Aquatic plants supply food, shelter and oxygen for the fish and other aquatic life that share their environment. Pretty important stuff. So, logically, the more plants in the pond the better, right? Well, sort of.
While native aquatic plants are certainly a good thing, there’s a growing contingent of non-native interlopers in these parts. At least 10 species in The Woodlands water bodies appear on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s prohibited species list. These invasive species are illegal to sell, distribute, import, possess, or introduce into Texas waters.
The problem starts with the unfair advantage that non-native invasive plants enjoy: fewer natural controls than their native counterparts. This allows them to spread easily and choke out the natives. And as native plants disappear, so do many of our native fish species and other life who simply can’t adapt.
These invasives don’t need any help. Yet, we give them plenty by turbocharging their growth with lawn chemicals. Rain and irrigation readily carry chemicals from lawn to storm drain to local waterway. There they fertilize aquatic plants just as they do your grass. All the excessive growth that results eventually dies and decomposes, consuming oxygen in the process – A LOT of it. So much in fact that oxygen-depleted dead zones result – not good if you’re an aquatic organism. If you’ve ever seen fish floating at the top of a pond, particularly in the summer, this is a likely reason.
In short, invasive aquatic plants bring a slew of bad news.
BUT there’s good news, too! With a couple of simple steps, you can help turn the tide. In fact, more and more residents across The Woodlands are doing exactly that.
Step 1 – Remove all non-native plants from your landscape. Even if they aren’t an aquatic species, they still risk escaping into natural areas. Remember, plants don’t have to grow their way to new areas; seeds are great at dispersing by wind or bird.
Step 2 – Reduce, or even better, eliminate chemical use in your yard. Substitute organic products in their place. Did you know organic compost is probably the single best amendment for your yard?
Support your local fish populations, and all the other critters that depend on clean, healthy water. Remember to: Remove, Plant, Repeat! Remove invasive species, plant natives and repeat the process.
Learn more during Watershed Project: Aquatic Invasive Species, an online workshop scheduled for June 5, 2021, from 9 to 11 a.m. The workshop is FREE, but registration is required. Click the button below to register.