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How to Use Barley Straw in Ponds

Ponds add visual interest to a property and bring the opportunity to include fish and aquatic plants. Unfortunately, ponds also can bring problems in the form of algae that clouds the water and destroys the ponds' ecosystems. Although several methods get rid of algae, some of them involve using harsh chemicals or do little to prevent algae from returning. Applying barley straw is an alternative, completely natural way to keep ponds clear of algae, and it has long-term effectiveness.

Barley straw can be used in large and small ponds.

Step 1

Remove all existing algae blooms from each pond by using a pool skimmer or similar tool. Barley straw has little effect on existing algae.

Step 2

Prepare bundles of barley straw by placing loose barley straw in onion sacks, bird netting or other containers through which water flows easily without the container material breaking down or being negatively affected by water. Each bundle should include about 1 pound of barley straw. Create one bundle for every 2,000 gallons of a pond's water volume.

Step 3

Attach empty plastic bottles or foam flotation devices to each barley straw bundle by using a waterproof cord. The bottles and flotation devices provide buoyancy. Attach a brick or other weight to each bundle, using a waterproof cord that is long enough for the bundle to float within a few feet of the water surface.

Step 4

Place your barley straw bundles in various locations throughout each pond, ensuring a bundle is near any fountain, waterfall or filter output that circulates water into the pond.

Step 5

Check the bundles periodically, replacing them when most of the barley straw has broken down. Each bundle's barley straw can last up to six months, though water conditions may cause barley straw to break down more quickly.

Things You Will Need

  • Pool skimmer or similar tool
  • Onion sacks, bird netting or similar containers
  • Empty plastic bottles or foam flotation devices
  • Waterproof cord
  • Scissors or knife
  • Bricks or other weights

Tips

  • Although barley straw can be placed in a pond at any point during the year, putting fresh bundles of barley straw in a pond in early spring helps to ensure algae doesn't get a chance to grow as temperatures and daylight hours increase.
  • When water temperatures are 70 degrees Fahrenheit and above, barley straw becomes effective in reducing algae growth in approximately one to two weeks. When used in water temperatures 50 degrees Fahrenheit and lower, it can take as long as two months for it to begin working.

Warnings

  • Do not use fresh barley straw in your pond because it won't have the desired effect.
  • Avoid putting too much barley straw in your pond if fish or other organisms live in it. The breakdown of barley straw removes oxygen from the water, and overdosing the pond can make it inhospitable to many forms of aquatic life.
  • Barley straw will not reduce the growth of other unwanted aquatic plants in the pond. Unwanted aquatic plant growth may increase due to the elimination of algae.

About the Author

Born in West Virginia, Jack Gerard now lives in Kentucky. A writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience, he has written both articles and poetry for publication in magazines and online. A former nationally ranked sport fencer, Gerard also spent several years as a fencing coach and trainer.

Photo Credits

  • Paul Vasarhelyi/iStock/Getty Images