Helpful tips for water gardeners

By Cindi Sullivan
WAVE 3 Garden Expert

LOUISVILLE (WAVE) - Lots of water gardeners have been using barley straw to control algae growth in their gardens for years now. It's not unusual to see small bales of barley straw at your local water garden supply store. Evidence suggests that barley straw is good way to get and keep algae growth under control and keep your pond water clearer.

Studies show that barley straw can control certain types of algae. It does seem to be really good for controlling phytoplankton-the blue-green algae that makes the water murky. But then again, it might make other types like the mat forming algae worse.

A newer product now on the market are barley straw planters. These are actually preformed bales of straw with a planting hole in the center for a water garden plant. The theory is that as the straw breaks down a chemical or chemicals are released that inhibit the growth of algae. The barley straw needs s to be placed in an area where there is lots of water movement. Near a waterfall is an ideal spot. So these planters can make a practical way to display your plants and do some maintenance at the same time.

It takes a while for barley straw to start working and the effect is also temperature dependent. For instance, when temperatures are below 50 degrees it might take six to eight weeks to get going versus one to two weeks when temperatures are above 65 degrees. It is important to point out that barley straw in not considered an algaecide-but an algae growth inhibitor. It's not going to get rid of what you've got, but it might help slow down future growth. So the sooner you get the straw into the pond the better.

If you have a gardening question for Cindi, you can e-mail her by clicking on her name below. You can also find many helpful garden tips from Cindi by clicking on the highlighted link: Garden Talk.

Online Reporter:  Cindi Sullivan

Online Producer: Charles Gazaway