Algae and Lichens
Waterworks NW (503) 844-6788

What is Algae


algaeMost algae lives in water, however, there are a few species that live on land. These are the species that homeowners need to be aware of. This type of algae is a single cell which contains chlorophyll and has the ability to create its own food through photosynthesis. In the Oregon weather, this algae can spread rapidly as the moist and moderate temperatures provide the perfect home. As one tiny cell starts the chain of events, by the time a human eye can see the algae, it has already taken over with millions of algae cells. Algae also reproduces at a quick pace; each cell divides and produces two more cells. One would think that providing a dry time, such as summer, that these cells would die. Unfortunately, they can lie dormant for a long period of time.


Algae & Lichens

Lichens are unique in that they are not a single organism; they are a combination of algae and fungi. They are perfect companions as algae produces the food for both organisms and the fungi provides the water and proper cover for them to survive. You might find lichens on rocks, on your soil, on trees and shrubs. Some of the most common colors of lichens are white, yellow, and green. Lichens can present themselves as leaf-like or as more hairy structures hanging from trees. Lichens are another perfect species for Oregon as the proper environment is available here for them to reproduce. They can also get out of hand as they are able to lie dormant for long periods of time and begin to reproduce as conditions change.


How to control Algae

Often times, homeowners will use lichens as yard decorations as they look beautiful and do not harm those plants they live on since they produce their own food. For those homeowners who do not want these growths on their yard, they may opt to control them. It is best to apply a registered pesticide on the algae or lichens when they are actively growing – as in the winter. Just be certain that the plant you are trying to control is listed on the label of the pesticide. Make sure that the weather is favorable for a few days as rain could rinse off the pesticide and hinder your efforts for controlling the lichens and algae. After being treated, the weather will eventually dry them and they will die.


Algae and the unique sustainable micro climate in the Northwest

Ultimately homeowners will have to decide whether or not the amount of algae and lichen growing in their own little micro climate is suitable to sustain a healthy productive living space. While certain chemicals might help to control moss or algae that might be out of control, it’s best to find natural alternatives such as pruning to let in more natural sunlight. More and more people are learning to live with algae and enjoy the benefits of algae in landscape use.