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Horsetail weeds

<span style="font-size: 12px; line-height: 16px; background-color: #f2f2f2;">Hi We moved into our house 3 years ago and have been modernising it. We are now in the process of completely landscaping our semi-detached corner plot garden. The house was build in 1935 and so the garden is very matured. Unfortunately the garden is (we think) below the water table and is very wet in areas and doesn't drain off and the lawn never drys off in areas even on hot days. We have decided to completely strip the garden and lay drains and remodel the garden and lawn. One problem we have it Horsetail weed, at the moment we have a digger and it is moving and levelling off the lawn to relay and lay a patio. My question is while the earth is up and being turned over what chemical can we use to help to get rid of this pesky weed. Please help regards Chris



  • Hi Chris

    This problem was featured in gardeners march magazine. There are no chemical controls for the horse tails. Only thing i have tried with some success was laying landscaping fabric down. But it you have a use of a digger you need to get as much out as possible by hand including the roots. 

  • Chris9Chris9 Posts: 92


    thanks for your response, we did lay some fabric down but it so strong it even grew through a tarmac path that the orginal owners have laid.  The problem is that it is so damp but with this drainage we are laying, we are taking out about 5 tons of soil to level the garden off it is very which damp not good at all, hopefully this will take out a great deal of roots and with some new fresh top soil we may have a chance to keep it at bay.  Thanks again for you response.

    regards Chris

  • TaskerTasker Posts: 29

    Good luck Chris

    This pesky weed grows like wildfire, I remember my grandfather cursing it and now i do the same. Regular hoeing helps in flower beds, but without serious chemical blitzing, im afraid it's here to stay in my garden.  

  • Hi Chris,

    If you have damp boggy shade, try growing Wasabi as suggested by James Wong. Depending on how you wish to use the garden, you could put decking boardwalks in and plants bog plants, making a feature of it's natural environment.  It would make for a different and interesting garden.  I too have horsetail and constant digging in the veg patch deters it but the front garden is overrun.  I plan to grow a ground cover of Alcemellia Mollis as it has such thick root balls, to hopefully fend it off.

  • Hi

    I had been plagued by horsetail for the last 10 years - infested the entire garden. The guy that treats my lawn put me onto a herbicide called Relay Turf. I treated all of the horsetails clumps (literally hundreds of them) last summer - and I'm pleased to say that not a single one has returned. Relay Turf isnt cheap - I think it cost about £70 ordered online - but worth every penny as far as I'm concerned. Hope this helps.


  • hi chris, i found roundup worked but you pull the plant gently through your fingers before spraying, i was told that by a nieghbor and it worked, i don,t understand why.

  • Gold1locksGold1locks Posts: 498

    I agree with Patsy. Glyphosate will get rid of it, provided you regard it as a three year project, and check for any new growth weekly during the growing season. It's rather like the alternative treatment, which is to pull the stuff out as soon as it appears, weekly, but more effective. 

    Mare's Tail is a bit like bindweed in that it has an extensive root system that stores energy. This energy is used to send up new shoots. You need to kill the root system by exhausting it, and that means denying it any opportunity for photosynthesis. If it receives sunlight it creates new energy (glucose - which turns to starch) and whisks it down into the root system and out of reach.  So you can't let any of it escape your attention for any amount of time. the advantage of glyphosate over pulling by hand is that the plant draws the glyphosate down into the root system, maybe for 12" - 18" before it is used up, so new growth has to be pushed up a longer distance before it gets to the top (and to daylight!). 

    If you don't keep 100% on top of it, it will defeat the glyphosate, which is why so many gardeners say that glyphosate doesn't work on Mare's Tail, Bindweed, Bear's Breeches and other weeds with deep energy storing root systems. But if you are relentless in your pursuit of it, scouring the ground for any new growth and zapping it right away, you should be able to get rid of it. Unless you are like one poor soul whose Mare's Tail is coming across from his next door neighbour's infested garden! 

  • Dan2Dan2 Posts: 4

    im getting round up gel, would you recommended treating each head and leaving to wither and die Rather that picking? 

  • Gold1locksGold1locks Posts: 498

    Do not remove dying stems. And bruise each stem after applying the gel. Use rubber gloves, and work backwards so you don't stand on any treated weed and spread the glyphosate.

  • Horsetail orginated from wetlands and swamps and over the years has managed to do well outside.

    I moved into a bungalow 2 years ago and it was everywhere. The previous owner had tried covering it with slabs. Covering this stuff is a really bad idea because it then spreads its root system even more. It loves the dark too!

    I built an extension to my house and excavated for the footings. The root system of horsetail went down as far as 1 metre, 4 ft in some places!

    The first year I used Kurtail gold and it has almost eradicated it. I did lose the odd plant however, since horsetail will do its best to hide. Not used Relay Turf; sounds like an alternative.

    Horsetail has a waxy coat, so hitting it with normal weed killer will not work. Unless you pinch the plant first apparently but that’s very time consuming.

    If you pick the plant as suggested remember that each stem contains multiple plants. Discard of them in a sealed plastic bag. Never throw them in your gardening bin.

    As one early person commented, be more persistent than the pest plant and you might just win. Otherwise, moving house may be realistic. Although you legally should mention it to the new owner.
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