Removing reeds from the pond: How to get rid of them

Removing reeds from the pond

Reeds are only suitable for large garden ponds as they grow rapidly and spread quickly. Pond enthusiasts, who are starting with a garden pond, sometimes plant reeds because they offer a beautiful look, provide shade, and serve as a hiding place for various animals. However, within a short time, they can grow so strongly that they displace other plants. Plant baskets can’t contain the root growth, they only help with planting. If you don’t remove reeds in time, they can take over the entire pond. But there are various ways to prevent this and remove the reeds.

Why you should remove reeds from the pond:

You don’t have to completely avoid reeds in the garden pond, but for small ponds, you should only plant varieties that don’t spread as much, such as bulrush. Reeds are visually pleasing and contribute to making your pond a beautiful ecosystem. They can provide shade in the summer months and serve as a hiding place for various animals. If you’re creating your garden pond for the first time, you should pay attention to a root barrier that is buried deep enough in the soil to prevent the reeds from spreading too much in the garden and the pond.

Since reeds grow rapidly, they can displace everything around them and become a nuisance if not controlled. Once they have spread in your pond and possibly even damaged the liner, it’s not just annoying but can also become expensive. The roots can grow up to 1.50 meters long. Enough reasons to tackle the reeds in your pond in a timely manner.

One thing to note: Chemicals are a no-go!

If you want to get rid of your reeds, you should avoid using chemical herbicides like Roundup. Such herbicides are extremely harmful to humans and the environment. They can harm fish and other pond inhabitants, as well as birds and pets. These chemicals are suspected to be carcinogenic and can also lead to liver and kidney damage. Not only reeds but also surrounding plants are damaged by herbicides.

Pulling out reeds – only if they haven’t spread too much:

Don’t attempt to pull reeds out with your hands, as it can lead to painful injuries. In any case, you need good work gloves, sturdy work boots or rubber boots, and safety goggles to prevent potential eye injuries from the tough stems and leaves. If the reeds haven’t spread much, you can use screw hooks screwed tightly into a longer wooden handle, such as a broomstick. Insert the hook into the reed stem, push it downward, and rotate the device several times to pull out the reeds with their roots. This method is labor-intensive and requires muscle power and patience. It’s suitable only when you have a small amount of reeds to remove.

Digging out reeds: A common but labor-intensive method

Digging out reeds is labor-intensive because you have to make sure to catch the runners to prevent the reeds from spreading again. If the reeds are old and have already spread significantly, you need to dig deep and wide. Trim the reeds as close to the ground as possible before starting. If you have a brush cutter, you can also use it to cut the reeds close to the ground.

In the next step, use a pickaxe to loosen the exposed, superficial roots. With the pointed side, loosen the soil extensively and push the loosened earth aside to reach the roots more easily. Cut the exposed roots with the pickaxe or a spade. Remove the visible root pieces as best as you can.

Now it’s time for the actual excavation, which can be a physical challenge. Start digging out in width as far as you see roots and root remnants. Begin approximately from the center of the plant and dig down to reach the deepest central root network. Work evenly from the inside to the outside. Cut the exposed roots and remove the trimmed reed stems to have more freedom of movement. Remove loose root pieces immediately to prevent them from regrowing. Keep digging until you’ve removed every last root piece.

Forcing reeds to give up: Use a lawnmower regularly

This method requires some patience, as it takes place over an extended period. It demands less physical effort than digging out. You work on the reeds with a lawnmower or brush cutter, making them eventually give up. With a regular drastic cut, the reeds essentially run out of energy. When cut close to the ground, photosynthesis is no longer possible, causing the reeds to die and rot. A serrated knife or a garden tiller is suitable when the reed stems are thick. It’s best to mow every week to prevent the reeds from regrowing. Cutting them in the fall and winter, in particular, will make them freeze and deprive them of any chance to survive. The cut reed stems can absorb water and contribute to their rotting. Depending on the season and how often you cut, it may take two to six months until you get rid of the reeds. The roots will eventually decay and can be removed during pond cleaning.

Complete cleaning or refurbishing your pond

If you want to get rid of the reeds, consider a complete cleaning or refurbishment of your pond. The effort involved varies depending on the pond’s size. Here’s how to proceed:

  • Remove all decorative elements, stones, pond filters, pond pumps, and plants you want to keep from the pond.
  • Pump out the pond water and remove the pond sludge.
  • Cut the reeds and any other unwanted plants just above the ground or water surface and dispose of the plant parts.
  • Carefully excavate all roots in the shore area.
  • Remove roots, plant parts, and stones around the pond.
  • Carefully separate any remaining roots from the liner.
  • Thoroughly clean the liner.
  • Check the liner carefully for any damage.
  • Repair any potential damage.
  • Replant the desired plants and refill the pond.
  • Reinstall the pond technology and arrange the decoration.

If nothing else works: Have the reeds removed by a professional

If you can’t remove the reeds yourself because they have spread too much, only a professional can help. Hire a company to carefully remove the reeds, but be prepared for a substantial cost. Depending on your pond’s size and the extent of the reeds, the company can remove the reeds by hand using the appropriate tools or even with a digger. The cost depends on the labor time, the equipment used, and the region. It’s a good idea to get multiple quotes to ensure you’re not overpaying while getting rid of the reeds for good. The company will also handle the disposal of the reeds.


Reeds can become a nuisance in your garden pond and garden when they have spread significantly. Using a screw hook and a sturdy wooden handle, you can only remove small amounts. Digging them out is more effective but considerably more demanding. Ensure you remove all roots to prevent re-growth. An easier approach is to regularly mow down the reeds with a lawnmower, but it requires patience. Eventually, the reeds will give in. Pond cleaning, where you remove the reeds, can also be useful. If you can’t do it yourself anymore, hire a company to remove the reeds with specialized tools or a digger.”

Florian Egert

I am Florian Egert, the owner of I live with my wife and two children in Germany in a small village in the countryside.

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