Information About Lake Weeds & How To Kill Them
Lake: (Def) Noun : A large body of fresh water surrounded by land:
Lake Weed Issues
Lakes are considered a luxury due to the fact that there is only so many lake available. Lake front property is in short supply, and over the last century the development of these properties has sky rocketed. Many of the things that had made our lakes so desirable has been lost due to over development and poor watershed management.
So, what is happening in our lakes? Watershed issues and hard surfaces have changed how nutrients enter the lakes. Properties that had trees and shrubs lining the lakefront have given way to grass lawns and fresh views. This practice has changed the way run-off from our property is processed. The new backyard is designed for one thing “aesthetics” and doesn’t consider what it can do to the water quality. Grass needs to be fertilized, irrigated, and mowed on a continual basis. The effects of the phosphorous from the fertilizer can be devastating to a lake, overloading nutrient and causing high growth rates of lake weeds.
The development of these lake front properties has removed what is called the Buffer zone. The Buffer zone is an area around a lake that has a dense population of deeply rooted plants, tree, and grasses. Without a buffer of trees, plants and shrubs that absorb much of the nutrients that comes from our property, a high percentage of nutrients end up directly in the lake. This promotes aquatic plant growth and a shift in the water quality.
How did these weeds get to my lake?
Over the years we have seen several non-native aquatic weeds sprout up in our lakes, most are from aquariums that are emptied into a storm drain, or from people that have actually planted these weeds off there property to improve the waterfronts appeal. The fact is we live in a pretty global world, so when we do something in say Athens, NY like plant a particular lily from Asia in our little pond we have introduced the entire east coast and maybe the continent to a new “non-native” species of plant. “HOW, its just my little pond in upstate NY”. All water source are open to waterfowl and storm water run off, which are just a couple ways these non native plants spread. Boating can be another high risk area where these weeds are distributed over long distances. A great book on the subject is “Diet for a Small Lake” Prepared by the NYSFOLA.
How do lake weeds harm my lake front?
Every lake needs a balance of plant life to off set the nutrients that are available. The plant life has many forms as seen in figure 1 above, Emerging plants that are normally in the shallower depths and provide cover for waterfowl and fish, floating weeds like lilies and duck weed, and subsurface weed that can grow in high depths. When the balance of plant life to nutrients is altered you can have huge changes in the health of your lake.
- Oxygen depletion – causing fish to die
- Toxic blooms that have been known to kill animals and a few people.
- Water usage problems, flow restrictions and stagnant water.
For example, A lake in Northern NJ, this lake never used chemical and had no real problem with weeds, the lake started to develop its coast line and over a few decades its landscape changed. Fishing and boat was always good and the cost of maintenance was always low. At some point the weed Eurasian Milfoil was introduced to the lake and within a few years had taken over most of the southern part of the lake. The water in the areas in which this weed had spread would become stagnant and during the hot summer months would have problems with mosquitoes. This lake weed would come to the surface and canopy, drowning out all the other native weeds and then take over more area.
The Fact was they had no idea what to do. A company was contacted to control these weeds, and they used chemicals to kill them, but at a high cost. The chemical knocked back the growth, and everyone was happy, but the weeds came back. Another treatment was called for, and implemented only 6 short weeks after the first. At this point the biomass from the decaying vegetation was acting like fertilizer pushing nutrients back into the water column and changing the dissolved oxygen levels.
Next was the fish kills due to low oxygen and then the algae blooms that turned the crystal clear water to green slim… The cycle began… use a chemical to control one thing, than another chemical to control the by product of the first chemical. How can this be good for your lake?
Native subsurface weeds usually don’t cause the same problems that are inherent with non native invasive species. Healthy lakes have a few things going for them, Native subsurface weeds, a good food chain, water clarity and good water movement.
How to control lake weeds
To control aquatic plants you need to work from the idea that they are needed in some form. Killing them all to create some kind of swimming pool atmosphere doesn’t work.
What do most people want? An area for them to do what they want when they want to do it. Thanks to the Lake Bottom Blanket each home owner has the opportunity to control the aquatic weeds where they want. LBB’s can be used to clear an area for swimming, fishing or to clear a path to deeper water. It can be installed at any point during the growing season, and you have a instant weed free area…
We have put together a few pages to describe a few of the invasive lake weed species
Variable leaf Milfoil
Curly leaf pond weed