When you look our over a lake, you may notice many aquatic plants. However, if you see some featuring a brown, cylindrical flowering head and distinctive leaves that are long, slender, upward-growing and branchless, you realize there are cattails in my lake. A very common sight in many lakes and ponds, cattails are pretty to look at and are often welcomed by most people. But like other aquatic plants, too many cattails in a lake can pose some problems. If you're curious about the good, the bad, and the ugly about these plants and wonder how many cattails should be in my lake, we here at Crosscreek Environmental have a few tips you can keep in mind.
The Pros of Cattails
When you have cattails in your lake, the good news is that this comes with many benefits. To begin with, they are an excellent habitat for resident and migratory birds, as well as various aquatic or semi-aquatic organisms. Along with this, the plants act as a shoreline buffer, helping to prevent erosion and minimize the amount of nutrients in the lake's water. Since the cattails can make good use of many nutrients before they enter the water, algae growth is often kept to a minimum as well. Finally, parts of cattails are actually edible, while parts of the stalks can also be used in the making of ropes and baskets.
The Cons of Cattails
After reading about the pros of cattails, you're probably wondering how there can possibly be any downside associated with these lake plants. However, despite their many benefits, too many cattails in my lake will soon have you calling on lake management companies such as us here at Crosscreek Environmental. For starters, while cattails can be pretty to look at as you scan your lake's water, you need to realize these plants have very expansive underground root systems. Thus, if your lake is somewhat small, cattails can quickly spread and eventually overtake other native plants. If this happens, the amount of open water habitat will decrease substantially. Also, cattails tend to attract muskrats and mosquitoes, neither of whom you want taking up residence in and around your lake. If you allow cattails to grow and grow, this will severely limit what if any recreational activities can be done at your lake. Thus, once you think your cattails are starting to get out of hand, calling on lake management companies such as Crosscreek Environmental should be your first step to solving the problem of how many cattails should be in my lake.
Options for Curtailing Cattails
Once you decide it's time to curtail your cattails, lake management experts here at Crosscreek Environmental can meet with you to inspect your lake and determine the extent, composition, and distribution of the growth. Though you'll probably think getting rid of all your lake's cattails is warranted, this is not the best option. Since they do offer many benefits, control rather than eradication is encouraged. As for your options for doing just this, the two most common options are aquatic herbicides or mechanical removal.
A cost-effective option, aquatic herbicides are applied to the leaves of the plant by a Crosscreek Environmental technician who is licensed to do so in accordance with state and federal EPA regulations. However, keep in mind that while the herbicides will kill the plants, the dead plants will stick around for several seasons until they decompose or are physically removed.
Using a floating backhoe known as a hydro-rake, Crosscreek Environmental pros will be able to remove cattails and their deep root systems from your lake. If considering this option, keep in mind the hydro-rake does have logistical limitations that could make it difficult to eliminate cattails from certain areas.
The Combination Approach
For most lake owners, combining aquatic herbicides and mechanical removal often works best. In doing so, you're likely to get sustained long-term control while minimizing the impact to the lake's ecosystem. But before starting any work, make sure you're aware of local, state, and federal regulations that may apply.
Once you're ready to take on the cattails in my lake, contact Crosscreek Environmental by visiting crosscreekenvironmental.com or calling us at 941-479-7811.