It depends! This is a question that doesn’t have a straightforward answer. If your pond is a koi pond/water garden with a rubber liner, then the answer is probably not. While broadleaf cattails (Typha latifolia) are a native species to North America, they would not be good to have in any water garden in our opinion. They can grow over 5ft tall and spread very aggressively, quickly taking over small backyard ponds. However, there are dwarf species of cattails that would be appropriate for water gardens since they only reach about 12-18in tall. They do tend to have the same aggressive spreading tendencies so if you don’t want to prune them back annually, we recommend keeping them in a container.
On natural or earthen bottom ponds cattails can pose some of the same issues. They can block views, dominate other more desirable native wetland plant species, and quickly take over shallow ponds. But if you are vigilant about maintaining your pond, then a small stand of cattails here and there can be beneficial habitat, protect against shoreline erosion, filter out nutrients, and add some contrasting height to the vegetated shoreline. We recommend removing the seed heads in early fall before they spread, cutting the dead stalks in late fall, and spot herbiciding or hand pulling new growth in areas you don’t want them. Cattzilla is an excellent product to mix in with your herbicide to speed up the decomposition of any sprayed cattails.
If you aren’t willing to dedicate the time and effort to properly maintain cattails on your pond, then most of the time it’s best to try and eradicate them entirely. There are plenty of more desirable wetland species to plant around shorelines that will be much easier to maintain. Contact us if you need any help eradicating any unwanted plants such as cattails or if you’d like to install more native plants around your pond!