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Mares Tail - how to win

Posted: 21/08/2013 at 15:04

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. 


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