How can I safely get rid of cattails in a stream?

Asked June 6, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT

Hi I have a stream running through my property that is mainly storm water related. It is now starting to have cattails in it. The problem is mainly that everything flowing through it is now getting caught on them. How can I get rid of them without harming the other vegetation and wildlife...turtles , snakes,not really any fish

Licking County Ohio irrigation and water management watershed protecting water quality and quantity in the local watershed

1 Response

Dear LickingCo OH, Thank you for contacting Extension with your natural resource questions. You can get rid of the cattails a number of ways, depending on your preferences. We control weeds basically three ways: Biologically, Mechanically, and with pesticides. Biologically, you could place something out there that would eat the cattails; cattle and goats work well, but they will also need tending. Mechanically, you could go out there and literally pull them up. You may need a backhoe to do the job. Finally you could use pesticides. You consider the cattails a pest to be eradicated. Herbicides are the pesticide of choice because in most cases the herbicide only kills plants. There are two chemicals that will work well on these plants; glyphosate and triclopyr. Glyphosate is typically known as Roundup (but DON'T use Roundup!), and triclopyr is known as Garlon. You can buy these herbicides in high concentrations in generic trade names. [This is why you should not use Roundup. The solution Roundup is made up of the chemical glyphosate, water, and a sticky substance known as a 'surfactant'. The chemical and water will not harm aquatic life, but the surfactant can.] Buy the chemicals without a surfactant added; you won't need it. If you visit a local 'feed & seed' store, I'm sure the owner will be able to help you. Remember to read the label. The label is federal law. Using a pesticide in a manner not instructed on the label is a crime. A low concentration 2-3% should do the trick. I trust this helps. Contact me if you have any additional questions. Blessings. - Andy