A Defra representative said: "At this time of year gardeners are clearing ponds ready for winter and we want to drum in the message about unwanted pond waste and remind people they should still be careful about dumping it to stop invasive species spreading."
Defra is asking garden centres and growers to tell customers that they should compost unwanted plants properly dispose carefully of waste pond water away from streams, rivers, ponds or lakes to help protect the environment and save the nation money.
Environment Minister Richard Benyon said: "It’s important we raise awareness and encourage pond owners to be more plant wise at this time of year when they are starting to think about tidying their ponds. Many retailers are already taking steps to ensure people know what they’re buying and advising customers on how to dispose of unwanted pond waste properly.
He cited plants such as floating pennywort, New Zealand pigmyweed, water-primrose, parrot’s feather and water fern as the worst, adding that the Environment Agency spent £510,260 on controlling 300 km of floating pennywort in 2009.
Pond owners are advised to:
- Compost with care – make sure you dispose of the whole plant properly and no fragments break away; dispose of waste pond and fish tank water away from streams, rivers, ponds or lakes;
- Stop the spread – be careful not to introduce invasive species into the wild, even accidentally, as you could be breaking the law; and
- Know what you grow – pick the right plants for your pond and manage them carefully. Choose non-invasive species where possible.