Using Barley Straw to clear 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 and barley straw might be a surprising answer to this problem...

Created by Andy Hobson (Alumni) on Tuesday, 29th of July, 2014.
Updated on Tuesday, 2nd of June, 2015.


When your crystal clear pond water becomes choked with what can only be described as green gunk, it's unsightly and, because blanketweed removes oxygen from the water, it will be detrimental to any pond life.

The Problem With Blanketweed

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

Poor filtration and shallow water make matters worse.

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.

During hot weather be careful when when you top up the pond with tap water as the chlorine can upset the balance of the pond.

How To Use 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. 

Barley straw is available from aquatic retailers and can come in bales of barley strawliquid barley straw and pellet barley straw forms.

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.

As the hot weather continues, if you have never thought about using barley straw before, this might be the right time to consider this natural solution.

GardenSite also sell a wide range of Blanket Weed Treatments and Remedies for your pond including brushes and electronic solutions.

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