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(Springfield) – Unwanted aquatic plants are the number-one pond maintenance problem in Missouri.

These unwanted plants make their appearance every year with the arrival of warmer temperatures, and continue to annoy pond owners throughout the summer and fall.

Patrick Byers, horticulture specialist with the University of Missouri Extension, says water plants have some very good attributes, such as providing nesting and breeding habitat for fish and other animals and helping with erosion control by minimizing wave damage to shorelines. Water plants also have a downside, however: excessive growth of aquatic weeds can interfere with recreational activities, create health hazards, destroy wildlife habitat, cause undesirable odors and kill fish.

Byers say the first step to good weed control in a lake or pond is first determining whether you have a problem that needs attention. Second, it is important to identify the problem weed. Before choosing an herbicide, Byers recommends carefully reading the label to learn which plants can be controlled, and when to apply. Also check for the safety of humans, livestock and fish.

Possible non-chemical methods for water plant control include stocking the pond with grass carp, deepening the pond’s edges, weeding and removing new growth by hand or shading the pond with black plastic to prevent sunlight from reaching the plants.

For additional gardening and horticultural advice, contact the Greene County Master Gardener Hotline at 417-881-8909.

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