Horsetail removal can be a nightmare once it becomes established in the landscape. The horsetail family ( Equisetum ) includes over 30 ancient plant species. Long ago, horsetail, also known as horseweed, cattail, and ponytail, was the predominant plant on earth and is said to have grown very large. There are two forms of this perennial weed today. Read on to learn more about how to control field horsetail.
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How can you fight field horsetail?
Removing roots: effective methods
The horsetail can often be found in fields, ponds and along roads. Unfortunately, it can also spread in your garden. Eliminating horsetail weed from your outdoor space is no easy task. Horsetail weed can be a major problem because this plant has enormous roots (with rhizomes) that are difficult to remove by hand. Rhizomes that grow near the surface can be dug up, but deeper roots require a lot of excavation. Occasional surface weeding is not effective and may exacerbate the problem as the plant may regrow from the small pieces left behind. However, removing shoots as soon as they appear above ground can reduce infestations if done over several years.
In small areas, it may be possible to dig up the plant by the roots. When doing this, all roots must be removed or the weed will reappear. However, if cattail occurs in lawns, it can be kept in check by regular mowing.
Are chemical remedies a good idea?
Horsetail infestations can be controlled with weed killers. Above all, it is very important that you use only natural means to get rid of the weed, if possible. Get good information from your garden center about which agent will not kill the other plants. In open ground where there are no perennials, bulbs or crops, you can use chemical agents to prevent new growth.
Strong weed killers containing glyphosate can be used in late summer when growth occurs. Crush shoots with a rake before application to ensure effective penetration. Remember, horsetail is stubborn and multiple applications – possibly over several years – may be required to completely eliminate the problem.
Kill horsetail with plastic sheeting.
You can smother the plant with a large plastic tarp to kill it. Leave the plastic on for at least one gardening season. This should cause the horsetail to die under the plastic.
Control field horsetail – improve the soil.
The best way to prevent this field horsetail from spreading in your garden is prevention. You should improve your outdoor area that does not drain optimally. Keep tillage to a minimum around horsetail, as this will cause spores to spread.
Ponytail thrives in poorly drained areas with acidic soil (typically sandy or clay soils). The following practices will help modify soil conditions to make them more suitable for desirable plants and less suitable for field horsetail.
- Improve drainage
You can improve drainage by filling in boggy or low spots with additional soil. Dig drainage ditches to divert runoff from your lawn or garden. Constantly wet areas are a haven for horsetail and usually a death sentence for the plants or grasses you want to grow.
- Use dolomite lime
Cattail thrives in acidic environments. Lime reduces the acidity of the soil, so the weed can’t thrive as well in less acidic conditions. By changing the soil chemistry, you can also make your other plants healthier, thus displacing the tinweed. Just be sure to follow the instructions on the package of the dolomite lime you buy before you use it.
- Finally – fertilizing
Two weeks after applying the dolomite lime, you should fertilize your soil. If you apply lime and fertilizer at the same time, the lime and nitrogen will work against each other. Pour the lime into the soil, wait at least 14 days, and then fertilize with a slow-release fertilizer with a high nitrogen content. The fertilizer won’t kill the weeds, but it will encourage growth of the desired plants and change the conditions for field horsetail.
Fighting field horsetail with home remedies
- With vinegar
Killing horsetail with vinegar is a DIY remedy that only works well for a short time. Pour a 10 percent concentration of vinegar on the base of the plant and the soil surrounding it. However, this will only rid your lawn of horsetail for a short time.
- With salt
You can also control horsetail with salt, but you need to know that no other plant can grow in that spot. Therefore, the use of a salt solution to get rid of field horsetail in gardens is not recommended. Here’s how you can produce a home remedy for cat’s-tail yourself: Add 1 kg of table salt to 11 l of boiling water and soak the weed with this solution. You may need to use this solution three or four times for it to be effective. You will see that the leaves of the horsetail turn brown after spraying with this solution.