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Should I be cutting cattails before I spray them?
Ask Our Pond Experts
Ask Our Pond Experts

Should I be cutting cattails before I spray them?

Asked By: Charlene of Brandon, VT

A: Slashing through cattails can be cathartic, but we don't recommend it as the first step. The best way to rid your pond or lake of those nuisance plants is to use a cattail herbicide with a surfactant. Apply the mixture to the plant's leaves with a sprayer to kill the entire plant down to the roots. You can more easily cut cattails out of your pond once they wither and die.

Cattail Control Tips

Along with cottony seeds that explode from their brown, conical flowers, cattails propagate via their rhizomes—or root systems—which produce shoots in the fall that sprout in the spring. Destroying that rhizome with a cattail herbicide, like Shoreline Defense With Treatment Booster Plus, is critical to controlling cattails. When you stop their underground spread, you can manage their footprint in your pond or lake.

If you're new to pond cattail removal, here are some tips to make it hassle-free.

  1. The best time to spray cattails is between late July and the first frost when the plants are actively growing. Pick a day with no rain in the forecast for 24 hours to avoid rinsing the herbicide away before it is fully absorbed.

  2. Use a Pond Sprayer to apply the herbicide and surfactant mix to the leaves growing above the pond or lake’s surface. Thoroughly drench the foliage with cattail spray for maximum results.

  3. The best way to cut cattails is to use a Weed Razer to slash through the dead stalks near the base. Remove cut cattails from the pond with a durable Pond Rake to prevent them from decaying into muck.

Cattails aren't all bad, as they serve a vital role in your pond’s ecosystem. Besides adding a natural aesthetic to your landscape, they make a good home for various birds, insects, amphibians, and aquatic critters. Consider leaving a few cattails around for wildlife, or replant with a less aggressive species like variegated or dwarf cattails.

Controlling Cattails and Other Aquatic Weeds

Excessive weeds can make your pond unsuitable for boating, fishing, and other aquatic recreation. Now you know how to eliminate cattails, but what about tackling other pond weeds? Check out our Weed ID Guide, then contact us at 866-POND-HELP for prompt, personalized advice.

Read more weed control tips in these related articles:

How to Treat Pond Weeds
Identify Your Weeds
Use Only Approved Chemicals for Ponds
Aquatic Weed Control and Treatment
How to Reclaim Your Lakefront Shoreline

Last Updated: June 11, 2024