Horsetail Control: What it takes

Horsetail Control

In our last blog we talked about the removal of Japanese Knotweed, which can be a bit of a devil, and so can this weed – Horsetail. 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.


When we are undertaking a site clearance of a site that contains Horsetail we have to be very careful to not cultivate it as cultivating makes it worse. The more you try to cultivate or hoe to get rid of Horsetail the more it will spread, as it 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!


There are a lot of herbicides available on the market to home gardeners, but not many of them (if any) are effective against Horsetail as it 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.


One of the most effective ways to get rid of Horsetail is, believe it or not, by cutting off its supply of energy by keeping the sun away from it. If you cover the infested section of your garden with black tarp to ensure that no sunlight reaches its leaves then the plant will stop spreading, and eventually exhaust itself and die. The downside of this method of control though is that it can take 24 months or more to completely kill the Horsetail.

Like with most methods of weed control, including ragwort control, it is often better to leave it to the professionals at Bark and Branch. You can get in touch with us by phone on 0800 050 2131 or send us an email to for more information.