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09/07/2013 at 13:28

Hello.  No green fingers here but I can follow one syllable instructions, honest.

I have an influx of Mare’s Tail from under next door initially but now it has taken hold in a rockery and needs remedial asap. I guess I need to try & get a barrier in there first of all – will Visqueen be strong enough for this below soil level?

For info, the rockery is approx. a 2’ span across a 2’ drop from a lawn to the top and flags / patio to the base.

Initially, I have gone ‘scorched earth’ on the middle bit (taken the large rocks out to the top and middle and dug the lot over several times – being as careful as possible to get all the roots as well.)

Plan for the middle bit (the ‘bed’): is to leave this open short-term and spot any shoots and re-dig. Then Visqueen the lot (other black plastic sheeting is available) and leave for 12 months. I can then abandon the bed and fill with decorative gravel / stones & pots or try again.

That said, I have seen a similar problem at an allotment where they carpeted the lot but only for the MT to emerge everywhere around the edges (so I guess they haven’t dug it also). Any shoots underneath weren’t 100% dead either. Any other tactics please?

Plan for the lawn: when digging the rockery below, I have unearthed some meaty old roots heading into & under the lawn – eeek.

If I dig these along and into the lawn, I doubt I’ll ever get them all out anyway (little blighters break as easy as) and make a right old mess of the lawn. So as well as mowing and picking every head as it emerges, can I treat the roots with something direct (i.e. soak them in a weed killer)? Or is that too Heath Robinson?

(Strangely enough while some of the MT has emerged in the lawn, the bigger, stronger, beefier shoots have sprouted in the far bed(s). So does it cleverly miss the lawn and risk of mowing and head for open soil?)

Plan for the base of the rockery: this is anchored by some big unit rocks at the bottom (unsurprisingly) and getting these out will mean a digger and / or a damn good osteopath (not easy) but the roots clearly go under these and up and out in the pea gravel channel before the flags and even under some of the flags in places – eek.

So can I treat these with a weed killer (crush the shoots first to break the waxy seal) or will I have to remove the rocks / lift the flags and dig first as well? I am obviously keen to get rid of it under any flags but obviously don’t want to disturb them as they never go back correctly?

Finally, what is the best weed killer please?

Thanks in anticipation.

p.s.  although I now hate Mare’s Tail with a passion, I do, now have a bizarre & grudging respect for its refusal to die.

09/07/2013 at 13:34

Best weedkiller is glyphosate mixed with a bit of fairy liquid to make it wet, otherwise with mares tails it just rolls off.  Stamp on the mares tails a bit to break the stems and make is easier for the glyphosate to be absorbed.

Constant mowing ( at least once a week) in a lawn will kill it.

No idea about the barrier , never heard of it.

Talk to your neighbour about clearing his side at the same time.

 

09/07/2013 at 13:45
fidgetbones wrote (see)

Best weedkiller is glyphosate mixed with a bit of fairy liquid to make it wet, otherwise with mares tails it just rolls off.  Stamp on the mares tails a bit to break the stems and make is easier for the glyphosate to be absorbed.

Constant mowing ( at least once a week) in a lawn will kill it.

No idea about the barrier , never heard of it.

Talk to your neighbour about clearing his side at the same time.

 

Thanks Fidget.

 

Visqueen is just a brand name for heavy black plastic sheeting - the stuff farmer use for silage clamps, so heavy, heavy duty.

You can tell i'm a novice by this Q though: is glyphosate the active ingredient to look for in a weedkiller or a brand name itself? (I'm guessing the former).

Thanks,

 

Edit: oops, i just did the obvious and googled it & it's a brand. OK, on the shopping list.

09/07/2013 at 13:50

Visqueen make a number of plastic membranes usually used in the building trade (eg for damp proof courses.)  I think you would be better off using landscaping fabric (not weed membrane) which is strong and designed to prevent weed roots penetrating but will still let water through.  Good advice from FB regarding how to use glyphosate on mares tail - just spraying without roughing the tails up a bit won't work.  The good thing about glyphosate is it is absorbed into all of the weed tissue including the roots (which is the bit you need to kill of course.)  Once done, leave it until the tails die down completely and come away easily.  You will have to repeat if new growth appears later (which it probably will) but you will eventually be rid of it.

Edit: Just saw your reply which appeared as I was typing.  Glyphosate is the active ingredient - the most common brand is "Roundup".

 

 

09/07/2013 at 14:07
BobTheGardener wrote (see)

Visqueen make a number of plastic membranes usually used in the building trade (eg for damp proof courses.)  I think you would be better off using landscaping fabric (not weed membrane) which is strong and designed to prevent weed roots penetrating but will still let water through.  Good advice from FB regarding how to use glyphosate on mares tail - just spraying without roughing the tails up a bit won't work.  The good thing about glyphosate is it is absorbed into all of the weed tissue including the roots (which is the bit you need to kill of course.)  Once done, leave it until the tails die down completely and come away easily.  You will have to repeat if new growth appears later (which it probably will) but you will eventually be rid of it.

Edit: Just saw your reply which appeared as I was typing.  Glyphosate is the active ingredient - the most common brand is "Roundup".

 

 

Thanks also Bob. I was right fter all - it is the active ingreient but there is also one called Glyphosate (by Bayer i think) just to confuse people like me.

When googling, i have also found plenty of peolple swearing that Glyphosate doesn;'t work on MT but they don't say if they have roughed up the shoots first.

The ones they recommend (Kibosh / Timbrel?) are an absolute fortune so I would like a more cost effective approach if possible. 

So deos that definitely work then doing that (roughing up the shoots)?

Thanks.

Edit:

Oh and ref the visqueen, this is an agri one (as i say used by farmers for silage clamps that i have already got. And as the barrier i need will essentially be vertical (down along the fence) it just needs to be impermeable and not required to pass water?

09/07/2013 at 14:07

When I was young and still full of optimism about life in general and gardening in particular I bought a house with mare's tail in the garden. In those days you could buy sodium chlorate by the bucketful and it was used to keep drives permanently clear of any form of plant life. It killed everything stone dead except the mare's tail. Someone suggested concreting the drive and paving the garden. After months of cutting it, poisoning it and cursing it I did that. Five years later I thought "it must be dead by now" and took up one of the paving slabs. There it was, coiled round like miles of electricity cable, waiting for its chance to grow again.

An old coal miner neighbour told me that they sometimes found the roots 50 feet or more below ground.

You'll control it but you'll never beat it!

09/07/2013 at 14:13

You old cynic Butts : ) !

But you are probably right sadly. I have heard that too about the mines. 

Mine even has the temerity to pop up through the cracks in the flags, so at least yours was tame !

As i say the "sure fire" (yeah, right) ones are an absolute fortune, so i think i'm into "management" of it if i can't have all out "extermination" !

09/07/2013 at 14:35

If the areas are completely clear of anything else you want to grow then make the soil inhospitable to growth. Use a heavy salt solution. Mares tail cannot grow in that. Just mix salt in a watering can and keep on it til it gives up. Cheap too.

09/07/2013 at 18:50
waterbutts wrote (see)

When I was young and still full of optimism about life in general and gardening in particular I bought a house with mare's tail in the garden. In those days you could buy sodium chlorate by the bucketful and it was used to keep drives permanently clear of any form of plant life. It killed everything stone dead except the mare's tail. Someone suggested concreting the drive and paving the garden. After months of cutting it, poisoning it and cursing it I did that. Five years later I thought "it must be dead by now" and took up one of the paving slabs. There it was, coiled round like miles of electricity cable, waiting for its chance to grow again.

An old coal miner neighbour told me that they sometimes found the roots 50 feet or more below ground.

You'll control it but you'll never beat it!

 

Actually Waterbutts, are you saying you can't get sodium chlorate as a weedkiller any more? I think I still have some of that.

 

09/07/2013 at 18:51

Oops, messed that reply up but the question still applies.

09/07/2013 at 20:07

sodium chlorate will kill the ground for three years. Its persistent and will bleed sideways into other flower beds.

09/07/2013 at 20:15

I tread on mare tail and spray with Resolva24h, works a treat in a few days.

09/07/2013 at 22:17

sodium chlorate used to be a bit different in the old days. It used to say in big letters on the pack "DO NOT MIX WITH SUGAR" (as if that idea would ever have crossed your mind normally) This was because it became highly explosive if mixed in said way. Unfortunately I think the IRA worked out the possibilities because it was suddenly taken off the shelves. When it next appeared the message about sugar had gone so I think it has been modified in some way. Plus the packs are now small not catering size as in the old days.

10/07/2013 at 00:34

Not sure where the 50ft of root came from  RHS says 7ft. Can't say I've ever dug all the way down to see how far it goes tho.

11/07/2013 at 10:31

As i have dug & removed the heavy stones at the bottom, i can see some roots go through the pea gravel trench and immediatly under the patio flags. These flags have been (well) laid on dry sand cement that has gone off, so ideally I don't want to lift or move these if at all possible. 

How they can grow / spread through this I don't know but they do. Obviously I can cut the roots off as they go under at the edge but by doing that, will they actually survive under there as, the roots have come from the soil beds, where I assume they took the required nutrients, water? Or will they just re- root under there (as I say, there is a good depth of sand & cement).

Equally, at the top, roots shoot off under the lawn, I have not cut these yet and wondered if I could treat the roots as opposed to the foliage? Maybe sit hem in a weed emailer suction a lot solution? 

Also, I have seen elsewhere that some people have used vinegar to spray the foliage, anyone confirm if that works?

Thanks.

11/07/2013 at 10:40

My goodness, must check posts first (& damn you, auto correct)

So this one:

Equally, at the top, roots shoot off under the lawn, I have not cut these yet and wondered if I could treat the roots as opposed to the foliage? Maybe sit hem in a weed emailer suction a lot solution? 

 Was actually:

Equally, at the top, roots shoot off under the lawn, I have not cut these yet and wondered if I could treat the roots as opposed to the foliage? Maybe sit them in a weed killer solution?  

 

11/07/2013 at 10:42
waterbutts wrote (see)

sodium chlorate used to be a bit different in the old days. It used to say in big letters on the pack "DO NOT MIX WITH SUGAR" (as if that idea would ever have crossed your mind normally) This was because it became highly explosive if mixed in said way. Unfortunately I think the IRA worked out the possibilities because it was suddenly taken off the shelves. When it next appeared the message about sugar had gone so I think it has been modified in some way. Plus the packs are now small not catering size as in the old days.

Bit like 'old' and 'new' creosote then Butts? I am always told the new stuff isn't as good as it used to be.

so is the new sodium chlorate not as effective Either?

11/07/2013 at 14:14

I think its just so daft pratts don't get bright ideas. Same reason you find it difficult to get flowers of sulphur, iron filings, and various other chemicals.

11/07/2013 at 14:27

I'm not a great fan of weedkiller but when I need to use it, I think the only weedkiller worth having is Resolva. I find Roundup useless. Horsetail will find it's way round Visqueen (know the stuff well) as it will find it's way round and through  most things unfortunately! Once you have it in your plot you just have to accept you need to work at keeping it at bay. Smothering (where possible) and pulling it out or constanly chopping it off if you don't want to use chemicals. We had it growing up through the pond at our last house, coming from the surrounding banks, and was impossible to deal with. We could only keep on top of it as best we could. Waterbutts is right- it'll sit there waiting to sprout - coiled up and tangled through everything, and just keeps travelling underground till it finds alittle chance to break through.

No wonder it's survived since the dinosaurs! 

11/07/2013 at 20:48

Not sure crushing the stems is the best way to rough them up. I'd try scraping the sides with a Stanley knife blade, or even slicing them longitudinally. You could also get the weedkiller to stay on them by soaking a scrap of cloth in it, wrapping that around the shoot and bagging it there. Both together ought to get the stuff in. Whether it works applied directly to roots I don't know.

Ammonium nitrate's another one the IRA liked. Mix that with fuel oil and you get ANFO, popular stuff for blasting. Mix it with nitromethane and you get ANNM, which is even better or worse, depending mostly on who's using it for what. I don't think that's a good approach to your weeds, through. It'd just scatter viable root fragments ... and rocks.

If it does come to relaying the flags, we found that two bits of thin rope really help, because two people can each hold one end of each rope, cradling the flag between them, to raise and lower it without gouging the sand.

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