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How to Control Cattails During the Cold Months

The temperature is dropping quickly, and the snow is falling thick and fast. For some people that means that it’s time to break out the sleds and skis, but for many of us with ponds this means that it’s prime time to do a little cattail control!

Here is a quick guide to keeping your cattails from spreading too quickly without killing them outright. This method is relatively quick and painless, and it won’t break the bank!

There are a number of tools that can be used for this task, but perhaps the easiest and most effective is a weed whacker. If you don’t have access to one, then a sharpened flat-blade shovel, a weed cutter or any similar sharp object will work as well. Simply cut the cattails off right at the top of the ice (please test the ice to be sure that it is thick enough to be safe!) And then make sure to remove that debris! This task is the easiest to do once your pond has completely frozen over, because you don’t have to try and fish through the water to get rid of the plant material.

Winter is the ideal time to cut your cattails back, because every year they die down to the roots, meaning that you can cut of the top without harming the existing plant! Cattails reproduce in two ways. The first way is through the seed head at the top of the plant, which is why it’s a good idea to cut them off and remove the plant matter. The second way that they reproduce is through rhizomes, which is their root system. Although cutting off the tops of the plant does not directly stop the cattails from spreading via rhizomes, removing the dead plants will help avoid a buildup of decaying matter that is a perfect bed for new shoots.

Cattails are notoriously speedy when it comes to reproduction and because they spread so quickly, it doesn’t take long for them to get out of hand. Although having some in your pond can be beneficial, too many becomes a nuisance and can keep you from enjoying your pond the way that you want to. By taking action every winter, you can keep your pond happy and healthy. Just how you like it!