Common Problems Affecting Pond Function: Invasive Species

Invasive plants like cattails and phragmites can make your neighborhood detention pond less effective at managing stormwater.

What are invasive plants?

While inspecting your stormwater detention pond, you may come across invasive plants crowding the area. Invasive plants are non-native plants that are introduced into the environment and often harm the local ecosystem.  

What’s the issue?

When invasive species find their way into stormwater detention ponds, they can inhibit stormwater pond function. Invasive plants like giant reed/phragmites, cattails and reed canary grass can fill in a detention pond by trapping sediment. As detention basins are filled in they can no longer provide the same amount of flood storage capacity as they were designed to hold.

These invasive species also crowd out native vegetation around the detention pond and block views of the water. They also detract from the aesthetic view that a well-maintained detention basin can provide to a community.

Detention basin filled in with cattails
Invasive plants grow aggressively. These cattails filled in an entire stormwater detention pond!

What does it look like?

If any invasive plant species are found while inspecting your detention pond, steps should be taken to remove these invasive plants to prevent them from overtaking beneficial native plants. The most common invasive plants near stormwater detention ponds include giant reed/phragmites, cattails, and reed canary grass.

Phragmite seed heads
Mass of reed canary grass
Reed canary grass

What should be done about invasive plants?

Invasive plants are aggressive and can pose a threat to the ecosystem around stormwater detention ponds. If invasive species are abundant, a professional ecological management company or landscaper can be consulted to remove them from the landscape.

Removal of invasive species will create space for deep-rooted native species. Native plants, as opposed to invasive species, maintain the condition and function of a detention pond. Native plants help stabilize the shoreline and filter out pollutants while increasing the aesthetic value of the area around your stormwater pond.

Native flowers in bloom around detention pond
Attractive and beneficial native plants can be planted to replace invasive species.

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