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Taking Back Your Pond: Organic Methods to Remove Invasive Cattails and Other Emergent Plants

emergent plants invasive cattails organic methods to remove cattails remove invasive cattails taking back your pond May 12, 2023


Do you have a small farm pond on your property? If so, you may have noticed invasive cattails and other emergent plants taking over the water’s edge. These plants may look pretty, but they can actually be harmful to the health of your pond ecosystem.

Invasive cattails and other emergent plants can grow rapidly, outcompeting native plants and reducing the amount of oxygen in the water. This can cause problems for fish, frogs, and other aquatic animals that rely on healthy ecosystems to survive. Plus, they can make your pond look unkempt and unappealing.

Luckily, there are organic removal methods you can use to control these invasive plants and keep your pond healthy. In this article, we’ll explore the different methods available, how to use them effectively, and case studies of successful organic removal.


Invasive cattails and other emergent plants can be a nuisance in small farm ponds, but what makes them so harmful? Understanding their physical characteristics and ecological impacts is key to effectively controlling them.

Cattails are tall, reed-like plants that grow in wetland habitats like marshes and ponds. They are native to North America and can be found in various parts of the world. Cattails have a characteristic brown seed head that resembles a hot dog and can grow up to 10 feet tall.

These plants can grow and spread quickly by sending out underground stems called rhizomes, which can create dense mats of vegetation that choke out other plants. Cattails can also contribute to eutrophication, a process in which the pond becomes overloaded with nutrients, leading to excessive algae growth and depletion of oxygen in the water. This can be harmful to fish and other aquatic organisms that depend on healthy ecosystems to survive.

Other emergent plants that can become invasive in small farm ponds include water hyacinth, water lettuce, and duckweed. These plants can grow rapidly and form dense mats on the surface of the water, blocking sunlight and oxygen from reaching other aquatic plants and animals.


There are several organic removal methods that can be used to control invasive cattails and other emergent plants in small farm ponds. These methods are preferred over chemical alternatives as they are safer for the environment and other organisms in the pond.

One effective method of organic removal is the use of natural herbicides like vinegar or catplex. These herbicides work by drying out the plant’s leaves and preventing it from photosynthesizing. Vinegar can be mixed with water to create a 20% vinegar solution, which can be sprayed directly onto the cattails or other plants. Catplex is another natural herbicide made from a combination of clove oil, citric acid, and vinegar. It can be applied directly to the plant or mixed with water and sprayed.

Physical removal of cattails and other emergent plants is another option. This involves physically pulling out the plants by the roots or cutting them down with a weed cutter. However, this method may be labor-intensive and not as effective as using natural herbicides.

Biological control methods involve introducing natural enemies of the invasive plant to the pond ecosystem. For example, grass carp or koi fish can be introduced to the pond to eat the cattails. However, this method requires careful consideration as introducing new species to the ecosystem can have unintended consequences.


When using organic removal methods to control invasive cattails and other emergent plants in small farm ponds, there are several best practices to keep in mind.

First, it’s important to properly identify the target plant species before attempting removal. Different plants may require different removal methods or herbicides, and misidentification could lead to ineffective removal or unintended harm to non-target species.

Second, it’s important to use herbicides or removal methods that are safe for the environment and non-toxic to other organisms in the pond. Natural herbicides like vinegar or Catplex are preferred over chemical alternatives, as they are safer and more environmentally friendly.

Third, it’s important to carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions and safety guidelines when using any herbicide or pesticide. Protective gear like gloves and goggles should be worn to prevent contact with the herbicide, and the herbicide should be stored safely out of reach of children and animals.

Finally, it’s important to monitor the pond ecosystem after removal to ensure that the target plant species does not regrow or that unintended consequences do not occur.


Removing cattails and other emergent plants from small farm ponds using vinegar or Catplex can be an effective method of control. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to use these herbicides:

  1. Identify the target plant species to ensure you use the correct removal method or herbicide.
  2. Choose a sunny day with little to no wind to apply the herbicide.
  3. Mix vinegar with water to create a 20% vinegar solution. Alternatively, mix Catplex with water as per the instructions on the label.
  4. Apply the herbicide directly onto the cattails or other emergent plants, ensuring that all leaves are thoroughly coated.
  5. Repeat the application after two to three weeks to ensure that any new growth is also controlled.

To ensure safety and avoid damage to other plants and wildlife, here are some best practices to keep in mind:

  1. Wear gloves and goggles to protect your skin and eyes from the herbicide.
  2. Ensure that the herbicide is stored safely out of reach of children and animals.
  3. Only apply the herbicide to the target plants and avoid spraying non-target species.
  4. Avoid applying the herbicide on windy days or when rain is expected within the next 24 hours.

Timing and frequency of herbicide application can also play an important role in the success of the removal. In general, herbicides should be applied when the plants are actively growing and have sufficient leaf surface area to absorb the herbicide. The optimal frequency of herbicide application may vary depending on the specific plant species and geographic location. It’s best to consult with a professional or conduct research on specific plant species before determining the optimal timing and frequency of herbicide application.


To illustrate the effectiveness of organic removal methods for controlling invasive cattails and other emergent plants in small farm ponds, let’s take a look at some real-life case studies.

Case Study 1: A small farm pond in Iowa was overrun with cattails, making it difficult for livestock to access the water. The farmer used a 20% vinegar solution to spray the cattails and noticed a significant reduction in growth within a few weeks. After a second application, the cattails were virtually gone, and the livestock had easier access to the water.

Case Study 2: A homeowner in Michigan had a small pond in their backyard that was overrun with duckweed. They used a natural herbicide containing vinegar, citric acid, and clove oil to control the growth of the duckweed and noticed a significant reduction in growth within a few weeks. After two applications, the duckweed was completely gone, and the homeowner was able to enjoy a clear and healthy pond.

Case Study 3: A small lake in Wisconsin was infested with Eurasian watermilfoil, a highly invasive aquatic plant. The lake association used a natural herbicide containing vinegar and citric acid to treat the infestation. After several applications, the watermilfoil was almost completely gone, and the lake’s native plants began to thrive again. (Source: “Organic Control of Invasive Aquatic Plants: A Case Study” by R. Wilson and C. Reschke, Journal of Aquatic Plant Management, 2003)

These case studies demonstrate the effectiveness of organic removal methods for controlling invasive cattails and other emergent plants in small farm ponds. Safe and environmentally friendly methods like vinegar or natural herbicides can remove invasive plants and restore the health and beauty of your pond ecosystem.


Controlling invasive cattails and other emergent plants in small farm ponds is crucial for maintaining the health and beauty of the ecosystem. While traditional herbicides can be effective, they often come with potential risks to the environment and other non-target species. Organic removal methods like vinegar and Catplex offer a safer and more environmentally friendly alternative for controlling these invasive species.

By following best practices and using these organic removal methods responsibly, farmers and homeowners can successfully remove invasive cattails and other emergent plants from their ponds. Additionally, utilizing case studies and other sources of information can provide valuable insight and guidance for effectively managing invasive species.

P.S.: – Join the EAT Community today and become a part of a community dedicated to sustainable agriculture and environmental conservation. Together, we can promote organic removal methods and work towards creating a healthier and more sustainable world.



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