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How do you get rid of Horsetail?

3 years ago

My wife had decided about 6 years ago that horsetail was a good looking plant and decided to plant a few of them in a bed behind the house. Well, go forward a couple of years and I noticed that I had horsetail sprouts in the grass around the bed and it seemed to just continue to creep out. Now I find it all over my back yard and into the next yard. I took a lot of it down by mowing every week, but it continues to come back. The original bed is a mass of horsetail. How do I get rid of it?

Comments (18)

  • 3 years ago

    A bit of quick research indicates that most herbicides just don't work on horsetail. Glyphosate does. So you let it grow, then spray it with glyphosate (which will kill the grass it's in).

    A less destructive method would be to let it grow over the grass, then put on gloves. Damp a paper towel in glyphosate/RoundUp and rub it all over the horsetail, being careful not to get the grass damp. Make sure you see that the horsetail definitely got wet.

    That'll kill out the vast majority of horsetail. Repeat as necessary.

  • 3 years ago

    Along with Japanese knotweed, one of the most difficult of any weedy plants to control, let alone eradicate!

    You can certainly try the glyphosate but the same reasons why equisetum are resistant to other herbicides apply - that very waxy, silica-laced exterior sheathing is just very resistant to herbicide penetration. You may have better results using the cut stem method - weed whack or cut back the horsetails so that a portion of the hollow stem is exposed. Then paint or spray the cut portion with the registered herbicide of your choice. The chemical is much easier translocated through the exposed cut surface into the plant tissue and down into the roots with this method. The groundskeeper at my local nursery uses Crossbow on fenceline perimeter horsetail colonies with this method to good effect. Plants need to be in active growth for any herbicidal application to be most effective.....winter is not an ideal time.

    Most sources and my personal experience dealing with this plant in my own and clients' gardens will caution that this is a multi-season project. And chances of 100% eradication are overly optimistic :-) This plant has 350 million years of history behind it! It's not going anywhere in any big hurry.

  • 3 years ago

    Are you talking about horsetail reed bamboo or some other plant named horsetail?


    This plant should always be contained in a pot, as you now know.

  • 3 years ago

    In which case, the application with sandpaper method is easier. Sandpaper the weed slightly with any grit, then apply the glyphosate. One or two passes is more than sufficient with a light hand, this is not a wood surface.

    Waxy surface issue solved. I keep a cheap stack of sandpaper from the dollar store in the garage to confound the wild onion I get for just this problem. Down it goes with just a tiny bit of cheap glyphosate.

    Evolution, get cracking, because a little sand grit just gotcha. :-)

  • 3 years ago

    Whether you cut the stems or use sandpaper, apply the glyphosate as soon as possible, before the rough edges of the stems heal over and become impermeable to the glyphosate.


  • 3 years ago

    Just don't think that this is a once and done process. You will be working on this for several seasons if you want to effect a serious control. And when an established clump starts producing its spring growth, you may find addressing every individual stalk with sandpaper a bit tedious and seriously time consuming!

  • 3 years ago

    Grab them as a group, shift your hand a bit to arrange them so they're a bit flatter, and draw so that you scratch the maximum number at once.

    Basically, if you expend the amount of energy getting rid of it using any method you like that people do complaining about how getting rid of it doesn't work, you'll probably be rid of it in a couple of years. Folks just like to be negative.

  • 3 years ago

    Have you ever personally attempted removing this plant?? Comments are not negative, merely realistic. This is an extremely difficult plant to control or eradicate, as any website detailing it is clear to point out.

    It can be done but it takes continued, repeat attention over a period of years. Flip, uninformed comments to the contrary are not the slightest bit helpful but then one only has to consider the source.

  • 3 years ago

    Yes, I've controlled any number of nearly "impossible" and fast-reproducing plants with this method. Works fine. Some that are harder to control than this, so my "qualification" challenge definitely passes here. Now that we're apparently talking again...


    https://www.houzz.com/discussions/6027784/what-is-a-good-organic-soil-amendment


    Still waiting to know how urea-eating bacteria work but decay bacteria don't, even though they're the same species. I also have that microbiologist still waiting. Apparently you'll interact with me enough to answer, so I think you can give me the scientific papers over here to disprove me, yes?

  • 3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    Share with us the "any number of nearly "impossible" and fast-reproducing plants" you have controlled with this method. Any equisetum? Any Reynoutria japonica?

    Don't get carried away with yourself.....we are most certainly not "talking"!! Just pointing out what is a very cavalier attitude about one of the most highly documented and difficult weeds to effectively control.

    I also have no intention of responding to the linked thread. Ongoing dialogues with internet bullies are just not part of my agenda.

  • 3 years ago

    I would think a method that bruises the surface of the stems whether they are horsetails, wild onion, or wild garlic would let the herbicide penetrate. Mowing when 8 inches high might do the trick to do the bruising.

  • 3 years ago

    It'll work fine, and this is one case where a ragged cut is better than a good sharp one. Hence the sandpaper as well; just grind deep enough to slice through and make the plant "bleed" a bit.

    And yep, mowing is one of the methods recommended for plants where it can be done or where it's realistic to open wounds. I can't in my landscape rocks for obvious reasons, so out comes the dollar store sixty grit sandpaper. It sure doesn't have a lot of other uses. :-)

  • last year

    I just found this thread. In my experience cutting the weed is a temporary solution. It is true this weed thrives in poor organic matter. Smothering it with thick layer of grass clippings will stop sunlight and therefore any further growth. Also improve soil making it not an ideal condition for it to thrive and then keep repeating. Let me know the result, if you try this


  • last year

    It can also thrive in very fertile soils as well. And smothering it has ZERO effect!! I know, I've tried :-)

    The only method I've found that has any impact at all is the removal of any top growth as soon as it appears above ground. It is a multiple season, long and tedious practice but you will see results eventually.

    There is no quick fix with this.

  • last year

    Cutting only the top growth without snipping the root. I have been trying smothering since last summer. I thought it worked on non-spore ones. This year I see a few with spores. I will cut it out and see . Plus grass clippings. For me the numbers also have really come down after I improved the drainage since last 10 years.

  • last year

    I wanted to add that since these can spread through underground rhizomes, it is possible that it does spread from bad soil patches where it originally started to good areas. However, mine are fairly localized now where spoil has never been amended and shady. So I will use snipping top growth plus smothering with grass.

  • last year

    The point to be noted is that it never spreads through lawns where it gets regularly nipped by the mower. Nipped only as Gardengal said. But roots left untouched could not complete with grass.

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