Guide to horsetail control

Find out how to control horsetail in your garden.


Manchester tree surgeon's guide to horsetail control

Horsetail control is notoriously difficult as it will grow in practically any type of soil – whether the soil be clay, sand, or loam.

It does, however, tend to prefer wet conditions as the wind-blown spores of the plant will only germinate when the conditions are moist. However, once the plant has become established, it will thrive in dry soils as well – although it will grow more slowly than in wet.

Cultivation of horsetail

When we undertaking any site clearance we are very careful not to cultivate horsetail.

Unfortunately, the more you try to cultivate or hoe to get rid of horsetail the more it will spread. This is because horsetail has rhizomes, similar to knotweed, which, when you cut them, will produce a new plant from each section.

Cultivation will also encourage the spread of of the horsetail bulbs – which you definitely don’t want to do!

Use of herbicides for horsetail

There are a lot of herbicides available on the market to home gardeners, but not many of them (if any) are effective against horsetail. This is because horsetail just won’t absorb them.

Lawn herbicides are also not much use as they tend to focus on broad-leaved weeds, and horsetail is very narrow leaved. It is also really difficult to use herbicides in a garden without killing all of the other plants nearby.

Sunlight & horsetail

One of the most effective ways to get rid of horsetail is to cut off its supply of energy by keeping the sun away from it.

If you cover the infested section of your garden with black tarp, ensuring that no sunlight reaches its leaves, then the plant will stop spreading, and eventually exhaust itself and die.

The downside to this method of control is that it can take 24 months or more to completely kill the horsetail.

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