How to Kill Bulrush Plants

Updated February 21, 2017

Bulrush grass commonly contributes positively to the ecosystems in which it grows. Typically growing into brushy clusters along the shores of mellow bodies of water, such as ponds, bulrush provides habitats for birds, fish, reptiles and other critters. Bulrush can, however, impede certain human activities, such as fishing, swimming and boating. Without a permit from the Department of Agriculture, bulrush can typically only be removed from private property. Remove enough bulrush to provide adequate access to the pond but avoid disturbing or completely obliterating animal habitations and fodder. Employ non-toxic removal methods and products to avoid environmental contamination.

Pry up clumps of bulrush from the banks of the water with a shovel. Pull the clumps out of the ground, by the roots, by hand.

Cut bulrush growing in the water with an aquatic weed cutter. Throw the cutter into the water on the opposite side of the bulrush, keeping a grip on the rope. Allow the blade to sink to the bottom then pull the blade slowly back towards shore, dragging and cutting the bulrush along the way. After cutting, rake the bed of the pond with a pond rake to dislodge the bulrush roots from the ground. Also use the rake to pull any loose bulrush out of the water.

Cover the areas where bulrush was pulled or cut with weed-blocking pond liner. Pond liner will block light from the ground and prevent bulrush from reappearing in the areas it was removed from. Secure a pond liner to the bed of a pond with metal stakes or by weighting it with large rocks. Rocks can also serve to conceal pond liner where it is otherwise visible.


For massive amounts of bulrush or bulrush difficult to remove with hand tools, chemical herbicide may be necessary. Use glyphosate herbicide for bulrush and apply it directly to the leaves. Although minimally toxic, skin contact, eye contact and ingestion should be avoided.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Aquatic weed cutter
  • Pond rake
  • Weed-blocking pond liner
  • Steel stakes (optional)
  • Rocks
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About the Author

Mason Howard is an artist and writer in Minneapolis. Howard's work has been published in the "Creative Quarterly Journal of Art & Design" and "New American Paintings." He has also written for art exhibition catalogs and publications. Howard's recent writing includes covering popular culture, home improvement, cooking, health and fitness. He received his Master of Fine Arts from the University of Minnesota.