Natural Shore Technologies |  612-703-7581 
July Article
Help! My Pond is Turning Green!
Ponds are simply incredible aquatic ecosystems. They are amazing water features that often highlight residential communities and homeowner's properties.  Ponds increase biological diversity. They support a wide variety of aquatic plants and attract a plethora of birds, beneficial insect species, frogs, turtles, and even fish. Because of their ecological benefits and their beauty, ponds increase property values.

Especially during the dog  days of summer, we often run into people that are concerned about their local ponds turning green. What is that green film or scum on the water surface? It looks pretty horrible! What causes this? Can we do anything about it? Are there environmentally friendly approaches?

The two most common types of plant growth on ponds that we see are either filamentous algae or duckweed. These plants take nutrients directly from the water and enjoy warm  temperatures and a lot of sun. This is why they really take off and flourish this time of year.
Often times, excess nutrients, especially
phosphorus, can fuel blooms of filamentous algae and duckweed in pond systems. Nutrient sources and dynamics in ponds and their watersheds can get pretty complicated. However, there are simple steps that you can take that will help to reduce nutrient inputs. Infiltrating rain water before it runs off into your pond will reduce nutrient inputs. Consider reducing the amount of fertilizer that you use on your landscape. A portion of this fertilizer will find its way into your pond. Creating a natural buffer around the pond will help to trap and filter water runoff, which will reduce nutrient inputs. Natural buffers are also excellent habitat for wildlife and pollinators, and look amazing.

OK so what can you do now to reduce the existing algae and duckweed currently in your pond? Well, the traditional approach has been to use herbicides to kill the algae and duckweed. This is certainly effective, but it can be thought of as a quick fix, and doesn't really help in improving the pond ecosystem. The nutrients in the dying plant material gets recycled back into the pond ecosystem.

Harvesting the algae and duckweed is environmentally friendly and actually pulls nutrients out of the pond system.  If the pond is small enough and the majority of the surface water can be reached from shore, an algae/weed rake can be a very useful tool in manually removing the plants.  This strategy will usually require multiple harvesting efforts in order to be successful.  At Natural Shore, we have been experimenting with a floating skimmer setup that collects and pumps the surface layer of duckweed off of ponds. This can be used in larger pond systems where rakes are just not feasible. Both of these approaches eliminates the need for chemicals and has a long-term benefit of pulling nutrients out of pond ecosystems.

In combination, natural buffers, judicious use of fertilizers, and plant harvesting can work to reduce nutrients in pond systems. Ponds are exceptional aquatic ecosystems and should be managed with care. We are here to help. If you are interested in creating a pond buffer composed of a diversity of native plants, please call our design experts at 612-703-7581.

Native Plant of the Month
Vernonia fasciculata

Moisture: Wet or Moist
Exposure:  Full Sun or Partial Shade 
Blooms: July-September
Color: Purple
Height: 3-6 Feet
Ironweed is a tall, stout plant with smooth stems that are red or purple.  This plant is found in clumps and has flat-topped flower heads of rose-purple disk florets. Ironweed's deep rootstock makes this plant an excellent one to use in erosion control.  It thrives in full sun in moist to wet soil.  It can also grow on heavy, silty or clay soils.  This plant also tolerates part sun and occasional or seasonal flooding.  It is a great source of pollen and nectar for bees and butterflies.  Other common names are smooth ironweed, common ironweed, western ironweed, and prairie ironweed.
Invasive Plant of the Month
Bull Thistle
Cirsium vulgare

Moisture: Dry
Exposure:  Full Sun 
Blooms: June-October
Color: Purple
Height: 2-6 Feet

Bull thistle is a biennial from Europe meaning it forms a rosette of basal leaves in its first year  and will develop a stem with flowers its second year. Flowers, stems, and leaves all have spines that can make it a difficult plant to hand pull. It has purple flowers that are about 2 inches across which develop into seeds with fluff that gets carried away in the wind. Bull thistle has deep taproots that can make it difficult to pull as well. Herbicide or hand pulling are good management strategies. 

Native plant alternatives include Hoary Vervain and Pale Purple Coneflower
Pollinator of the Month
Mason Wasp
Ancistrocerus adiabatus

Range : Throughout Canada and United States
Identification  A small black wasp with dark wings and yellow markings on its face, yellow bands around its body, and a yellow "face" on its back. 
Pollination: Mason wasps visit many different flowering native plants for food including Bergamot, Rattlesnake Master, Joe Pye Weed, Goldenrod species and more. 
July 2017 Issue
Our Company
Retail Nursery News
Come visit us!
 Check out our 2017 retail hours below:

10 am - 4 pm only on the following days:

July 20 July 22
Aug. 17
Aug. 19

Our retail nursery address is:
1480 County Rd. 90  Independence MN 55359

Have any questions? Contact our greenhouse manager Jill at

Click and visit our website for current
Photo Caption Contest
    June/July Photo Caption Contest!
This time of year our crews see a lot of turtle crossings. Some are more grateful for our help then others...caption this photo of Bill rescuing a snapping turtle* and you could win!

Like our Facebook Page  Here and then add your caption to this photo and you could win!

Winner receives a $25 Gift Certificate for Native Plants! 

* Click here to visit a link that describes the proper way to handle snapping turtles
Minnnesota Native Plant Brand ensures that plant species are native to Minnesota. 
5 Plants For...
Moist Soils!

Need plants for that low area in your restoration that is wet but not saturated? Have a spot in your rain garden you want to fill in? Consider these plants that like to live in moist conditions.

1. New England Aster
Aster novae-angliae

2. Bottle Gentian 
Gentiana andrewsii

3. Cardinal Flower
Lobelia cardinalis

4. Mountain Mint
Pycnanthemum virginianum

5. Obedient Plant
Physostegia virginiana

 Want to learn more about these native plants? Click Here to visit our website!