How Monty Don uses Barley Straw to Eliminate Blanket Weed

As Monty Don pointed out on a recent edition of TV's Gardeners' World, blanket weed is almost inevitable if you have a pond. Dan Everton reports on a natural method that really works.

Created by Dan Everton on Wednesday, 8th of May, 2013.
Updated on Monday, 31st of August, 2015.

blanket weed

Crystal clear water can become choked with what can only be described as green gunk. It's unsightly and, because it removes oxygen from the water, will be detrimental to any pond life.

What causes the problem? Monty explained that 'a combination of warm water, sunlight, andnutrients from decomposing organic matter, provide the ideal conditions for the growth of algae'.

Poor filtration and shallow water make matters worse.

Prevention Is Better Than Cure

Preventative measures can be taken. Your pond may be positioned where leaves collect in the autumn, so either relocate the pond or use netting to prevent them entering the water.

Shade is important, make sure that plants such as water lilies cover 50% of the water surface, but don't forget to collect the dying foliage of aquatic plants before it falls to the bottom.

Ideally the water should be 3- 4ft deep and not overstocked with fish. To prevent the build up of nutrients, make sure that filtration is adequate and well maintained.

Barley Straw

What Monty prescribed was a simple solution that would be a surprise to many. Instead of a chemical based water treatment, his 'magic ingredient' is barley straw.

First you have to clear as much blanket weed as you can using a net or a stick. Then place the straw in the water.

Prepacked straw is available from aquatic retailers. Alternatively fill some net sacking or even an old pair of tights and weigh them down with a stone.

You'll need approximately 2oz of straw to 10sq ft of surface area (50gms for every sq metre).

The gardening guru then explained the process, 'as the straw breaks down it releases a chemical that inhibits the growth of the algae'.

But don't expect miracles overnight. The effect can take over a month to begin, however your blanket weed will then be kept at bay for around six months.

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