Killing Horsetail Takes Persistence

Question about killing horsetail:

My question to you today is how to get rid of a weed that some call horsetail. It grows straight up and has what looks like links and is somewhat purplish in colour and it is completely taking over my garden. I have dug down quite deep to get to the root but it just seems like I can't get rid of it.

Do you have any idea what it is and how do I go about getting rid of it?

Doug says

Horsetail is the among the worst garden weeds and pests I know of. I had it in my rock garden at the farm and my kids grew to hate it as I'd send them out there to pull it. (I did my share too) :-)

This weed is impervious to chemicals such as roundup. (I'm told that putting a drop of concentrate down the hollow stem works as a "paint" application listed on the roundup label. You have to cut each stem to do this. I've never tried it though and can't recommend it.)

Horsetail Thrives

Horsetail thrives in sandier soils with poor fertility. The root system is deep and interconnected.

You can burn off the tops with an acetic acid organic herbicide such as 'Sharpshooter' or the home mixed alternative. You'll have to experiment with the best stage to hit them. I suspect it will be at the early opening stage - just when the spears start to unfurl and they are at their most tender.

You can mulch with layers of newspapers and then cover that with a layer of mulch to smother it out. But don't let any escape and don't ever remove the mulch as the seeds will be there for some time.

organic weed control
Horsetail image courtesy Wikimedia

Bottom Line for Killing Horsetail

Bottom line. Start pulling. Keep pulling. When you think you can't pull anymore, pull some more.

Experiment with vinegar sprays

You'll get some tops, you'll get some roots and it will take several years of vigilance. Been there - done that pulling.

Constant vigilance is the only method short of smothering it out with newspaper and a heavy mulch layer.

Good luck with this pest.

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