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Horsetail, also known as marestail or Equisetum arvense to the Latin speakers among us, is a common perennial plant that grows up and down the country. Easily spread and difficult to kill, horsetail is one of the more awkward weeds to control. Even a small amount of horsetail can spread very easily and quickly throughout your garden. Here, the roots spread far and wide while the plant itself reproduces using spores rather than seeds.

However, despite horsetail being a nuisance when it comes to removal, it can be done! This blog looks at the methods of horsetail removal and how Taylor Total Weed Control can help you if you have horsetail in your garden. 

Horsetail in the garden

Image: Pixabay

Traditional methods of weeding such as slashing and mowing have very little effect on removing horsetail completely due to new stems developing from the roots left behind. This often leaves many gardeners and homeowners frustrated by their unwanted presence.

Issues with horsetail begin during the spring when greenish-brown shoots appear from the ground. These shoots are tipped with small cones that produce spores which spread the plant even further. Therefore, it's best practice to try and control the shoots before they begin to spore.

As horsetail roots being to creep throughout the ground, however, they become quite difficult to spot due to their colour being very similar to working soil and often end up spreading much further than most people realise.

Attempting to dig up the roots before the plant develops isn't very feasible either due to the root systems reaching depths of up to 1.5m! Once the stem has created spores, horsetail starts to develop small, thin leaves throughout the plant that last throughout spring and summer before dying off in late autumn. 

Despite the leaves dying off, the roots remain intact meaning the plant will begin to reappear the next and the cycle starts all over again. 

So, how do we get rid of horsetail in the garden? Here's how...


Removing horsetail from your garden

Despite horsetail in the garden being quite difficult to get control of, it is possible to kill the weed before it becomes a bigger problem! It should be noted, however, that removing horsetail from your garden or property is not a quick fix and does require regular re-application of herbicides or repeated cultural control in order to be effective.


Cultural control

It's very important to kill off the first stalks that produce spores to prevent them from reproducing and spreading further later on. Even though these are likely to regrow, hoeing them out before they spore is a very effective way of controlling their spread.


Chemical control

As a result of horsetail leaves being quite hardy and covered in a waxy substance, certain contact weed killers such as glyphosate are simply ineffective. Others, however, which are made from pelargonic acid, are a far better choice. 

Pelargonic acid is naturally-occurring in maleic acid hydrazide, which has been well-studied and used as growth regulators for certain vegetables since the 1950s. 

In order to use this herbicide for horsetail removal, start by crushing the stems and leaves on the plant, helping to break up the waxy substance that protects it from contact weedkillers. This will make the herbicide easier to absorb.

Kurtail herbicide, a glufosinate-ammonium, is another choice for horsetail removal. This may take 1-2 weeks to completely kill off the plant due to the long and extensive root system. This herbicide is best-used when the horsetail is growing as it requires the weed to be actively growing to take full effect. You can check if the plant is dead by breaking off a small piece of the stem near to the ground and checking if it is still green in the centre. If it is, then the plant has not yet fully died back. 

Horsetail growing season is quite long, so applying Kurtail anytime between the beginning of March and the end of Septemeber should work. The plant should be allowed to grow to heights of around 20cm as Kurtail works as a foliar application, meaning it needs leaves to work. 

Once you have successfully killed off the horsetail from your garden or property, it should ideally be burnt or places in a garden recycling bin. Avoid composting it as it has the ability to regrow from the smallest of root particles.


Non-chemical methods 

If you don't want to use chemicals in your garden, you do have the option of a non-herbicide method to control horsetail, however, it may take a fair bit of weeding to gain the best results. 

This method requires decent soil conditions for forking out the soil to make dealing with shoots much simpler. As a result of having less soil, shoots are much easier to remove, so cut off an inch below the soil surface each time they begin to shoot. 

Due to limiting the growth of the plant, you deprive the root of food. If you allow it to grow more than three inches, the horsetail will begin to store food at the roots once more. Therefore, you should never allow the shoots to reach this length!

This is merely a form of weed control as you most likely won't manage to remove all traces throughout the root systems. However, you will significantly reduce how much the horsetail spreads. 

Another way of organically removing horsetail from your garden is through a process known as 'liming'. The focus here is to raise the pH levels of your soil to discourage the plant from growing. You can do this by applying a liming product to your soil but be sure to check how much you need to apply as application rates vary depending on the type of soil you have. 

Remember that non-chemical methods of horsetail treatment often reduces an infestation only and doesn't kill it entirely. For effective and professional horsetail removal, read below to find out Taylor Total Weed Control can be of assistance.

How we can help 

If it's not weed control that you're after, but a full and effective horsetail removal in your garden, Taylor Total Weed Control can help! Our team of experienced professionals are able to come to your premises to assess your horsetail infestation and devise the necessary plan to remove it depending on your needs and requirements!

To begin, simply complete and submit our quick and easy form below and a member of our team will get back to you as soon as possible. 

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