Help...marestail and other nasties...

And I thought brambles and rabbits were going to be the biggest problem on the allotment ...but over the past week bindweed and marestail has started to grow in the part I've yet to dig over.

I've been digging out bindweed roots along with brambles for weeks and noticed some black roots, which have come out too - I've realised this is marestail , there have also been loads of unidentifed tubers which have been dug up, they are long and nobbly with tiny white thread roots, I've dug out most of these but a few have come up in the raised beds. 

Q- how do I to get rid of bindweed and marestail?

I've read the thread  talking about marestail and it seems best solution is just to keep pulling it outimage  

Q - Does roundup really work? I painted it on neat in cuts made on the bark of two tree stumps, several weeks ago and one has shoots starting to produce leaves  image    

Q- how can I kill the tree stumps.

On a positive note another slow worm came out to bask in the sun today whilst I was digging over the plot image 




  • I have both these in my garden - I googled them - I thought they were wild flowers image


    I put creosote on a tree stump once and that stopped it sprouting again. Sorry, I'm totally useless. Sure someone else will know how to advise you.

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,822

    For tree stumps use this 

    For bindweed and horsetail, bruise the leaves (runnng over with a roller will do it) before spraying thoroughly with a weedkiller containing glyphosate - that will aid the take up of the glyphosate - then wait and wait until the weeds turn brown - that means that the roots have taken up the glyphosate and will die.

    Good luck image 

    Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes. 
  • Zoomer44Zoomer44 Posts: 2,908

    Thanks for the responses.

    When I was at the GC checking out weed killers another customer suggested creosote on bindweed and just keep pulling the marestail out.  

    I've tried roundup on the tree stumps and on a couple of brambles I'd missed...followed the intructions but it didn't seem to work, will try it again though hopefully the second dose will work.

    Can you advise on a weed killer containing glyphosate. 


  • The Roundup/glyphosate only works properly when a plant is actively growing, so best not to use it over the winter months.  It's absorbed through the leaves, so putting it on bark won't work at all.  In order to prevent it reaching stuff you want to keep, one way of dealing with things is to cut off top & bottom of a plastic container (one of those very large plastic milk cartons works well) put this over the plant, pulling up the leaves into the container, and then spraying it.  If you need a bigger "shield", a cheap plastic bucket with the bottom cut out would do the trick.

  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 14,212

    Roundup is the most popular WK containing Glyphosate


  • I think for Bindweed you need to wait until you have enough big leaves to coat with weedkiller........some even suggest you wait until it begins to flower to get the best effect.

    As far as Roundup on tree stumps, it may well take a couple of years to cover everything depending on whether it is a single trunk or a suckering variety.


  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,822

    There are loads of different ones - use Google or ask at your garden centre and read the packs - they will tell you the contents and the concentration as well as recommendations and directions etc.

    While real old fashioned creosote will kill virtually any plant, that's why it's no longer sold - it's dangerous stuff for humans too  - the sort of product that gardeners sometimes refer to as creosote nowadays will not damage plants - that's why you can paint your fences without killing your clematis image

    There are also specific herbicides for roots and stumps - read the labels and get the right one and follow the instructions and you'll kill your tree stumps.

    Brambles need to be sprayed with glyphosate when they are in active growth with lots of lovely fresh green leaves -  I find SBK brushwood killer to be very good for this - RHS suggestions are here 


    Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes. 
  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 14,212

    put bamboo canes in to let the bindweed climb up,then you have a good leaf area to deal with. Dab the gel Roundup all over it and it should be gone in no time. I've done this with bindweed growing through hedges and I know it works, just keep at any new shoots which pop up and don't get the weedkiller on any other plants.


  • the Creosote substitute is usually called Creocote.......presumably not much different from any other wood stain.

    Genuine Creosote is still actually available to the general public as I discovered the other day(although I understand it had supposedly been banned for amateur use ).............I imagine  one would only use it for soaking fence posts these days or what passes for "Railway Sleepers".

     Like any other toxic, it is only dangerous when used in the wrong serves a purpose............long term protection of wood being the main one.

    Are we all to be treated like idiots these days ?  There are plenty of chemicals which are promoted for use in the garden which we are "allowed" to use ........often without care or knowledge. 

    Seems a bit one sided to meimage 

  • Zoomer44Zoomer44 Posts: 2,908

    Both the stumps and brambles are putting out small leaves so will wait till next weekend and try again. 

    I did cut into the bark with a saw, one stump though is possibly 2ft wide and was felled a couple of years ago. Not sure what you mean by a single trunk or a sucker variety, this one has come up several feet from the main trunk with small minor branches growing from the base and sides. The other tree stump is alot narrower and felled this year, the roots are lot smaller and if I can kill it, will, hopefully, be able to dig it out.

    Will check out the RHS website.

    The brambles aren't as much of a problem as they can be dug out. 

    Growing bindweed up canes sounds a good plan,  when do they flower, I'm not sure I'd be able to waitimage


  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 14,212

    I used to be a garden centre manager with B&Q about 30 years ago and just standing next to a pallet of creosote ( which was where the dept. phone was ) used to make my skin turn red and itch for days. I had to go into another dept to us the phone in the end.

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,822
    Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes. 
  • DaintinessDaintiness Posts: 949

    For the tree stumps I would treat with brushwood killer/stump killer and then I'd  put a black bin liner  over the stump, tying it in place and forget about it for a year. The brambles, bindweed etc you already have good advice for - keep being persistent but be careful when applying glyphosate or any other weedkiller that you don't get it on your crops - the bindweed may take several doses but you can be sure your crops just need one drop to keel over!

  • Autumn dhAutumn dh Posts: 51

    Ok, my first post. We have this all over our lawn and garden, so I was going to come here looking for advice...but instead I will share the research I have done so far. First, they are not called marestails when they are on land, they are called horsetails. They are two different types of plants. None of the suggestions above will work. Sorry folks, but that was not the best advice. 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.

  • Zoomer44Zoomer44 Posts: 2,908

    The plot has laid fallow for several years and was covered in black plastic with stuff growing through were the plastic had become displaced by wind. The land has good drainage though, prehaps to good as it's on a slope. It's getting lot's of oxygen having never been dug over for years and there are worms in the soil although it's not teeming with them.

    Interestingly enough the horsestail is coming up where the plastic was, bindweed is coming up in the exposed sites.

    More by accident than design I've double dug in mushroom compost on some beds and this contains lime to stop the mushrooms from growing. Drinkwaters Farm is local and I was thinking of asking if they give their compost away image. It would improve the soil and also kill the horsetail. 

    I was aiming to retain some of the water in the soil with the compost before it drained off but am I right in thinking according to your research Autumn dh the lime will help slow down horsetail but retaining water will encourage itimage 

    As I'd planned to use roundup on the bindweed, three approaches with the horsestail wouldn't hurt, weedkiller, lime compost and pulling out...

    On a positive note there must be a family of slow worms living at the bottom of the plot, another one ventured out from the pile of stuff down there to watch me digging over the soil yesterday.

    Thanks for the link Dove, guess I won't be using creosoteimage                 

  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 11,106

    Sorry, Autumn, but in the midlands area of  England, Equisetum arvense is often called marestail. The RHS acknowledges this on its website.  I think that shows the importance of using latin binomial system, then we all know what we are talking about.

    There is no way I would add it to a compost heap, as the tiniest bit will regrow.

    My mother has been battling it for over 55 years. It comes through tarmac, and it doesn't  matter how much its pulled it still comes back. She has free draining neutral sandy soil. The only cure we have found is stamping on it and then spraying with glyphosate.

    It's not a mess, it's a nature reserve.
  • Autumn dhAutumn dh Posts: 51

    Doesn't matter if people mistakenly call it mare's tail, it is still horsetail. Horsetail is not Hippuris vulgaris, Mare's tail is (as you already know).

    Would never compost a female, but the male's leaves and stem...after drying them out (as stated above) in the sun first...are not going to regenerate from death, come back to life, and repopulate after composting. They spread through roots and female spores.


  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,822

    Autumn image, of course it's your garden to do as you wish with.  

    However, even articles on the internet can contain mistaken information - I see that the link you've given us refers to this plant as 'Mares tail' and as you've told us, that's wrong ........... image

     The naming of plants is a minefield - people named plants before names were ever written down.  This is why the Linnaean system and the taxonomies that developed from it are so widely used to avoid confusion - every plant has a recorded Latin name.  

    However this does not mean that regional common names are 'mistakes' - they are colloquial names and have validity and value - for example, English literature would be so much poorer without the traditional regional names for plants.

    To return to the matter in hand, you have told us that you still have Horsetail infesting your garden, so I take it that the techniques you advocate have not yet worked.  

    Several others have written of their personal experience of establishing an acceptable degree of control using glyphosate.  

    In gardening there are many paths ............................ image

    Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes. 
  • iGrowiGrow Posts: 183
    Not many people will be using a hotbin so safest thing is not to compost horsetail unless it has been drowned or completely dried out first.
  • Autumn dhAutumn dh Posts: 51

    I am an English teacher, but thanks on trying to educate me on colloquialisms.

    Colloquialisms are informal. Calling it a colloquial, I have no problem with. Saying that a horsetail is a mare's tail and that is it's name...and not just what you call what I have a problem with. I could go around calling roses daffodils and just tell people it is a colloquialism, but that would be a bit ridiculous. Looking at the Wikipedia page, there is not mention of mare's tail (I didn't edit it, I swear!) and I've gardened in three countries that use the term horse tail.

    When doing searches on how to combat the horsetail, wouldn't the searches be more effective and garner better results if people used the proper name rather than the colloquial? Maybe by correcting the use of the word in its colloquial form, as I did, one could find more options for control?

    Maybe you should update the Wiki page with your colloquialism. Might get shot down by the editors however.

    Wouldn't put glyphosate anywhere, ever. Will never advocate that anyone does so. Also, I have never seen any proof that it works on the horsetails. The great majority of gardening professionals state that no current weedkiller will work on the horsetails. I tend to go with them. If someone here can show me before and after photos year after year after using glysophate, then I'd love to see that. I really would. I'd also like to know how glysophate kills roots 5 meters deep. I tried it when I lived in Japan to no avail because I had difficulty reading some of the labels, I had no idea I was using it at the time.

    You are right though, there are many paths. I just can't believe people have such a problem with someone chiming in and saying something other than "Put glysophate on there".

    Sorry if I sound rude. Just spent the month pulling out female horsetails from lawn, digging out the turf by hand and applying lime late last night. This was after extensive research on ways to combat this. It is frustrating that these were not disclosed to us by the previous owner. It is frustrating to be told they will never go away. It is frustrating that there is no requirement to disclose this sort of infestation. 

    It was even more frustrating to come here and get the most terrible welcome from three of your users when they decided to call me a muppet, someone else, and a WUM for posting solutions to horsetail problems in the forum where people where people ask for solutions to horsetail problems.

    iGrow...yes, I suggested drying out first, but no one listens to me...

     fidgetbones...they love sandy soil.



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