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Horse tail or Mare's tail

Does anyone know of a reliable way to get rid of Mare's tail (also known as Horse tail) I have a lot of it on my allotment and no matter how many times I hoe it down or dig it up, it seems to come back stronger than ever?



  • CeresCeres Posts: 2,103

    The roots go down to hell so it is practically impossible to eradicate. Those who use strong weedkillers on the stuff advocate bruising the stems before applying the poison because horsetail has a water repellent coating (which is why it looks so beautiful when covered in dew). You will need to do this several times over a season but it can work.......up to a point.

    Some people dig the stuff out but you have to remove every single tiny piece of root that you encounter or it will re-sprout. Unless you dig down to Australia you aren't going to get all of the roots out.

    A third way is to break off the tops every time you see a horsetail poke its head above the surface of the soil. It weakens them and by the end of the summer they look very pale, but it doesn't get rid of them.

    You could learn to love them and live in harmony with a weed that has been around for a very long time.


  • Tanks Ceres. You have told me what I have long suspected.


  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 29,459

    Charles, the short answer is , you'll never get rid of it.

    It survived the last ice age and its roots have been recorded at 300m deep, yes that's three hundred metres deep. Honest.

  • KT53KT53 Posts: 5,546

    I believe they don't like competition and where there is other strong plant growth they don't do so well.  That hasn't helped me much as I currently trying to remove them from an unused veg plot of about 25' by 12'.  I am actually going over the entire bed, using a garden fork shoved in to full depth and sifting each fork full by hand to remove as much of the growth as possible.  I'm under no illusions of eradicating it completely, but hopefully I will then be able to control new growth more effectively as it inevitably reappears.  I'm fortunate in having light soil which will crumble in my hands and allow me to remove the main growth quite easily.

    The plan is to attack new growth, as it appears, by crushing the stems and applying Roundup or similar.

  • I used that tree stump killer type stuff on ours. It has worked, or it has certainly improved the situation, I've noticed the shooots that have recently come up have got white/grey marks on them and don't look too healthy.

    I treated mine all summer and it took weeks for it to show any signs of dying off. I'm sure I'll need to do the same next summer too....


    Oh yes, definitely scrunch the leaves up before applying...

  • KT53KT53 Posts: 5,546

    Use of Roundup has certainly worked to a degree for me in the past.  I accept that it doesn't completely eradicate the problem, but seeing the growth above ground go black certainly indicates it has some effect.

  • a small thermo-nuclear bomb buried about 50 feet down would do the trick! image 

    but I wouldn't advise eating any produce off the site for the next few centauries!

  • i'm nearly afraid to say this but i was recommended kurtail available from progreen. it may need a couple of applications but it will help. last time i mentioned it on here i was picking my teeth out of the back of my throat for a week. some folk on here aren't fans of chemicals. i'm a fan of choice! good luck. you'll need it either way.image

  • CeresCeres Posts: 2,103

    I have every sympathy with anyone who uses chemicals to get rid of horsetails even though I would rather use organic methods whenever possible.

  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 29,459

    you'll never get rid of it. Sorry , but it's true. Organic or otherwise.

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