London (change)

Field horsetail


A deep-rooted, herbaceous weed, with tough, light-brown or green shoots that resemble pine needles. It dies back completely in winter.

Find it on: undisturbed ground, cracks in paving, walls, waste ground
Time to act: spring, summer, autumn


Field horsetail is also known as marestail. Once established, it has roots that extend to 2m deep, and spreads by means of creeping rhizomes. The plant produces light-brown stems in late spring, topped with cone-like structures, and these are followed by light-green shoots up to 60cm in height. The plant spreads among cultivated plants, making for a messy appearance and competing for water and nutrients.


A deep-rooted, herbaceous weed, with tough, light-brown or green shoots that resemble pine needles. It dies back completely in winter.


Remove rhizomes by digging as deeply as possible. The deep roots of established horsetail colonies will re-grow. Regularly removing the shoots and rhizomes as soon as they appear will weaken the plants, but total eradication requires determination over a number of years. Where horsetail is growing in grass, regular close mowing will cause it to die off, although it may persist in borders at the edge of lawns.


Spray shoots with glyphosate in summer. Tread down the shoots before spraying to bruise and crush them, which will allow the herbicide to enter the plant and be taken down to the roots.

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Talkback: Field horsetail
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MuckyPuppy 24/11/2011 at 15:29

I'll try this as I have horsetail every where. I sprayed the horsetail and other weeds in the cracks of the pavement this spring with a weed killer. This caused all the weeds to die except for the horsetail which seem is bigger and healthier without any other competition. It is now spreading to the lawn. I'll never get rid of it completely as it is coming in from the neighbour's garden.

jaye_85 24/11/2011 at 15:29

I've got a big problem with this weed aswell as all my neighbours. I just keep picking at it, making sure I grab the very bottom of the stem otherwise it just breaks off! All my neighbours are elderly and this one couple can't seem to look after their garden properly so that doesn't help. I even offered to weed their garden once a fortnight during the summer but they're not interested. So the war goes on...

Luigi 24/11/2011 at 15:29

Ive got a few more tests to do and then I will be going to companies to see if they are interested in selling my product.
Sorry i cant tell you what it is ive been working on this for the last ten years and now im coming to the final stages to help all you by putting it on the market.
Many thanks Luigi

rodway 24/11/2011 at 15:29

reserveing comment until i have had time to see how it works

tramp 24/11/2011 at 15:29

Ammonium Sulfamate (compost accelerator) seems to kill horsetail pretty effectively, just try not to spill it or overspray onto anything else green!

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