Mare's Tail

Hello.  No green fingers here but I can follow one syllable instructions, honest.

I have an influx of Mare’s Tail from under next door initially but now it has taken hold in a rockery and needs remedial asap. I guess I need to try & get a barrier in there first of all – will Visqueen be strong enough for this below soil level?

For info, the rockery is approx. a 2’ span across a 2’ drop from a lawn to the top and flags / patio to the base.

Initially, I have gone ‘scorched earth’ on the middle bit (taken the large rocks out to the top and middle and dug the lot over several times – being as careful as possible to get all the roots as well.)

Plan for the middle bit (the ‘bed’): is to leave this open short-term and spot any shoots and re-dig. Then Visqueen the lot (other black plastic sheeting is available) and leave for 12 months. I can then abandon the bed and fill with decorative gravel / stones & pots or try again.

That said, I have seen a similar problem at an allotment where they carpeted the lot but only for the MT to emerge everywhere around the edges (so I guess they haven’t dug it also). Any shoots underneath weren’t 100% dead either. Any other tactics please?

Plan for the lawn: when digging the rockery below, I have unearthed some meaty old roots heading into & under the lawn – eeek.

If I dig these along and into the lawn, I doubt I’ll ever get them all out anyway (little blighters break as easy as) and make a right old mess of the lawn. So as well as mowing and picking every head as it emerges, can I treat the roots with something direct (i.e. soak them in a weed killer)? Or is that too Heath Robinson?

(Strangely enough while some of the MT has emerged in the lawn, the bigger, stronger, beefier shoots have sprouted in the far bed(s). So does it cleverly miss the lawn and risk of mowing and head for open soil?)

Plan for the base of the rockery: this is anchored by some big unit rocks at the bottom (unsurprisingly) and getting these out will mean a digger and / or a damn good osteopath (not easy) but the roots clearly go under these and up and out in the pea gravel channel before the flags and even under some of the flags in places – eek.

So can I treat these with a weed killer (crush the shoots first to break the waxy seal) or will I have to remove the rocks / lift the flags and dig first as well? I am obviously keen to get rid of it under any flags but obviously don’t want to disturb them as they never go back correctly?

Finally, what is the best weed killer please?

Thanks in anticipation.

p.s.  although I now hate Mare’s Tail with a passion, I do, now have a bizarre & grudging respect for its refusal to die.

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Posts

  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 11,279

    Best weedkiller is glyphosate mixed with a bit of fairy liquid to make it wet, otherwise with mares tails it just rolls off.  Stamp on the mares tails a bit to break the stems and make is easier for the glyphosate to be absorbed.

    Constant mowing ( at least once a week) in a lawn will kill it.

    No idea about the barrier , never heard of it.

    Talk to your neighbour about clearing his side at the same time.

     

    It's not a mess, it's a nature reserve.
  • fidgetbones wrote (see)

    Best weedkiller is glyphosate mixed with a bit of fairy liquid to make it wet, otherwise with mares tails it just rolls off.  Stamp on the mares tails a bit to break the stems and make is easier for the glyphosate to be absorbed.

    Constant mowing ( at least once a week) in a lawn will kill it.

    No idea about the barrier , never heard of it.

    Talk to your neighbour about clearing his side at the same time.

     

    Thanks Fidget.

     

    Visqueen is just a brand name for heavy black plastic sheeting - the stuff farmer use for silage clamps, so heavy, heavy duty.

    You can tell i'm a novice by this Q though: is glyphosate the active ingredient to look for in a weedkiller or a brand name itself? (I'm guessing the former).

    Thanks,

     

    Edit: oops, i just did the obvious and googled it & it's a brand. OK, on the shopping list.

  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener LeicsPosts: 6,504

    Visqueen make a number of plastic membranes usually used in the building trade (eg for damp proof courses.)  I think you would be better off using landscaping fabric (not weed membrane) which is strong and designed to prevent weed roots penetrating but will still let water through.  Good advice from FB regarding how to use glyphosate on mares tail - just spraying without roughing the tails up a bit won't work.  The good thing about glyphosate is it is absorbed into all of the weed tissue including the roots (which is the bit you need to kill of course.)  Once done, leave it until the tails die down completely and come away easily.  You will have to repeat if new growth appears later (which it probably will) but you will eventually be rid of it.

    Edit: Just saw your reply which appeared as I was typing.  Glyphosate is the active ingredient - the most common brand is "Roundup".

     

     

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • BobTheGardener wrote (see)

    Visqueen make a number of plastic membranes usually used in the building trade (eg for damp proof courses.)  I think you would be better off using landscaping fabric (not weed membrane) which is strong and designed to prevent weed roots penetrating but will still let water through.  Good advice from FB regarding how to use glyphosate on mares tail - just spraying without roughing the tails up a bit won't work.  The good thing about glyphosate is it is absorbed into all of the weed tissue including the roots (which is the bit you need to kill of course.)  Once done, leave it until the tails die down completely and come away easily.  You will have to repeat if new growth appears later (which it probably will) but you will eventually be rid of it.

    Edit: Just saw your reply which appeared as I was typing.  Glyphosate is the active ingredient - the most common brand is "Roundup".

     

     

    Thanks also Bob. I was right fter all - it is the active ingreient but there is also one called Glyphosate (by Bayer i think) just to confuse people like me.

    When googling, i have also found plenty of peolple swearing that Glyphosate doesn;'t work on MT but they don't say if they have roughed up the shoots first.

    The ones they recommend (Kibosh / Timbrel?) are an absolute fortune so I would like a more cost effective approach if possible. 

    So deos that definitely work then doing that (roughing up the shoots)?

    Thanks.

    Edit:

    Oh and ref the visqueen, this is an agri one (as i say used by farmers for silage clamps that i have already got. And as the barrier i need will essentially be vertical (down along the fence) it just needs to be impermeable and not required to pass water?

  • waterbuttswaterbutts Posts: 1,221

    When I was young and still full of optimism about life in general and gardening in particular I bought a house with mare's tail in the garden. In those days you could buy sodium chlorate by the bucketful and it was used to keep drives permanently clear of any form of plant life. It killed everything stone dead except the mare's tail. Someone suggested concreting the drive and paving the garden. After months of cutting it, poisoning it and cursing it I did that. Five years later I thought "it must be dead by now" and took up one of the paving slabs. There it was, coiled round like miles of electricity cable, waiting for its chance to grow again.

    An old coal miner neighbour told me that they sometimes found the roots 50 feet or more below ground.

    You'll control it but you'll never beat it!

  • You old cynic Butts : ) !

    But you are probably right sadly. I have heard that too about the mines. 

    Mine even has the temerity to pop up through the cracks in the flags, so at least yours was tame !

    As i say the "sure fire" (yeah, right) ones are an absolute fortune, so i think i'm into "management" of it if i can't have all out "extermination" !

  • addictaddict Posts: 659

    If the areas are completely clear of anything else you want to grow then make the soil inhospitable to growth. Use a heavy salt solution. Mares tail cannot grow in that. Just mix salt in a watering can and keep on it til it gives up. Cheap too.

  • waterbutts wrote (see)

    When I was young and still full of optimism about life in general and gardening in particular I bought a house with mare's tail in the garden. In those days you could buy sodium chlorate by the bucketful and it was used to keep drives permanently clear of any form of plant life. It killed everything stone dead except the mare's tail. Someone suggested concreting the drive and paving the garden. After months of cutting it, poisoning it and cursing it I did that. Five years later I thought "it must be dead by now" and took up one of the paving slabs. There it was, coiled round like miles of electricity cable, waiting for its chance to grow again.

    An old coal miner neighbour told me that they sometimes found the roots 50 feet or more below ground.

    You'll control it but you'll never beat it!

     

    Actually Waterbutts, are you saying you can't get sodium chlorate as a weedkiller any more? I think I still have some of that.

     

  • Oops, messed that reply up but the question still applies.

  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 11,279

    sodium chlorate will kill the ground for three years. Its persistent and will bleed sideways into other flower beds.

    It's not a mess, it's a nature reserve.
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