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yes this stuff is a NIGHTMARE! keep cuting the roots and poison the leaves im afraid..

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I have battled with Marestail for 20 years in the gardens of our last 2 homes. Everything - absolutely everything - YES absolutely everything has failed until two years ago.

In our new house Mares Tail appeared around my wife's precious plants and not just an odd one or two - a veritable forest. Having tried everything over the last 20 years I started from scratch. THIS HAS WORKED!!!!

1) Purchased 1/2 litre of "Kurtail" from Progreen - easy to find on the internet.

2) Waited until all the Mares Tails were healthy and strong - in my case approx 150  were evident. Placed 1ft long section of 2" drainage pipe around each individual frond, and kept each pipe in place with a wire peg made from old fence wire. This took approx. 1 day.

3) Using recommended dose of Kurtail I sprayed into each pipe - a short 1 second burst. The use of the pipe protected the surrounding healthy plants. I was advised that maybe 3 applications would be required. FOLLOW ALL THE SAFETY ADVICE RE CLOTHING ETC.

4) I left the pipes in place for 4 weeks - each week applying a couple of doses.


Initially all seemed well with no evidence of the dreaded culprit.

The following year approx 20 fronds appeared - I repeated the above treatment.


PS:- This treatment has worked in a garden that has been ruined by Mares Tail over a 20 year period. The work involved is considerable - but totalling approx 2 days - in the scheme of things a fantastic result, especially as it has been in a cultivated garden where the risk of collateral damage is very high.


Just for the record - in the past I have tried many well known week-killers. Have hand dug - chasing the roots to approx 18"depth - backbreaking. Hired rotovator and dug up the whole garden removing roots as they appeared. This has all been a soul-destroying venture, but with a happy ending after only a couple of days labour. The preparation of all the pipe lengths and wire pegs took some time - during winter months - I made a batch of approx 50 and treated the garden in three sections to kill the 150 (approx) fronds. This has been a long and weary learning curve - but I'm smiling now as I've reached this particular summit. The "pipe" system completely isolates the weed from surrounding plants - essential in a part of the world where the wind can carry weedkiller to healthy plants. The use of an inverted cone on a standard spray nozzle (prior to the pipe method) - was a failure - as the spray often reached neighbouring plants, and perhaps allowed the weekiller to dry-off too quickly on the marestail.

Hope this helps.

I have been plagued by mares tails found a weed killer called kurtail from pro green (based in Bourne,lincs) although I balked at the £30 cost I'd had enough of round up etc not doing anything.within hours of applying it the weed started to blacken within days it was completely dead.i've just bought a second batch to cover the bits I missed

Hope this helps



About 5 years ago I had a couple of 1 tonne bags of sand and aggregate delivered into my garden.  Unbenown to me they also delivered the spores/seeds/roots of mares tail and within 2 years the stuff had infested the garden.  I had no idea what it was until a visitor remarked upon it and described the implications for the gardens future.  He said I would never be rid of it.

I took a long term approach.  

The First Year

  • First I mapped out the infestation on a plan of the garden so that I knew where to look and how to guage any changes.  There were hundreds of tall fronds in the borders and they all spread out from the epicentre where the aggregate had stood.
  • I then removed every sign of the plant above the ground. 
  • Every weekend I inspected the ground for signs of regrowth.  Any new shoots that had appeared were cut in half (the chopped off piece was binned) and then sprayed with Round-Up.  
  • I chopped off the top and bottom of a plastic bottle to create a clear cylinder.  This was placed over the shoot as I sprayed to restrict the chemicals spread to avoid damaging other plants.
  • Shoots quickly browned and growth was stopped but I still sprayed them if they were present.  I did this until they litterally snapped in half and were dead.

The Second Year

  •  Alert to the prospect of a reinfestation I continued to look carefully for new Mares Tail shoots and deal with them as previously.  Cut and spray.  No new shoot is allowed to grow more than 3-4 inches long before it is dealt with.
  •  According to my plan the infestation was hugely reduced and the shoots much weaker.

The Third Year (now)

  • I have had only 3 shoots appear since spring and these are all in the same small space.  These have been dealt with but I remain vigilant for any other late growth.
  • I consider the battle won (or almost)!  
  • It has cost me about 6 spray bottles of Round-Up and lots of time but I think  it has been worth it.

Mares Tail can be beaten.  My recommendation is to plan your campaign, take a measured and consistent approach using the commercial weed killer that is widely available and be patient. 




Marshmello - I saw your cry for help regarding eradicating horse tail in Gardners World magazine and was prompted tp reply.

In my garden I have a huge rockery and when I bought the house the rockery was full of horsetail. I tried every possible weedkiller from sodiun chlorate throuigh many now banned materials for removing tree stumps through glyphosate at various concentrations.

On occasions I thought I had been successful ... but next Spring, up popped the horsetail, unvanquished ------ and then, as if by magic I stumbled on a treatment that worked 100% first time and the horsetail totally disappeared

--- and the material Ammonium Sulphamate , which used to be sold as Root Out.


I caqn't see it on the shelves at the garden centres, so I guess it's been banned - but I'm sure it's aqvailable if you try hard enough


!00% successful at the 1st application



I've also got an infestation and am working towards getting rid.

Action so far - chopping off at ground level 3 times over about 2 months to weaken.  All 'tops' raked up and disposed of. Once growth was up to about 6" again I've done the shuffle over the area to break/bruise the stems and sprayed with brushwood killer. Repeated the shuffle and spray a week later to get the bits I missed first time. Checked a few days later and the horse tails are looking very pale in colour and withering so it seems to be working.  Final step for now will be one more shuffle and spray followed by double layer of weed suppressing fabric and leave over winter.  I'm fortunate in that it's all come up in one area which will be used at a later date for a veg patch and isn't used for anything at present.

I bought a couple of Redcurrants from B&Q this year and luckily planted them on a big pot rather than the ground. To my horror a few weeks after repotting them a nasty Mare's Tail popped up. Suffice to say I did pluck it about 3 times and it never came up again. It was a young shoot so I must have been lucky as well as lucky that I didnt plant it in the ground. Suffice to say that the redcurrant will never be planted in the ground.

People keep telling me that bindweed is the worst, but having had an allotment with Marestail, I dreamed of bindweed.

The problem to me was that any part of the plant can grow, so any fond, or bit that is left behind can reinfect the plot.  So be vigilant about anything left behind.  The plant can stand the heat of a compost heap, so has to be destoryed in fire or disposed of safely.  This was my main problem, because clearing my spuds etc, I was terrified of putting anything in the compost in case I had inadvertantly picked up some marestail.

The roots can go truly deep.  There is an urban myth that they dug the foundations for a tower block in London, and after a few weeks the plant started to grow, from over 30 feet down! How true this is I don't know, but I think  at least the story is propogated because it emphasises the problem. 

So most 'cures' are along the lines of keep picking (definately not dig or rotavate) to attempt to deny it any light.  Also after picking add something to the broken remaining stem to, so that the poison is drawn into the root.

My grandmother did clear it from her garden many many years back.  She dug a trench over 2 foot deep laid salt along the bottom.  As the years passed she moved the trench along the garden.  Eventually the whole garden had been salted.

As mentioned above, an alternative to salt, is some sort of ammonium sulphate.  The problem with both the salt and sulphate is the damage they can do to your hard worked soil.

That said by constant picking and poisoning of the root, it can be done, just be careful not to drop any waste!


I had an infestation in my biggest bed, the soil was very heavy silt and clay and very difficult to work. I started by digging two spades deep and breaking the clods by hand, sifting every fragment I could see. It's hard work but it doesn't take too long before you are able to spot even the finer roots. This stuff, at two spades depth, was like a giant pan scourer in its density, matting throughout the heavy soil. The second year after I cleared it I had to stay on top of the new shoots and remove them as soon as I could see them.  The third year, hardly any appeared. To break the heavy soil down I introduced wood chippings (sourced from a tree felling company, deciduous is better i.m.o.) This introduces cellulose which is a superb soil conditioner. This was mixed with old horse manure. Subsequent years have made the soil a pleasure to work. Even after a wet winter the fork does most of the work. I have had good yields from my beans and incredible yields from my marrows and courgettes. Going to try Sweet corn there this year.I would say that its better to attack it late March, early April when the pale subterranien suckers are more visible. It's easier when it's been dry for a week or three. If you are determined, you will suppress it. However, when you look at how the spores are dispersed, you will realise that you will not eradicate it. The spores are like cigarette smoke and it's a safe bet that they can be found in the jetstream. Any suitably wet environment will do. It's been around for 560 million years and it's extremely good at what it does. Barriers around beds and diligence. I wouldn't ever use chemicals.

Hope this helps

Big g

I have mares tail in between all my paving slabs in the front garden, in my borders , under the hedge and its now starting to creap into the back garden. Ive used the kurtail bought from the internet and used it for last 2 years. It goes black but has always comes back up in the same place. Im at my wits end with it I thought my prayers had been answered with the kurtail but it doesnt seemed to have made any difference. In total we must have on average probably 3000 fronds thats without all the little bits between the path slabs. Does anyone know if burning it helps? 



Steve 309

Terrible stuff.  It does eventually give up if you keep removing ALL its top growth but it's so easy to miss a bit.  Sickens me when I walk past a garden or patch of unused ground where it's growing unchecked and forming spores to blow about.

I've just come across a paper about glyphosate which I'm going to put in a new thread.....

As I've found out by rueful experience, unless an infestation of marestail is very localised on your own plot, the likelihood is that it'll also be growing just over the hedge in another garden, in neighbouring allotments, or on a nearby roadside edge or field border.

While you can kill it on your own ground with repeated cutting out and/or glyphosate or other herbicide, that won't be the end of the battle. If it is still around nearby it's pretty much bound to creep back again eventually via the spreading roots that can go down incredibly deep, or by spores. You just have to stay constantly vigilant and jump on it as soon as it rears the smallest shoot.



I've been trying to beat it for 5 years, tried Progreen's Kurtail 2 years running and all it does is kill the tops, they blacken and you have a lovely clean bed until you check the roots and find they are still green inside and ready to grow again.  Indeed the following year they are up in the hundreds, not affected by Kurtail.

This year I am going to try glysophate.  Also am going to test the soil to see if it is acidic and look at liming it- anyone know how successful this is? 

Luckily my MT problem is contained in one very large walled bed- just in front of the patio. 

Saw the post re Ammonium Sulphamte works-where can you buy it?



They have brown roots, like shoe laces, and the very young are white roots, what I was referring to is the inside of the live root which is green.  If you snap a brown root if it is still live it will be green indisde.   After using Kurtail it looked dead above the surface, but under ground it was still live.


2 months after spraying- tried it 2 years in a row.  some roots are dead i.e. black inside but 90% are still live.


I have dug some up and threw them in the council garden wheelie bin and a week later can see them sprouting up ready for new sproutings.


As you can see from the photo- kurtail did nothing- other than fool you in to thinking it had worked by burning the tops off.  teh following year it was back to its normal self.
This is the photo of the bed the following spring after using Kurtail- the Kurtail had not done anything. 

Last year tried again with Kurtail - this spring up they have come again.  Originally it was called kibosh- so maybe the ingredients in that were different and worked- but not under the name Kurtail.  I can't understand how it worked for you?

Others are saying glysophate works, if the MT are trappled and a spot of washing up liquid is used in the sprayer.  The brand Roundup (gylsohate) has worked for some gardeners if used 2 years running


Buddy, 2 days ago you were recommending Gallup. Is that not a trade name for glyphosate? 


The border is a walled semi-circle on a slope, 14 m long by 6 m wide- the problem is all in the bed and only have 4 shrubs in it. 1 small  box tree, a small picea conifer and 3 potentillas, the rest is bareground other than masses of maretails, annual grass, thistles, bombsite weeds, forgetme-nots and lots of annual weeds.

Grew annual daisies when the maretails had been browned off one year. did try the green manure- hungarian rye grass- but that didn't work.

Used nearly all the bottle of kurtail, there was some for the missed few, but not that hard to miss as nothing much growing in the bed.  I cover the shrubs with industrial clingfilm.  I didn't trapple the marestails just sprayed as instructed by Progreen.

I am at my wits end with it, I just want to be able to plant here as this is the main border and next to the patio.  Even if it means waiting till next year to plant I don't mind but don't want to see another forest of it next year.

Amazingley the soil is easy to work, clay based as per the rest of the garden, but seems as though it has had sand added at some point- I believe the original owners had an alpine bed here.  Which I would love to do. 

I find an odd frone of MT elsewhere in the garden each year, but that is all- which I dig up  immediately.

The like periscope shoots in early spring,- I cover with a bag best I can and remove the top to stop the spores spreading.  Probably only avout 15-20 of those.

Just that one large border with the problem- guessing it was introduced with imported soil or manure at some point.

this year they are nearly ready to treat but this time the border has more rubbish weeds as above- too which I thought I should treat first to ensure the MT gets my full undivided attention.