chemical Control

While chemical herbicides will likely get rid of everything from the weed seeds to the stems, they come with a huge environmental impact. In fact, herbicides tend to kill almost everything, rather than just the target species. This often messes with the delicate balance of the ecosystem and leads to much more damage than the weeds themselves were causing.

On top of this, while chemicals may have more of a lasting impact on aquatic weed control, some species can actually develop a resistance to chemicals and regrow anyway. This makes them harder to kill, meaning you have to use even more chemicals.

There are also compliance issues when it comes to chemical use. For example, if the chemicals you use get into waterways, they can have a damaging effect on human health, which is why many regions control their use.

Biological Control

Some dam owners choose a more natural approach to weed control, which involves the introduction of herbivorous organisms, like grass carp, snails, and insects. These organisms are intended to feed on the weeds and keep them under control. However, issues can arise when introducing non-native species into your dam. They may also be subject to regulatory considerations.

Modern Techniques and Tools for Weed Control

The modern methods of weed control often take elements of traditional methods. For instance, biological control can still be used when organisms are matched with the ecosystems. This can reduce damage caused by non-native species while helping better weed control. Better herbicides are also more common now, which reduce harm to non-target species and the overall environment.

Some other modern approaches include:

  • Biological herbicides: This refers to a combination of naturally occurring enzymes, bacteria, and more microorganisms that compete with the weeds and keep them in check. They act as a counterbalance to the weeds to ensure that the weed growth is kept under control.
  • Drone and remote sensing: Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are used to map and monitor weeds in your dam. This allows for early detection of excessive growth and the targeted use of removal methods.
  • Smart irrigation and water level control: Smart water systems can be installed to regulate water levels and water flow. This prevents weed germination and growth and reduces the chances of weed establishment in your dam.
  • Aeration: Using aeration is a physical method of disrupting weed behaviour. As it causes the water to be constantly moving, weeds cannot take hold. It can also be used to create very aesthetically pleasing water features!

Our Top Tips for Controlling Weeds in Your Dam

  • Monitor consistently: If you have consistent monitoring of your weeds, you’re likely to notice if some patches are suddenly growing more quickly. This can help with early detection, targeted control, and better overall regulation.
  • Use natural methods where possible: As a company, Love My Dam is all about natural methods of control. Whether that be for algal blooms or weed issues, we believe in trying all-natural methods first. Not only are they likely to work much better than chemicals, but they can also preserve the delicate ecosystem and reduce damage to other species in your pond.
  • Identify weed species for targeted control: If you know what species are growing in your pond, then you know which biological herbicides, probiotic treatments, and other methods are going to be best for dealing with problems. Knowledge is power, even when it comes to weed control!
  • Prevent nutrient pollution: You can do this by minimising stormwater runoff, controlling floor and bank erosion, and practicing responsible fertilization. Excessive nutrient levels can fuel the overgrowth of weeds.
  • Maintain any shoreline vegetation well: Promoting the growth of plants native to the land around the dam’s shoreline can compete with unwanted weeds and ensure there is no excessive population.

Final Thoughts

Emergent weeds are common and often crucial to the overall health of your dam. However, as with any kind of lifeform in your water body, excessive growth and competitive populations can lead to an imbalance in the natural order and other issues.

There are plenty of modern techniques that can be used in place of chemicals and other limiting methods of weed control. It’s all about finding the right one for your needs.

If you’re looking for a natural method of weed control, then you have come to the right place. Love My Dam is committed to solving issues with the health of your dam in the kindest and least harmful way possible. Get in touch with the team now for more information on our weed control methods.