I have cattails growing in my ponds and behind my house. How do I get rid of them?
The Gardener’s Answer
Although cattails (Typha species) can improve water quality and provide shelter for aquatic animals and birds, they are very aggressive plants and, given the right conditions, will quickly take over. You have a few different options in terms of eliminating them around your pond and home. The mechanical method will require a gas-powered weed eater or trimming tool. It will take more than one attempt, but removing the foliage will prevent the plant from absorbing essential nutrients and eventually the health of the cattails will decline.
The chemical method involves spraying the foliage with glyphosate. This chemical will kill the cattails, but it will also kill other plant material that it touches. The most common product that contains glyphosate as its main ingredient is Roundup but there are many on the market. Cattails have a waxy covering on their foliage so adding a surfactant to the glyphosate will help adhere the liquid and be more effective. It is best to spray before the seed heads form. As with any chemical application, always follow product instructions.
Muskrats are very effective in eliminating cattails. They feed on the rhizomes and a single animal is all you would need. I wish I could catch one for you from our pond! If you want to keep any cattails, it is best to keep them in submerged in nursery pots so the rhizomes cannot spread.