How can I get rid of Horsetail Weeds?

Discussion in 'HortForum' started by Ron B, Apr 9, 2005.

  1. Ania_Gardener

    Ania_Gardener New Member

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    Location:
    Langley, BC
    It’s all about chemistry of your topsoil.

    Horsetail thrives in acidic soil that doesn't get a lot of oxygen (e.g. covered with plastic or fabric mulch)

    Just one plant can take over your entire garden and whether you pull them at the surface, spray them with weed killer, poor over vinegar no matter how strong or even dig them up by the rhizome and secondary roots, this stubborn weed will prevail.

    In order to eradicate these invasive plants from your yard is to change the conditions of the soil they grow in.

    In the spring (April) cut these stalks off and put them into a trash.

    Remove any mulch from around the horsetail stalks, and throw it away to help prevent the spread of horsetail. Pull up any plastic or other mulch material that has been laid around the area where the horsetail is growing. Throw this away as well.

    Each hole should get a scoop of dolomite lime. Dolopril is a good choice. Then poor water over the holes so the granules will dissolve faster.

    Wait two weeks and then apply a 2-inch layer of fertilizer, compost or manure. This will encourage earthworm activity, which will aerate the soil. Aerating the soil will help kill horsetail weeds because they thrive in low-oxygen areas.

    Plant perennial ground-cover plants. Living plants are the most effective way to eradicate horsetail from your yard because they will take space, light and moisture away from the weeds.

    As soon the new shoots pop up, cut them immediately and repeat the procedure.

    Don’t get discouraged; it can take as long as 5 years to completely eradicate horsetail weeds from your garden, be diligent and patient. At the end you will win without using carcinogenic chemicals.

    And absolutely don't cover horsetail with plastic or cloth mulch.

    Please don’t use weed killers on horsetails. They only kill the top layer of the weed, and aren't effective for destroying the roots.

    Good luck
     
  2. Janthegardenlady

    Janthegardenlady New Member

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    Location:
    inland northwest, USA
    I won't even use RoundUp, and that's supposed to be mild. I have robins foraging for earthworms, mourning doves and juncos that eat the bird seed that falls on the ground from the feeders, and little harmless ribbon snakes and frogs and lizards in my garden, and there's no way I'm going to use any poisons in it. Cider vinegar is the limit, and I will research some of the other products mentioned here and look for customer reviews on them -- but I'm hesitant to use anything too strong. Thanks for the warning about the 2,4D. If it was in Agent Orange, it has no business in our environment.
     
  3. Slavex

    Slavex Member

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    Location:
    lower mainland
    Amine 500 absolutely kills horsetail, right back to it's roots. It's only when new plants spread from different areas that it returns
     
  4. Margot

    Margot Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Nanoose Bay, BC Canada
    The only way I found to be rid of horsetail was to move away. After fighting it (with limited success) for 30 years in my Burnaby garden, we moved to a rather dry area of Vancouver Island where horsetail cannot thrive. Few slugs either. I must say though that I miss many other plants that grew in the same well-hydrated conditions.

    I almost enjoyed digging up horsetail in my Burnaby garden, knowing full well it was a futile effort. It was so satisfying to dig out horsetail rhizomes - sometimes 2 meters long. We must not forget that horsetail, Equisetum, is a "living fossil" as it is the only living genus of the entire class Equisetopsida, which for over one hundred million years was much more diverse and dominated the understory of late Paleozoiec forests." It seems to me that any plant that can survive for over 100,000,000 million years is not going to be deterred by vinegar or anything else.

    Controlling horsetail is the best to strive for. Consistent removal of the above-ground plant helps, not to mention as much of the rhizome as you can pull out. Herbicides like glyphosate are, in my opinion, a waste of time. Even if it worked, I'd never, ever consider 2,4-D; just not worth the health risks.

    I virtually eradicated many terribly invasive plants by removing above-ground growth year after year after year . . . Goutweed (Aegopodium podagraria), Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatm), Morning glory (Convolvulus arvensis) and Chameleon plant (Houttuynia cordata). But not horsetail. We have to choose our battles. I believe that physical control of horsetail in the form of pulling as much as possible is the best - and only - way to go. Unless you want to move away.
     
  5. Janthegardenlady

    Janthegardenlady New Member

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    Location:
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    Between the horsetail in my garden and the surrounding areas, and the Canadian thistles, I'm digging all of the time. I'm also trying to minimize the Lily-of-the-Valley and Ajuga that has spread like wildfire, by digging, digging, digging. I try to get out as much root as possible. I do use cider vinegar, which is effective on the smaller thistles and some other weeds -- the secret is to get them while they're still small. It warmed up so early this Spring in my area, and stayed warm consistently throughout late April and May, that everything returned much earlier this year and grew much faster. I wasn't expecting such a quick warming, nor was I prepared for it. Weeds will always be a battle in any garden. Even mulching thickly or using landscape fabric doesn't help for long. The fabric breaks down and weeds just grow right up through it -- mulch, as well. And plastic is a no-no. It encourages fungus and root rot. We just have to resign ourselves to weeding as garden maintenance, just like deadheading, watering and feeding. It's all maintenance, and it has to be done.
     
  6. Tweety

    Tweety New Member

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    Location:
    Clovis ca
    Lots of fertilizer and no water. I did have someone to cut them down and haul grass away Pluck grass when it pops up without pulling roots on the grass stem. Be persistent. It really was taking over my yard. Dug up plants I wanted to keep Now I can plant Whatever I want!
     
  7. Raj132

    Raj132 New Member

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    Location:
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    Any further updates on the best way of ridding lawns and flower beds of horsetail. Is there anything that works “guaranteed”. ;)
     
  8. Ania_Gardener

    Ania_Gardener New Member

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    Location:
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    You have to dig in and rip the horsetail spears before they go into seeds and sprinkle 1/2 cup of Dolopril (fine dolomite lime ) into the hole, then water it. It helps for a few weeks, then as soon a new shoot emerge repeat the process.
     
  9. Margot

    Margot Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Nanoose Bay, BC Canada
    After 30 years learning to live with horsetail in a low-lying area of Burnaby, BC, I have to question some of the advice being given here about how to eradicate it.
    • First of all, I believe virtually all horsetail you will find emerging in your gardens is growing from an extensive rhizomatous root system, not spores or 'seeds'.
    • Horsetail grows in naturally wet or damp areas so it really doesn't matter if you water or not.
    • Cider vinegar may kill the top growth of weeds but cannot not be relied on to kill the roots of any but seedlings.
    • Sprinkling 1/2 a cup of Dolopril poured into every hole where a spike of horsetail has been removed could seriously alter the pH of the soil in areas where horsetail grows rampantly. Besides that, it would have a very limited detrimental effect.
    As I explained in my post of June 17, 2018, persistent and consistent removal of horsetail spikes is the only way to beat it back. Keep in mind that all plants need leaves to photosynthesize and the fewer leaves, the less robust the root system. A prehistoric plant like horsetail, growing in the right conditions, is never going to be eradicated. Think of it as a cosmetic issue - it really doesn't compromise the growth or health of other plants - just annoys the heck out of gardeners.
     
  10. jimweed

    jimweed Active Member 10 Years

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    Location:
    Aldergrove
    If you are looking for a mild chemical control anything with the active ingredient 2,4-d such as (Killex, Trillion, Par III,) will easily kill all that are existing. They will return but less each time you treat. If you want to completely stop them from emerging in you garden beds, apply Casoron to the soil and zero will appear. Keep in mind Casoron is meant to be used strictly around woody stem shrubs, trees, or hedges. Do not apply near flower beds, vegetable gardens, or on turf as it will weaken or kill soft stem plants.
     
  11. Peter Marks

    Peter Marks New Member

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    Location:
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    I have horsetail. It's in the neighbourhood. I am retired so I go out each day and cut what I find growing. The rest that comes up between the paving slabs I spray with glysophate (240 g/l 1:20) which seems to kill it a few days. If I find it under the hedging I brush it with glysophate after rubbing my thumb on the bottom of the stalk to break the waxy coating. I mix washing up liquid with the diluted glysophate to make it stick to the horsetail. From what I have read over time it seems that persistence is the key to controlling it and reducing it over time. When I first moved to this house I bought Roundup and sprayed it and in the process left big patches on the lawns. So now it's mow and cut. I see it as part of my daily routine.
     
  12. Margot

    Margot Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    If you have horsetail in your neighbourhood, you can be pretty sure it's been there for thousands of years and may be for thousands of years to come. (Climate change will have a role to play - who knows?) Your best bet is to aim for control, not eradication. When I lived in a low-lying area on the Lower Mainland, I had a lot of fun for 30 years digging up horsetail rhizomes - sometimes 2 meters long - and did, eventually, notice a significant reduction in the number of plants above ground. I even tried Roundup in the 1970s and added dish soap to improve adhesion. I still have a reply letter from Monsanto telling me not to do that because the product already includes a surfactant. I'm retired too in an area where horsetail doesn't grow. I kind of miss it and slugs and all the plants that grow in a more moist environment.
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2019

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