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how to get rid of lily pads in pond

You’ve probably seen lily pads in ponds before. Lily pads are water lilies’ floating leaves. There are various types of lily pads, with some exotic variations sold as garden plants.

Typically, lily pads are broad, rounded leaves that grow from submerged rhizomes on long stalks that reach from below the water to the surface.

Some lily pads, such as the Victoria variety, even have thorns. The lily pad is connected to the rhizome and roots, that thrive under the surface of the water.

Even if you get rid of the water lily, the rhizome and the roots will still remain and grow back rapidly. 

Lily pads can be great to have in your pond, and can help protect the fish and other invertebrates living underneath your pond.

They offer a great source of shade, and so your pond will remain cool even in the summer months. They can even become a resting spot for insects and frogs all while preventing algae from growing underneath them.

However, having too many lily pads can cause issues. They can overcrowd your pond and deplete the amount of oxygen in your pond.

The last thing you want is for your pond to become stagnant and a hazard to the wildlife in your pond. 

In this article, we’ll list a number of natural ways to remove lily pads from your pond, and help you decide what will be the best solution for your pond. 

Methods Of Removing Lily Pads Naturally

There are a number of benefits to removing lily pads naturally, with most of the benefits being that they won’t do harm via chemicals to your pond and the wildlife in your pond.

We have compiled a list of ways that you can remove lily pads from the pond, and consider the benefits and disadvantages of removing them in this manner.

Not all of these methods will work for you, and they are not a quick fix for your pond. 

Below, you’ll find a number of ways to remove your lily pads, from using your hands to a variety of different tools that will help you.

Removal By Hand

Some people prefer to remove lily pads the old fashioned way, by removing them with your hands.

This may not be the best solution if you have a full infestation of lily pads in your pond, but it is good if you want to cut down on the number you have.

Removing a lily pad with your hands is a lot like pulling weeds in your garden, so you should wear protective gloves while you do this. 

This is a time consuming method, and it’s best to do this as a temporary measure to control the lily pads.

This doesn’t guarantee that you will successfully remove the roots and rhizomes, and they can still grow back.

So, if you want a temporary measure to lessen the number of lily pads, you can simply pull them from your pond. 

Pond Rakes To Remove Lily Pads

If you don’t want to spend too long pulling the lily pads from your pond with your hand, there are tools that specialize in this.

You could get a rake, either a gardening rake or a specialized aquatic rake. You could even make one if you wanted. Then, simply drag it across the bottom of a pond.

This can take time, and it has a higher chance of removing the roots and rhizomes of the lily pads.

However, it may also damage your quality of water and other plants that are growing in your pond. 

This may be a good plan if you have a significant amount of lily pads infesting your pond. If you want to control the number of lily pads and remove only a few, this may not be the best plan for you. 

If you want to build your own pond rake, it’s a relatively easy task to do. Most of these rakes consist of a landscape rake with a pool noodle attached to it.

You can also add a rope to these to throw it into the pond and pull it back to make it easier for you. All you have to do is cut the pool noodles to be roughly the width of your rake head.

Then attach the pool noodle by zip-tying or using velcro to attach it to the top of the rake.

If you have a big pond, you can also attach the rope to the top of the handle of your DIY home rake to help you reach further areas. This should then work as a cheap way to clear your pond of lily pads.

Cutting Lily Pads

If you have a number of lily pads and want to remove the top of them as a temporary measure, then a lily pad cutter can be used.

There are a variety of different types that you can find online, but they should always be used with care.

When you use a lily pad cutter, make sure you wear protective gloves so you don’t injure yourself.

The way to use a lily pad cutter is to throw it into the pond and drag it out again. This will remove the top of the lily pad and clear any parts by the surface.

While this way does get rid of lily pads from the surface of your pond, this won’t eliminate the roots.

This is a way to improve the aesthetic of your pond, but it won’t eliminate the root cause of their growth. 

Using Aquatic Vegetation Groomers

An aquatic vegetation groomer is essentially a weed whacker that you can use for ponds. It works as an aquatic weed cutting machine that is powered by gas.

These aren’t only for lily pads, and you can use them for cattails, bulrush, and weeds too.

However, you should always ensure that you remove any fish that live in your pond before using these. They are also a more expensive option.

While these won’t get rid of infestations as they won’t remove the roots and rhizomes of a lily pad, these may be an option for anyone who also have other plant infestations in their ponds. 

Pond Liner Installation

A pond liner may be a great option to eliminate the lily pads before they grow, and could be an excellent option if you’re new to owning a pond.

These are best to be installed as you’re building your pond in your garden. If you can’t install a pond liner, you could also fill the bottom of your pond with gravel to prevent the lily pads from growing.

If you already have your pond built, you can weigh down a large pond liner on the bottom of the pond with some rocks (see also ‘Why Pond Rocks Will Make You Love Your Pond Even More?’). 

If you do this, it’s always better to remember to perforate your pond liner to allow for gases to escape.

This is a slightly more difficult approach to removing lily pads, as you will need to maneuver a lot to ensure the pond liner is installed correctly.

This is why it is often recommended for someone building a pond (see also our guide on how to build a pond), to ensure that it can be weighed down properly when you fill your pond with water.

Covering Your Pond

Another way you could handle a lily pad infestation is by covering your pond with either a liner or a window screen. These will essentially kill the water lilies by not allowing any sunlight in to keep growing.

You could cover up a section at a time with a big infestation, although it may take some time. It takes a few weeks to kill the water lilies and prevent them from growing, so it does require some patience.

There are added benefits to including a cover over your pond, as it will keep any wildlife shaded and prevent them from getting too hot.

They will also protect your fish from predators if you have fish and don’t have a net over your pond already.

Generally, this is a great option to ensure that your fish are looked after as well as removing the lily pads from your pond naturally.

Using Pond Dye

Pond dyes are also a great way to stop the lily pads before they can grow. While it’s best to use them in early Spring, it will also benefit the pond by keeping it in shade.

While pond covers can work as a way to keep them in shade, pond dye is a more permanent solution. You can get different colors to enhance the visual appeal of your pond, darkening it or making the water appear bluer.

Pond dye can protect your fish from any predators, and all you need to do is put the pond dye into your pond every four to six weeks. 

Despite being a dye, it’s completely safe to use. While you should wear protective clothing such as gloves and work clothes, the pond will be safe once added to the pond. This means that your dye won’t endanger any wildlife in your pond.

The pond dye will shade any plants from the essential sunlight they need to grow and if it’s poured into your pond in Spring, it prevents them from growing too high to become an issue.

This way, in a matter of weeks, they will be no issue to your pond at all.

Keeping Fish In Your Pond

If you want to keep some fish, then some species will actually eat the lily pads. Types of fish that eat lily pads include koi, goldfish, and grass carp.

You should always make sure that whatever type of fish you have, that you make sure they don’t eat other plants in your pond as well.

Depending on the type of fish, you may also want to make sure that they’re legal in your state too.

Generally, when you have fish you need to consider the size of your pond and the water levels (see also our guide to pond water level control).

You should also get your fish from a reputable dealer and make sure that you provide them with a healthy diet and ensure that they’re protected from any roaming predators.

Like with all pets, their environment is essential to their wellbeing, and so you shouldn’t just expect them to eat all the lily pads in your pond. 

While having pond fish can help you take some control of a lily pad infestation, you should always remember not to overcrowd the pond.

If you also want to add grass carp to your pond, you should remember that they aren’t native to the United States, and so they may not be legal where you live.

In certain places, such as Texas and Oklahoma, if a grass carp gets released they may do damage to the local ecosystem. 

If you do get grass carp, you should ensure that there should only be five carp per vegetated acre. Grass carp can eat twice or three times as much of their body weight in vegetation each day.

Make sure that with each type of fish, that you do your research on how to look after them and consult experts if you add them to your pond.

What If Natural Methods Don’t Work?

If you find that it’s still a challenge to eradicate the lily pad infestation from your pond, there are herbicides that you can use. However, you shouldn’t do this as anything but a final resort.

There are certain state and local laws to consult to see if you have permission to use aquatic herbicides in your pond.

Two popular methods of herbicides include Shoreline Defense, which will kill the water lilies down to their roots.

You could also use Rodeo Aquatic which is designed to kill water lilies and pond weeds to control the growths in your pond.

Rodeo Aquatic is also best used when the plants are mature but you should also check whether you are allowed to use it in your State.

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of great ways to eliminate a lily pad infestation in your pond, and you should always use the right one for you.

While many of these treatments are not permanent, and will need to be redone every couple of weeks to ensure that they will work.

Many of these methods won’t eliminate the roots or the rhizomes of the lily pads, and so they are best used when you don’t have a full-blown infestation. 

While you can use aquatic herbicides to eliminate a lily pad infestation, you will have to check if you can use them in your state.

These should only be a last resort and only if the situation calls for them. They should never be used as a regular quick method for your pond, as natural methods are better to protect your pond’s natural ecosystem.

If you decide to use fish to control the lily pad infestation in your pond, you should ensure that you look after your fish and consult any experts on how to look after them.

You should also ensure that if you have grass carp that you are allowed them in your state.

Fish tend to be a good method to control lily pads, as they don’t have negative effects depending on the type of fish that you have in your pond. You should also ensure they are protected from predators.

Nothing prevents you from trying more than one of these methods at once, and it is recommended if you find that it is the easiest way for you.

Hopefully these natural methods will help you control the amount of lily pads that grow in your pond.

It is vital that lily pads don’t take over your pond as they can become a pest to the other plants and wildlife living in your ponds.

If you have any questions about looking after your pond, it’s important to consult an expert.