My house has a drainage ditch running in front next to the street. Unfortunately, my next door neighbor has neglected his ditch and now my ditch does not drain properly and fills up with algae. I'm working with the city to have this resolved, however in the meantime...

Are there any plants or other non-chemical methods for controlling the algae in the ditch? Are there any methods for helping the water evaporate faster? Perhaps changing the slopes of the ditch?

I'm not looking for something like fish because there's not enough to support them, but even during summer there's a decent amount of water in the bottom (I live along the Texas Gulf coast so there's a decent amount of rain year-round).

2 Answers 2


Throw some bales of barley straw into the water. Barley straw is often used to control algae in fish/garden ponds. I've had pretty good luck using it in my pond. I hear that when the barley decomposes it releases/creates hydrogen peroxide and kills the algae.

Another thing you might try is adding snails and/or tadpoles to the water. They'll eat the algae (and the tadpoles will eat mosquito larvae too.) Adding a few goldfish wouldn't be out of the question either.

Water Hyacinth, Water Lilies, and Lotus are all good plants that will prevent algae from growing by limiting the amount of sunlight that can penetrate the surface of the water. Elodea is an underwater plant that will eat up all the nutrients that the algae need to survive.

The plants are going to set you back quite a few bucks, but the "critters" are pretty cheap. I think you can buy goldfish for fifteen cents each or something like that.

You could go all-out and pick up the plants and critters at the same time and make the ditch into a water garden....but that's a whole other thing.


First, what's wrong with algae? Other than the visual, it won't hurt you. Some cultures actually harvest and eat it. I have ditch next to my house with some algae. It's home to a toad family. I have a couple solutions for you. The best is to fix the ditch pitch so water doesn't collect. If you have a plethora of green stuff, try switching to a lower nitrogen fertilizer. Contrary to what Scott's tells you, these are better for the lawn because it forces the grass to grow deeper roots instead of surface feeding making it more burnout prone in hot weather. Switching fertilizer won't eliminate the problem but it may reduce it.

My first choice is to fix the pitch as I said above. You can also widen the ditch so the water is spread over a larger area which will add in evaporation. Sounds like a lot of work. Just fix the pitch.

If the water is always present, the last natural solution is add a gold fish or two. They will eat the algae.

I know you don't want chemicals, but even an organic thing (like an organic apple) is a chemical, so don't be duped into thinking all chemicals are bad. The least obnoxious chemical solution is Roundup which has been getting bad press recently. Don't get the fast acting stuff. It contains herbicides and other bad stuff. Buy straight old fashioned Roundup. (Only Glyphosate and inert ingredients period.) It will kill anything green in a few days by stopping magnesium process in the plant. Its not a traditional herbicide and is environmentally friendly (breaks down in sunlight, is eaten by bacteria in the ground and is broken down long before it hits the water table. It is almost nontoxic to mammals.) of the chemicals. If you have a local beekeeper they will probably jump on you. I'm a beekeeper and read extensively about Roundup. When properly used, it has its place but that's another blog post! I wouldn't hesitate to use original Roundup. Start slow and be patient it takes many days before you see the effects. Multiple smaller doses is better than one huge concentrated one.

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