Reedbed query

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Thurston Garden
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Reedbed query

Post: #267116 Thurston Garden
Sun Oct 07, 2012 12:06 pm

My reedbed is now 18 months old. It's for the grey water from the house only. It's planted up with Typha Latifolia - bull rushes, the ones with the fuzzy thing on the top.

When I planted it out, it was single stem plants and these are now spreading well. This time last year, they were only a couple of feet high and I decided to let them die back naturally.

In the spring, new green shoots emerged and the plants are now quite established - some are 6ft tall.

I am not sure whether to cut them back this year - they are beginning to die back and I am worried that there will be loads of dead growth which might hamper next years new growth or will fall over and decompose in the reedbed which probably is not good.

Any ideas would be appreciated. Google so far has been of little help.

Ta.
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Re: Reedbed query

Post: #267163 marshlander
Sun Oct 07, 2012 10:48 pm

I'm not sure if this is practical if you have a large area - this is from a pond maint' prospective.

Quote; Pruning
Remove dead, faded, or damaged leaves, stems, and flowers as needed
Cut dormant plants back to prevent dead parts from settling into the water and creating a nasty mess later
http://www.learn2grow.com/plants/typha- ... intenance/

Whoa! Found it....
Maintenance and Replacement of the system

Reed bed systems are not low maintenance and a regular maintenance programme is required to keep them working properly. The reed beds that work are usually those whose owners love gardening, do not have a big enough garden to keep themselves occupied and are not worried by coming into contact with faecal bacteria, spiders, Grass Snakes (they love reedbeds), mice, rats and their associated diseases. The 'gardeners' will also require several injections every year against leptospirosis, Hepatitis, etc. so fear of needles is also a nuisance.

Points to consider:

The flow through the bed is even and regulated using balancing tanks and pumps if necessary.
Reed growth is always vigorous, even, and that any gaps are quickly re-planted.
Weeds are removed as quickly as possible and the bare patch re-planted with reeds
Dead reeds should be harvested and composted every October to prevent them from rotting onto the surface of the bed and clogging it. It also promotes healthy new reed growth in the Spring.
Any preferential pathways created by the flow of effluent are disrupted by digging up the bed and an even flow is re-established over the entire area.
During very cold weather, such as that experienced in the winters of 2010/2011, reed beds can freeze solid and alternative arrangements must be made for foul drainage and sanitation. This is a new situation in the UK as we have not experienced this type of arctic weather since reed beds were invented.
The 'Gardener' of the bed invariably comes into contact with some very nasty bacteria and viruses, so it is vital that vaccinations against Diphtheria, Typhoid, Tetanus, Polio, Leptospirosis and Hepatitis are kept rigorously up to date.
The reed bed area is fenced to prevent children and animals coming into contact with the sewage water. Any fencing issues must be rectified as soon as possible.
Weedkiller spray must never be allowed to drift onto the bed.
Any clogged areas of gravel must be removed, new gravel installed and the section re-planted.
Reed beds tend to attract rodents, particularly in the winter, so unless you like rats and mice, you may want to consider some kind of pest control system.
Grass Snakes tend to be abundant in reedbeds, making their nests, laying their eggs and hibernating in the dense bottom vegetation. They are completely harmless however.
The septic tank must be emptied on a regular basis - at least annually.
Most of the clogging problems occur at the inlet and outlet end of the bed. If the blockage is at the inlet end, then the septic tank or sewage plant can 'back-up' and prevent use of the foul drainage system. If it is at the outlet end, then the reed-bed will flood and can overflow. http://www.wte-ltd.co.uk/reed_bed_sewage_treatment.html
Terri x
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Re: Reedbed query

Post: #267181 GeorgeSalt
Mon Oct 08, 2012 8:59 am

I would go with cutting and removing the dead stems, leaving them over winter is only going to add to the bioload of the filter as they collapse and rot. I have several large pots of reedmace in my pond, I usually cut them back to 3-4" above the water level, leaving a short hollow stem as an overwintering habitat for insects.

If you are lucky enough to have grass snakes, leave the cut reads laid flat in a heap in a quiet corner of the garden. Even if you don't, something may use them to hibernate.
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Re: Reedbed query

Post: #267238 Thurston Garden
Tue Oct 09, 2012 8:23 am

Thanks for the comments - I had read that maintenance note too but was not 100% it applied to Typha. Gut feel says cut them down and I agree with both of you that this is what should be done. Just needed a little bit of confidence that I was on the right track!

I doubt there will be any snakes though, the reeds are not that well established - I can still walk though between them to weed. Here's a photo of the reedbed after being planted in May last year:

Image

One taken in September last year:

Image

I shall try and take before and after photos when I cut them back.
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Re: Reedbed query

Post: #267244 GeorgeSalt
Tue Oct 09, 2012 9:05 am

That's a nice looking reedbed, are you only planting with Typha latifolia or will you be introducing other reedbed species? I don't have much practical experience with reedbeds for effluent treatment, but some irises and marsh marigold would look nice amongst the reedmace. My pond is rather small in comparison, and I use Typha minima as a living filter.


A hint of what you're missing ;)

Image

I don't know if it's a particularly good year for grass snakes, or whether it's just that this year I've learnmed where to look, but I'm seeing a lot of them in my favourite local stretch of woodland this Autumn.
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Re: Reedbed query

Post: #267255 Thurston Garden
Tue Oct 09, 2012 10:02 am

There is only Typha in the bed - ultimately this is what was spec'd and passed by the council and SEPA. I would though like to introduce a little colour around the margins so your suggestions are helpful.

Nice snake! Maybe once my bed is further established I might get some. It does get full sun so I imagine it will be ideal habitat for them once there's a bit more cover.
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Re: Reedbed query

Post: #267297 marshlander
Tue Oct 09, 2012 5:10 pm

And a pic of your house now too please.
Terri x
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Re: Reedbed query

Post: #267328 Thurston Garden
Wed Oct 10, 2012 9:44 am

Here you go! Taken in November last year. I moved in a month later but it's still not finished :lol:

Image
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Re: Reedbed query

Post: #267330 marshlander
Wed Oct 10, 2012 11:21 am

fantastic!
Terri x
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Re: Reedbed query

Post: #267332 Thurston Garden
Wed Oct 10, 2012 12:05 pm

Ta! There's other photos in the Green Building section I think.
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