Ponds and other water features in HOA residential communities help increase both property values as well as the quality of life of homeowners and their families. However, keeping ponds looking (and smelling) clean and beautiful can be cost-prohibitive for many Homeowners Associations.
Maintaining a pond in an HOA community can often times feel like an uphill battle. Especially in areas where the ponds are several years or even several decades old. Ponds (like all man-made water features) have a life cycle that begins a slow death the minute they’re filled with water.
We’re going to take a look at five different species of invasive plant life that could negatively impact the look and life of an HOA pond. To the untrained eye, these plants and algae might look like “pretty aquatic plants.” Nobody bats an eye or starts to ask questions until the pond starts becoming infested with weeds and suffers from smelly, unsightly algae outbreaks.
Hydrilla plants are a nuisance species native to Asia. A small batch was brought to Florida in the late 1950’s, and the infestation took hold and spread north and westward into almost every single state in America.
Hydrilla is hardy (meaning it can survive in difficult conditions that would kill other plant life), fast-growing, and costly to remove. This is why early detection is the best course of treatment.
In addition to manual removal of Hydrilla, grass carp can be added to the pond along with spot treatments from various herbicides.
Duckweed is another nuisance plant that can proliferate and kill a pond in a matter of weeks or months. It resides on the surface of the water and looks like a thick mat of vegetative matter. Not only can it choke the life out of a pond by killing all of the fish, but it can also reproduce so fast that it will cover the entire surface of a pond in a matter of a few weeks.
Grass carp can be added to the water to help control the infestation along with spot treatments of herbicides. You can also discourage duckweed from growing by installing an aerator system or fountain which will increase water movement.
This invasive species was introduced to waters in the Great Lakes region in the early 1800’s. Like most wildlife management practices of the day, things got out of control quickly, and the weed started to spread to other bodies of water like wildfire.
Curly-leaf pondweed specializes in thriving in low-lit, nutrient-rich waters. It can outcompete native species and lead to a decline in both water quality and oxygen levels. What makes this invasive species so dangerous is that it can hitch a ride on fishing equipment, boats, and animals and take hold in an entirely new water environment.
Grass carp and other herbivore fish species can help keep pondweed in check. Herbicides and a comprehensive management plan to reduce nutrient levels in the pond will help keep this pest under control.
Giant Salvinia is native to South America and has infested almost every single state in America. It’s a free-floating plant that resides on the surface of the water and can quickly grow and out-compete native plant and animal life.
Its insatiable desire for oxygen can dramatically lower o2 levels of a pond and start it on a fast-downward spiral. This plant can quickly be spread to other ponds by a fragment of a leaf getting stuck on an animal, human, or boat/fishing gear.
Our friend, the grass carp, is no match for this invasive plant. The best way to control it is early detection and a treatment plan of herbicides.
Phragmites can often be mistaken as a natural reed. It’s not until the infestation is out of control do HOA managers realize the severity of the outbreak. If left untreated it can reach up to 16 feet in height and become extremely challenging (and costly) to remove from a pond.
This plant is hazardous because it uses a form of chemical warfare. It has an extensive root system that secretes a chemical into the soil which prevents other plant life from growing.
Pond Dredging for HOA Communities
The best and most cost-effective way of performing HOA pond maintenance is to have them dredged at least once a year. Dredging removes the bottom nutrients which allow invasive and nuisance plant life to thrive.
By performing regular dredging on your HOA ponds, you won’t have to spend thousands of dollars every year on potentially harmful herbicides and water treatment plans.
If you manage an HOA community and have any questions about your ponds, give us a call at (866) 594-1272. At American Underwater Services, we have over 20 years of experience in helping HOA’s dredge their ponds which in turn will help prevent outbreaks of nuisance plant life.
Hydrilla (Waterthyme or hydrilla) is a genus of aquatic plant, usually treated as containing just one species, Hydrilla verticillata, though some botanists divide it into several species. It is native to the cool and warm waters of the Old World in Asia, Africa and Australia, with a sparse, scattered distribution; in Australia from Northern Territory, Queensland, and New South Wales.
Duckweed, or water lens, are flowering aquatic plants which float on or just beneath the surface of still or slow-moving bodies of fresh water and wetlands. Also known as “bayroot”, they arose from within the arum or aroid family (Araceae), so often are classified as the subfamily Lemnoideae within the Araceae. Other classifications, particularly those created prior to the end of the 20th century, place them as a separate family, Lemnaceae.
Curly-leaf pondweed is a rhizomatous perennial herb producing a flattened, branching stem up to a meter long. The leaves are linear or oblong in shape. Only submerged leaves are produced, which are sessile, linear or oblong in shape, 25–95 mm long and 5–12 mm wide. The leaves may be bright green, olive green or (especially later in the season) brownish and have noticeably serrated margins, a feature that distinguishes them from other pondweeds. The leaves usually have wavy edges but this is not always apparent, especially on new growth. Turions occur in leaf axils and at stem tips.
Salvinia molesta, commonly known as giant salvinia, or as kariba weed after it infested a large portion of Lake Kariba, is an aquatic fern, native to south-eastern Brazil. It is a free floating plant that does not attach to the soil, but instead remains buoyant on the surface of a body of water. It is a complex of closely related floating ferns; they can be difficult to distinguish from each other. This water fern is often grown as an ornamental plant but has escaped and become a noxious pest in many regions worldwide. There are a few different growth forms for Salvinia molesta. The primary growth form is an invading form with small flat leaves to the tertiary or mat form with large, crowded, folded leaves. Under the best conditions plants can form a two-foot-thick mat. These mats can put a halt to recreational activities on lakes and waterways. Salvinia molesta has been used to extract nutrients and pollutants from the water. When this plant is dried out, it is used as satisfactory mulch.
Phragmites is a genus of four species of large perennial grasses found in wetlands throughout temperate and tropical regions of the world.
Reed is a common name for several tall, grass-like plants of wetlands.
Dredging is the operation of removing material from one part of the water environment and relocating it to another. In all but a few situations the excavation is undertaken by specialist floating plant, known as a dredger. Dredging is carried out in many different locations and for many different purposes, but the main objectives are usually to recover material that has some value or use, or to create a greater depth of water.