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Barley Straw For Algae Control

Updated on June 2, 2011

Barley Straw For Algae Control

Using Barley Straw for algae control is often the easy way out of a potentially difficult problem. It is certainly well worth trying before one moves on to more expensive solutions or those which involve the use of chemicals.

Though Barley Straw is the first choice there are other plant parts which will sometimes (but not always) work too. These include Maize and Wheat Straw and some others. The key here is 'straw' and not hay which is a different product altogether. Barley Straw remains the most effective, lasts longer and should be the straw of first choice.

The Barley Straw should be placed loosely packed in an open weave net which must be allowed to float upon the surface of the pool or pond in which the algae is a problem. Some sort of buoyancy aid may be required to keep the net floating. This should be located where there is movement of water. For instance close to a fountain or where water is entering the pond. If there is no water movement then it is doubtful that the Barley Straw method will work.

I newly filled ponds and pools where algae bloom has been shown to be a recurring problem it is better to place the Barley Straw into the pond when it is first filled rather than waiting for the algae to arrive before first taking action.

The algae is killed off and controlled by a chemical reaction caused by the breakdown of the Barley Straw in the water. Acids released by the decaying Barley Straw react with sunlight and so produce a weak solution of Hydrogen Peroxide. Water movement is then essential to push this through the pool from the floating suspension rather than allowing it to rot in the bottom of the pool.

Sunlight, water temperature and water movement are all critical to make the treatment of algae with Barley Straw effective.

An Algae Pond


The Barley Straw solution does not work every time and indeed does not work at all on every type of algae. Neither is it quick working and will take on average six weeks before a real difference is seen. Once it is clear it should continue to keep the algae under control.

It is best to add the replacement Barley Straw 'filter' a few weeks before the old one is removed and build up a cycle of water maintenance. Determining of when the Barley Straw needs to be replaced will be influenced by the environmental conditions. It is the chemicals released into the water by the rotting down straw which do the work. Generally there will be very little Barley Straw to remove as it rots down almost completely as it works.

Algae Spring


The use of Barley Straw to control algae has not shown it to be detrimental to fish or plant life. This, along with the fact that it is very cheap and environmentally friendly make it the first choice.

As a rough gauge as to how much Barley Straw is needed to treat a pond work on one ounce for every ten square feet of water surface area.


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  • Peter Dickinson profile image

    Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia

    Hello, hello, - and thank you for stopping by. Hoping you are feeling well.

  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

    Thank you for such a good tip.