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We have recently moved and the garden front and back was low maintenance with tons of stone and pebbles on top of a weed suppression sheet.  I have discovered Horsetail under the the covering when it was removed, we intend to have a lawn. I have remove a large amount of Horsetail when I was creating a border, I did this with a hand fork as the roots don't seem to be too deep but it will be a long time consuming job to do it all like that as it is also in the back garden.  The soil is solid and needs to be turned over and then topsoil added before the turf. Should I remove the visible roots and then dig and then try selective weedkiller to get rid of it or hand weed it all.


Think your meant to bruise the foliage and apply glyphosate to it I think but I believe it is difficult to eradicate and deep rooted. Saying that being covered by the weed sheet may have weakened it.


It had grown through the covering but mainly it is the roots running underneath it and I thought the problem would be if I dig the roots in.

It will be a continual process with that stuff, repeated digging out and spraying and as carnsie has said bruise the stems then spray, you will if thorough get on top of it, but it will take time. Dig as much out as you can then get plenty of glysophate.

Steve 309

You have my sympathy Thomas.

I had to deal with this a few years back in a NT garden (organic; no weedkillers allowed at all).  The rhizomes (similar to roots; it's related to ferns) can be up to 2m deep so a hand fork will literally only scratch the surface.

The technique we used was to dig deeply and extract and burn as much of the stuff as poss.  If you have the time, inclination and persistence it's possible to follow the little white strands through the soil and remove them without major earthworks.  Then it'll come back after you've planted stuff, so you need to dig out and follow each bit.  We won eventually, and so willl you.



As steve has said the roots are deep, i was talking to a chap before about horsetail deep root system. Unknown to me he was a grave digger and he said  he  has found them deeper than a grave. So i wouldn't  bother trying to dig them out, i spoke to one of them people who do weed killing on the quads for the council also, i cant quite remember but i think he said bleach and salt  is effective 

Thanks  for the suggestions I thought it would take a long time to beat it

Steve 309

I should think bleach and salt together would kill most things, including gardeners!  It'll produce chlorine gas

The only thing about the salt and bleach is that it may make it difficult to grow a lawn on the area treated, but I think it is not wortwhile trying to dig it all out I may as well ignore it until after the lawn is laid and I it is cut regularly it will keep it in abeyance

We have this all over our lawn and garden. I've dug out the lawn as it was full of moss and horsetails. I guess this indicates how poor the soil is. The roots go far deeper than any herbicide will be able to reach. Glyphosate won't work. Glyphosate actually encourages field horsetail by eliminating competing plants. Horsetails love poor drainage, low oxygen, and acidic soil. You need to improve your soil by applying lime. After AT LEAST two weeks, apply horse manure. Then some nice compost. I've tried killing them with industrial grade vinegar (20%) but, like anything applied to them, it will only kill the tops and do nothing for the roots (which can go as far down as 7 meters...or over to Japan). Also, it acidifies the soil. Covering any parts of your garden with membrane or plastic will just make the roots really happy without the oxygen and horsetails will pop out everywhere along the sides. Don't do it. That's what the previous owner did here. You lift up the sheet of plastic and it is nothing but horsetail roots under there. They don't like shade so you can crowd some of them out with taller plants. From March to May you must be very vigilant and pull out any female (asparagus looking) horsetails as soon as possible as they spread thousands of spores everywhere. Do not till as it will make things worse. Every bit of root will regenerate into a new plant. We need to realise that they may never, ever fully go away. They take a lot of silicone from your soil so you can compost them after drying them out in order the replace the silicone. Try to improve your drainage by sloping the land away from your property and adding some ditches for the water to flow down. Some simply say it is best to pull out what you can and then just deal with them. The roots go so far down that they don't compete too much with plants for nutrients (allegedly) and the best thing to do is encourage them to move along by improving the soil. Very hard to do if your neighbour has them. Now that our lawn has been dug up, I've been trying to figure out what to do next. There are still tons of roots out there, but we're going to apply lime, then a layer of gravel to help drainage. Then manure, then some compost, and then turf. If anyone has any other would be much appreciated.

The roots were running under the weed suppressant cover which had small stones and pebbles on it but it was still growing through it, I have removed most of the suppressant cover and the soil is really compacted very hard underneath.  I am going to dig in the pebbles in the front garden and small stones in the back at least a ton of each then I thought I would try and get about a ton of small gravel or sharp sand and then cover it with topsoil before turfing it.  Where I have already made a border and started a veg plot in the back I go round each morning looking for the shoots and when I find them I remove them with all or as much root as I can get.  I know I may not win as it is in the gardens on both sides and at the back but I will try.  I got some Verdone extra concentrate weedkiller and treated some horse tail that had come through the tarmac at the edge of the front gate I damaged it with the back of a trowel and also pulled the top off some then sprayed it with the weedkiller, it looks black now but I don't know yet if it has killed it ( maybe the top but not the roots) ?  

Roger  Brook

It's all been said, it is a very difficult weed. I have successfully controlled it with glyphosate but it has taken three years and that has been tackling intact plantings (rather than chopped up pieces that grow erratically) and starting with large horsetails with lots of receptive leaves. Their are lots of wrinkles to enhance absorption of glyphosate as other comments indicate. It is impossible  to eliminate if it is growing amongst established herbaceous plants. Under a higher canopy of shrubs it will still take three or more years but at least you can enjoy the shrubs.

On allotments some gardeners just regularly hoe it and think of all those lovely nutrients the horsetail is mining from seven foot down. It will keep coming from the roots but the hoed off tops will not grow!

I wonder if the lawn is mown often enough that you can live with this dreadful weed.

That seems the answer is too keep removing it, I had read that bruising it helped with the absorption of the weedkiller I have also been making sure I remove all the tops into the council green bin on the basis that the tops may regrow if left in the soil.  I thought that any plant needed sunlight to grow so by removing the tops it should weaken the roots!


NO TILLING?? EEEK!! Looks I'm going to have a bumper "crop" of horsetail this year, me thinks. 

How are you getting on Thomas Johnson?


flowering rose

it has under ground root system so its going to be a hard job but your going to have to dig it out making sure you don't  break or leave any part behind as it will re-grow,its up to you if you use chemicals  I rather avoid.In the olden days they used as the brillo pad of its day.


Hi dking, i looked at your previous posts and see you posted that you had an allotment full of horsetail in 2011. Has this product completely removed it ?



Ha Ha, I love the change of name. Kibosh is now called Kurtail 

Does that mean it doesn't Kibosh it, but only curtail it?

Hi Sessi

I keep searching for any new shoots where I have already made borders and I keep digging it out using a hand fork in the hope I get all or most of it, I think I am a little lucky as the roots have run under the weed suppressant covering without going more than 6 inches down the problem is some roots run under the path.