How do you manage a garden with horsetail. I have a large lawn and flower beds. I want to create vegetable patches but am concerned that it will be taken over by this horrible horsetail weed! Any advice would be appreciated.


(North Yorkshire)



  • Dave MorganDave Morgan Posts: 3,122

    I think this has come up before and as I remember the collected wisdom amounted to a regime of spraying with glysophate and digging up the roots. So dig first and spray when the marestail emerges and is actively growing. Luckily I don't have any problem with this particular weed.

  • punkdocpunkdoc Posts: 5,200

    Horsetail is a born survivor, having been around since the dinosaurs. It contains a lot of silica in its stems, which makes it difficult for weedkillers to penetrate. The trick is to damage the stems and then to spray. Continued digging it up does weaken it as well. So a 2 pronged attack. 

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  • AtillaAtilla Posts: 1,493
    punkdoc wrote (see)

    he trick is to damage the stems and then to spray. Continued digging it up does weaken it as well. So a 2 pronged attack. 

    Spot on.

    For a veg patch I would not want to use herbicides, so if you have a problem with Horsetail then sort that first or build a raised bed.

  • FleurisaFleurisa Posts: 779

    Get a pair of those body exfoliating gloves from the shower gel section in your supermarket (only £1). Wear them over a pair of rubber washing up gloves, dip your hands into your glysophate weed killer. Rub the weed killer into the horsetail foliage. You need the horsetail to be growing quite strongly before putting the weed killer onto it.

    Horsetail will just grow up through a raised bed

  • Thank you for the advice. My lovely dad has made me a raised bed so will get cracking this weekend image
  • ElusiveElusive Posts: 992

    Pull Pull and Pull again. As soon as you see it pull it up, this seems to have worked for me.

  • I was told by a professional gardener the only solution is to move! I was given it with a plant by a friend, yes we are still friends! as recommended keep at it you can't win but can keep it in check. Happy gardening when the sun shines!


  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 14,653

    I once read that the roots of maretail have been measured to 300m , yes 3 hundred,  no typo: that's how they survived the ice age. Good luck with digging it up. I'd go with bruising and glyphosate.


  • Autumn dhAutumn dh Posts: 51

    We have this all over our lawn and garden. First, they are not called marestails when they are on land, they are called horsetails. They are two different types of plants. The roots go far deeper than any herbicide will be able to reach. Glyphosate won't work. Glyphosate actually encourages field horsetail by eliminating competing plants. Horsetails love poor drainage, low oxygen, and acidic soil. You need to improve your soil by applying lime. After AT LEAST two weeks, apply horse manure. Then some nice compost. I've tried killing them with industrial grade vinegar (20%) but, like anything applied to them, it will only kill the tops and do nothing for the roots (which can go as far down as 7 meters...or over to Japan). Also, it acidifies the soil. Covering any parts of your garden with membrane or plastic will just make the roots really happy without the oxygen and horsetails will pop out everywhere along the sides. Don't do it. That's what the previous owner did here. You lift up the sheet of plastic and it is nothing but horsetail roots under there. They don't like shade so you can crowd some of them out with taller plants. From March to May you must be very vigilant and pull out any female (asparagus looking) horsetails as soon as possible as they spread thousands of spores everywhere. Do not till as it will make things worse. Every bit of root will regenerate into a new plant. We need to realise that they may never, ever fully go away. They take a lot of silicone from your soil so you can compost them after drying them out in order the replace the silicone. Try to improve your drainage by sloping the land away from your property and adding some ditches for the water to flow down. Whew. So, that is what I know. Some simply say it is best to pull out what you can and then just deal with them. The roots go so far down that they don't compete too much with plants for nutrients (allegedly) and the best thing to do is encourage them to move along by improving the soil. Very hard to do if your neighbour has them. I've just dug out our entire lawn and will do my first lime application tomorrow (weather permitting). I'll try to come back and let you all know if this works.

  • Hosetails - Dig them up - it doesn't stop it, but it culls it for a period of time - be prepared to do this perpetually though!! I have tried to live with this problem for 45 + years, since a child!  Whenever it makes an appearance, do away with it. Once it's there, it revels in the space and won't go -  you just move it on.  I've even tried membranes / paving over it and digging out a whole driveway- it just comes back to the side - all you do is move the problem. That's not to say persistence doesn't work - in the short term....I'm just prepared to do battle now every year. 

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