Our quarter acre pond is surrounded by clay soil. We have surrounding properties that have a 1 to 2% grade sloped to the yard and pond. I would estimate at least two surface acres runoff during heavy rain and snow melt. The yard is sodded, but due to trees it's not dense grass/lawn. So there is soil wash into the pond. And a sudden increase in muskrat activity the past year didn't help.
About 15 years ago my Mom had purchased Yellow Iris plants that ultimately didn't work in her flower garden. She later found out they are a water loving flower and suggested I take the flat she had for near the edge of our pond. The plants took to the edge of the water where I placed them and bloomed hardily the following year. Fast-forward to this year. After 15 years the Yellow Iris are around about 80% of the pond edges. They are aggressive spreaders due the germination of floating seeds. The wind blows the seeds to the pond edges and the seeds germinate from there. My observation has been that one, the plants don't spread outward much from the pond edge, so they won't take over shallow water like cattails. Two, the plants have a root network comprised of tubers and root mats. This second characteristic makes me think the plant could be a beneficial soil stabilizer to the pond banks. In my experience the plant stalks grow to about 3' in height, so while a minor nuisance to fishing, the plants don't stop use of the banks for fishing. The yellow blooms in early June are appealing and add to the pond aesthetics.
I know the Yellow Iris is on the list of invasive species in Ohio and elsewhere. My strategy to deal with this would be to cut off the seed pods in later summer to eliminate or limit spreading of the plant by seeding. The plants themselves also spread via the root system, but not rapidly or out of control. At one time I allowed native cattails to spread around the pond. I found the cattails to be much too invasive into up to 5' of water. This shrunk the pond size considerably. That was not an easy problem to eliminate either. The Yellow Iris seem to be a better pond bank plant solution.
Are there concerns with any chemicals the Yellow Iris plants generate into the water?? Any other problems the plants might cause that I should be aware of?? I've read from the Web that the plant has a chemical that many browsing animals avoid. (Despite this, the muskrats don't seem to care in my experience. I've found springy, carbon steel quite effective in dealing with the rats....). Thanks!
I am intrigued by the Yellow Iris now. I know I have heard that they are invasive, but that is in the eyes of the beholder, right?. I have been blessed with a wonderful piece of propertty that tends to grow the undesirables more than anything else (thorny locust, hedge, stick-tights, cat's briar...you name it). The YI might just be at home at my place. I look forward to this conversation...maybe I'll try some. I tried some Blue Flag Iris, once, and they did not take.
Hi Noel and RS- Right now it's SNOWING, but I will get some fresh pics of current YI around the pond edges. If the plant is not a problem for the water quality, it may be that I'm not that far off from having enough YI to edge the entire pond. It makes a big difference to have the muskrats under control at the moment.... Stay tuned!
This is photo from Sept '19 of West half of pond. You will see some YI growing along the pond edge. Hopefully you can zoom the image to see details. Much of the vegetation is mud stained on lower few inches. A few days before photo we had 3.5" of rain in about 2.5 hours. That's an insane amount of rainfall for NEO. To make matters worse, my neighbor- with my concurrence- had removed a series of Austrian pine root balls on the property line. He had back-filled everything, but nothing had been done to seed the areas as of yet. This led to a significant silt wash into the pond and water visibility was under 6". A few days after this photo I seeded the bare areas of the two yards and the grass seed germinated. That soil wash threat has been remedied.
The YI is not very dense in this photo as the muskrats until early August really cut them off aggressively. At that point my experimental aeration took out the muskrats (hydrogen sulfide I believe...) at that time. My experience has been the YI root near the edge of the water and gradually crawl upward from the water's edge. Not much growth into the water itself. And yeah, it's still snowing here right now....went from 42 to 35 degrees and then started snowing. Shouldn't accumulate, but still!!!
I like the way they look bordering the edges. Just some quick reading on them and, aside from the naysayers wrt invasiveness, they are know to be mildly toxic to pets that ingest them and are known to help reduce pollutants in the water.
Thanks for additional info on mildly toxic to pets. I will warn my neighbor that his retriever should probably avoid snacking if she visits the pond. The dog seems more interested in swimming than anything else. I have respectfully asked that she remain out of the pond since I'm trying to improve water clarity. I don't expect complete compliance as a retriever loves the water. I'm hopeful that her visits are short and infrequent.
I had some YI in bloom photos on my old cellphone that I broke. I can add a photo or two in about four weeks with the plants in bloom- muskrats willing of course!! In the meantime, once the snow ends, I'll take a pic with my cell of the current YI growth and coverage. The plants are only about half-height right now, but a current image might give a better view of what unmolested plants look like in the spring. The plants completely die back in late fall/winter and send all new shoots up each spring.
No time like the present..... A couple more pics of our pond showing YI along banks and some white stuff floating in the air... The next time the sun is present, I will attempt a photo showing the root mass or mat in the water. It's pretty dense and might be helpful slowing soil wash and catching it.
Last edited by neopond; 05/08/2001:55 PM. Reason: added comments
I have had yellow and blue Louisiana iris on ponds. The yellow did seem a bit more aggressive than the blue, but both will spread all around the lake in east Texas. On my current 80 acre lake we have the blue flag iris. They have migrated to most areas of the lake. Pickerel weed grows a bit deeper and co-exists with the iris. And yes, they are very good for stabilizing the shoreline.
Thanks for the reply Ross. The YI are growing quite rapidly now and this year could be a nice one for blooms. It's ironic you mention Pickerel weed. I just purchased some plants to start in our pond. It's good to know the YI and PW can coexist. The plan is to get the water lilies, YI, pond weed and the PW to healthy condition. I'm still pondering the use of some softball or larger limestone on the downwind edge of the pond to deter the vermin muskrats and to further stabilize the pond bank that seems to be the most prone to soil washing. Sounds like you have quite a lake-- 80 acres sounds HUGE!
RC- thanks on PW experience!! My biggest issue now is how to undo some of the damage I did by putting too many trees near the South bank of the pond. I shaded the sod too much and with moderate to heavy rainfall I get a lot of soil wash. I'm considering putting some pea gravel and large limestone along most of the South bank where much of the ground water runoff rolls into the pond. I did put some pea gravel and egg stone down at the main entry point of the ground water runoff in SW corner of the pond yesterday. A lot more would have helped. I could cut down some White Spruce to reduce shading, but I want that to be a last resort thing.
It will be a few weeks before the Pickerel weed arrives. In the meantime I'm working with my brother who has some sedge and squaw weed to augment the sodded areas that have become thin and bare. I'll also apply some more fescue seed to those areas too. Doggone rain is supposed to start up again this evening and go through Tuesday. The rainfall on Friday evening took pond clarity from around 20" down to about 4". It's a muddy looking mess right now. Sometimes when we have the sort of rainfall we've been experiencing recently, a nuisance rat will appear too. Traps are set should that happen. It sure seems like the smaller the pond, the more management that is required..... If I can keep the muskrats away, I should be able to provide some blooming YI photos in about three weeks.
Hi John- thanks for the input on use of rocks. The threads are extensive and informative. In a way I'm fortunate that our pond is small. The area of concern is only about 50' to 60' of the South/Southeast bank of the pond. The original construction was done two or three years prior to our purchase of the residence in '87. The contractor dug the bank at a pretty steep angle- probably to limit vegetation spread. I'm thinking of having a local contractor drop off two different limestone sizes. Larger for first submerged bank cover and smaller over that. This will be a challenge to set due to the trees and right now slippery clay soil above the bank. I'm not in a big rush and should be able to wait for drier conditions before starting-- with assistance from Mother Nature slowing down the water spigot! I will check with the contractor that delivers to find out if there is a typical "shape" to the limestone. Obviously some flatter or square rock might help limit rolling of the rock as I place it. I should have some additional sedge plants to start in this same area in the soil above the bank. My thought is creating a 20' wide meadow-like environment under the trees to provide a denser soil cover to slow and retain the clay that's being transported. The water primrose sounds like a nice cover, but it may be too invasive in a smaller pond like mine. I'm going to stick with YI, water lilies, pond weed, and PW for now. The key will be keeping the muskrats at bay. They have damaged not only the vegetation, but this same S/SE bank of pond. The burrow digging and erosion it causes is nasty. The addition of rock should inhibit these vermin from setting up dens in the pond. With traps as a more permanent remedy. I'm still surprised that in our small 0.25 acre pond that I've trapped four rats and a Mink this Spring. There are three similar sized ponds in adjacent neighboring properties. Our pond seems to be MOST attractive for some reason. My theory is the vegetation I've selected and propagated in and around the pond makes the most natural environment the rats prefer.
The rats definitely like vegetation. I have had problems with them coming up the overflow pipe, using it as a protected tunnel from hawk predation, to enter my main pond and also from my main pond to forage pond. A trap right at the end of the pipe seems to do the trick. They make such things called "rat guards" that prevent them from using the pipe, but the way my pipes ends are makes it hard if not impossible for me to install the rat guards.
The old Field of Dreams movie saying, "If you build it, they will come", comes to mind. I have all sorts of herrings and cormorants that just love my main pond where I have high concentrations of fish. Not to mention a Bald Eagle. The more we try and make the ponds thriving with fish, the more attractive we make it to predators too.
What a difference a month makes!! I've been able to avoid further muskrat invasions and the Yellow Iris are making a comeback-- rewarding us with blooms. The plants now stand 3ft+ tall and look MUCH better than last year after the 'rats were aggressively cutting the canes. I can't get a good photo of the root system, but it's a combination of tuber and a fibrous mass. The blooms don't last long-- maybe two or three days. The blooming is somewhat staggered, so the blooming lasts about 10 days total, in our location. Hopefully some of those following this thread will find the YI interesting and a possibility for their pond. To control spread, I would cut the seed pods off where the bloom heads formed. Maybe in late July or August. Just make sure it's done before the pods open and drop their seed payload in the Fall.
You may see my air compressor housing in one of the photos. I've switched to a "summer" aeration system that is a single diffuser in about 8.5 feet of water depth. Next step to optimize the system is to plug the timer for nighttime operation into the AC circuit for the pump. I may do that this evening.
We have yellow flag iris (not to be confused with Louisiana iris or blue flag iris). That said, there are better alternatives for emergent flowers and bank stabilization. The biggest downside to them is there invasiveness. Cattails have the same issue. I use giant burreed as an alternative to cattails. Suggest yellow water lilies to add some yellow flowers to the mix.
Last edited by RAH; 06/06/2006:13 AM. Reason: add more
With regards to the invasiveness of YI, IF the seeds are allowed to drop and germinate the plants will show up around the BOW and the discharge path of the BOW. The plants can show up hundreds of feet away from the BOW. I can confirm this from my own experience. As far as the plants spreading from existing plants, in my experience the plants tend to grow AWAY from the water's edge and not deeper into the water. At our pond after 15 years the plants' spread is all within 3' of the pond edges. In most places the plants are only one foot from the pond edge, growing away from the edge. The other native plants and grasses seem to slow the YI spread via their root system.
I'm not advocating YI is the best plant for every BOW. I'm just sharing that I much prefer YI to cattails that I've witnessed in our pond growing into depths of up to 6' of water, essentially choking the pond shallow areas. IMHO, YI can be part of a soil erosion solution. There are likely other preferable plants to YI. For our pond the YI are a positive. I just recently purchased and planted a couple dozen Pickerel Weed plants. I like adding color to the pond edges and watching the pollinators is nearly as enjoyable as observing the fish. I'm hopeful that the PW will add a different color to all the yellow of the YI. I was a bit surprised last evening to see a honeybee working the YI blossoms. I used to work for a beekeeper as a teen and found that blossoms with deeper shapes were typically not attractive to honeybees due to their mouth structure and focus on high nectar yield plants only. It was interesting watching the bee crawl deep into the blossom to extract the nectar. And, the plants will likely produce a lot of seeds this fall due to the pollination the bee is performing. I may remove most of the seed pods to limit the number of new plants next year.
RAH- thanks for sharing your experience to this thread. I'm new to the PB forum and others here have far more experience with all things pond. I value all the insight and experience.
A good friend pulled a 4.4 lb LMB yesterday and caught a 6.4 lb LMB last Fall. Neighbor harvested his yearly quota of nice BG (63 fish) from this same 1 acre pond. One of our photos did end up in a university extension publication on pond management. Wildlife habitat development is a passion of mine. https://www.facebook.com/groups/442011656723370/
Last edited by RAH; 06/08/2009:53 AM. Reason: typo