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We've just had a new raised bed built in our back garden.  It's great, but it appears the additional topsoil has some horsetail in it... a few sprouts of horsetail have started to appear each day.

I know this weed can be an absolute pain to get rid of once established.  So I was wondering if anyone has some good ideas on what we can do early on to nip this in the bud, so to speak?

I've had conflicting advice about pulling it up every time it appears (which is practical to do, given it's only a few shoots): some say the horsetail will eventually give up if you get there early enough to prevent photosynthesis; others say this just breaks the roots and gives you two shoots next time!

Another thought was to apply weedkiller to each individual stalk, being careful with to avoid the other plants in the bed.  Again, this could be done, as it's only a few stalks each day (so far!)

Any advice gratefully received!


Where on earth did the topsoil come from?  Whoever supplied it should take it back immediately and provide you with decent stuff. 

Well, if you can't get it taken away and replaced with good soil you are lumbered with a pernicious weed and the best thing is to whack it as hard as you can immediately.

Yes, you can paint on weedkiller as soon as you see the tiniest shoot appearing, but it depends on how many square metres you are dealing with.

Someone on this forum mentioned Kurtail S being the creme de la creme of horsetail killer. I went to the garden centre today and they don't sell it but kindly referred me to ebay where it is selling for about £40 a half litre!

Possibly the best thing you can do is tell anyone who will listen the name of the company that "installed" the horsetail for you and let the world know what a bunch of cowboys they are.


As Waterbutts said, tread on it or hit it with the back of a hand fork and then spray it with Resolva 24h or another quick acting weed killer.  It can be got rid of/controlled. 


I would do as above (weed killer and weeding) before it is able to release its spores then spread.... it will go quiet over autumn winter as it dies back so be prepaired to tackle more in spring..... it can be controlled but you have to be persistant ... also complain to the shop you got the top soil from....x


I've got a teeny bit that springs up every year between paving steps. I just pul the top off. In 7 years I've never had it come back the same year, and no more than 3 shoots ever emerge. If its in new soil, can you pull the whole thing? If so, that's better than poison. If not, I'd recommend bramble killer once a week til it goes brown. But as a waxy guy, its pretty resistant to anything topical, hence the light bashing first, to let it penetrate. If you keep getting new bits appearing, I'd seriously consider replacing the soil. If it gets down into the roots of anything you've planted you will never be rid of it, b*ggardly stuff.

Thanks for the advice, all.  I'll see whether Kurtail can do the job - at the moment it's only about 6 shoots, so I can handpick my targets!

The topsoil was from a local landscape gardener.  They did an excellent job, apart from this...!  Rest assured I shall be having a word...

Any chance of getting some because I have heard that is you treat it like Comfrey and spray it diluted on roses they will not get black spot or rust. 

Leysjeh wrote (see)

Thanks for the advice, all.  I'll see whether Kurtail can do the job - at the moment it's only about 6 shoots, so I can handpick my targets!

The topsoil was from a local landscape gardener.  They did an excellent job, apart from this...!  Rest assured I shall be having a word...

I'm sorry - I wouldn't accept it - horsetail in your garden can seriously de-value your property.  If there's shoots of it in the soil it's likely to be full of spores which will grow later on.  I would insist that the landscape gardener removes it all - every last bit, and replaces with topsoil from a reputable source.   If he refuses I'd get it done by someone reputable and pursue him for recompense through the Small Claims Court - charging for my time and expenses as well as the cost of the remedial work.  

What he's done is awful and is the sort of thing that gets the landscaping industry a bad name.

Agreed, Dove. The good quality of the soil is implicit in the contract that you agreed with the supplier.

Tricia Muddyboots

I have horsetail on my property here in south west France.  It seems to like damp soil.  All the farmers hereabouts have it in the dips and it seems impossible to iradicate.  I would definitely get the landscape gardener to change the soil before the horsetail

 dies down in the autumn.  Horsetail is the worst weed you would want in your garden.

tony lamb

When i went to the Hampton Court Flower show i spoke to the roundup man about horse tail and he told me knock it about abit before spraying with roundup so that it gets into the plant. Having the same problem on my allotment i will try this next week. i have try spraying with roundup in the past and did not touch it.

Not sure if you still need to know but I have just taken an allotment on and it was completely covered with horsetail, I brought some kurtail after a lot of research treated it 3 days ago and it's about dead you could plainly see where I missed so I gave it another dose with the bits I missed. So I can whole heartedly reccomend kurtail for eradicating it however if it has totally taken hold like our allotment it will take 3 years approximately as some lay dormant each year and you need to wait fir it to start growing fully before kurtail actually works as when it touches soil it becomes inactive hope this helps

Ammonium Sulphamate (check it out on Wikipedia) can be purchased in granular form and mix 6 to 1 with water and spray. If it is just a few stems pushing through then nip off the end and put a small funnel over so as not to spray the soil.  If its a large area then just overspray and dont grow anything else there for a while (i think its about 4 months) It definately kills horsetail and other tough weeds. 

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