Physical Control Considerations

A surprising variety of physical control methods are employed by aquatic plant managers throughout Florida. Physically manipulating invasive aquatic plants and their environment can help gain control over some of the worst of these species. This method is referred to as physical, and sometimes cultural, control.

Although large scale physical control techniques are generally labor intensive, costly, and can produce unexpected results, simple methods such as hand-pulling can sometimes make a big difference.* Invasive plants can also be successfully controlled by more complex environmental alterations such as water level manipulation, dredging, light barriers and dyes, bottom barriers, nutrient alteration, aeration and prescribed fire.

Considerations for each method include cost, water quality, effectiveness and duration of removal, water uses, type, depth and size of the waterbody (fast-moving springs or slow-moving rivers), selectivity of method (will it harm desirable plants or animals?), immediacy of results, and environmental disruption.

Like all plant management techniques, physical controls can be costly and energy-intensive tools to use in the fight to combat the non-native aquatic plant populations that are infesting Florida's lakes, rivers and wetlands.

Preventing the introduction and spread of non-native plants in Florida's waterways is the most effective and least expensive means of protecting Florida's freshwater habitats. Public cooperation is an essential part of this process.

*Prior to undertaking such an effort, however, it is wise to thoroughly understand your vegetative adversary. For example, volunteers pulled tons of hydrilla from Wakulla Springs State Park for over a year with the result that more hydrilla existed in the river after the project. 

Last updated: 28 November 2011