Hand-pulling aquatic plants is similar to pulling weeds out of a garden. It involves removing entire plants (leaves, stems, and roots) from the area of concern and disposing of them in an area away from the shoreline. In water less than three feet deep no specialized equipment is required, although a spade, trowel, or long knife may be needed if the sediment is packed or heavy. In deeper water, hand pulling is best accomplished by divers with SCUBA equipment and mesh bags for the collection of plant fragments. Some sites may not be suitable for hand pulling such as areas where deep flocculent sediments may cause a person hand pulling to sink deeply into the sediment. Detailed description of diver hand pulling methods for milfoil removal projects.
Cutting differs from hand pulling in that plants are cut and the roots are not removed. Cutting is performed by standing on a dock or on shore and throwing a cutting tool into the water. A non-mechanical aquatic weed cutter is commercially available. Two single-sided stainless steel blades (razor sharp) forming a "V" shape are connected to a handle which is tied to a long rope. The cutter can be thrown about 20 - 30 feet into the water. As the cutter is pulled through the water, it cuts a 48-inch wide swath. Cut plants rise to the surface where they can be removed. The stainless steel blades that form the V are extremely sharp and great care must be taken with this implement. It should be stored in a secure area where children do not have access.
*Case Study from Conesus Lake in New York: "One of the Conesus Lake Association members has used a cutting device with good success for the past several years. Swimming and wading areas around the dock are clear of milfoil. The steps are as follows:
Based on several year's experience with this weed control method, the results will be acceptable if the process is repeated every other week or two. Over time the regrowth of the weeds becomes less of a challenge".
A sturdy rake makes a useful tool for removing aquatic plants. Attaching a rope to the rake allows removal of a greater area of weeds. Raking literally tears plants from the sediment, breaking some plants off and removing some roots as well. Specially designed aquatic plant rakes are available. Rakes can be equipped with floats to allow easier plant and fragment collection. The operator should pull towards the shore because a substantial weight of material can be collected in a short distance.
*Case Study from Conesus Lake in New York: "One of the Conesus Lake Association members has used a weed rake with great success for the past several years. Swimming and wading areas around the dock are clear of weeds. The process is the same that can applied to the use of any weed rake regardless of design or model. The steps are as follows:
Based on several year's experience with this weed control method--- and a process that was repeated every week or two --- this Conesus Lake member has been very pleased with the results. He reported that the growth of weeds slows down over time. This may be due to the back and forth movement of the rake".
These methods create plant fragments. It's important to remove all fragments from the water to prevent them from rerooting or drifting onshore. Plants and fragments can be composted or added directly to a garden.
Permits are required for many types of projects in lakes and streams. Check with your city or county before proceeding with your project. The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife requires a permit called an Hydraulic Project Approval for all activities taking place in the water including hand pulling, raking, and cutting of aquatic plants.
Costs will vary based on the size and location of the project. Hand-pulling costs up to $130 for the average waterfront lot for a hired commercial puller. A commercial weed cutter costs about $130 with accessories. A commercial rake costs about $95 to $125. A homemade weed rake costs about $85 (asphalt rake is about $75 and the rope costs 35-75 cents per foot).
The following list of vendors is provided for your information. It is not our intention to endorse or promote specific vendors or products and this list may not be comprehensive. Vendors who wish to be added to this list should contact us. Please contact the companies directly if you would like more information about their products.
https://www.lakemower.com (boat-mounted aquatic weed rake)
* The Conesus Lake Association, Inc. in Lakeville, New York has graciously allowed Ecology to reproduce some case studies of the use of these methods on our website. These excerpts are from "The Conesus Lake Dockside/Near-Shore Lake Weed and Algae Treatment Guide" 2002 Edition. Price $8.00.
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