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by Ros


The stems of Equisetum


I have loads of marestail in my garden. I started trying to dig it up,then read that the roots are very deep.
What is the best way to get it under control?

Comments for Dreaded Marestail

Jul 03, 2022
by: Jacki Cammidge, Certified Horticulturist

I always knew this as horsetail, but its correct botanical name is Equisetum – this is the only remaining member of its genus of Equisetaceae, which are actually ferns and reproduce by the means of spores, not seeds. Also called snake grass, scouring-rush and puzzlegrass.

I’ve seen a miniature version which is actually so pretty, it reminds me of tiny bamboo.

It is useful, not just a pernicious weed; in other countries it’s dried and used for a metal polish, or for the final sanding on fine furniture.

How to get rid of it; don’t bother digging it up. Cut the tops off, then smother it for two to three seasons with thick black poly, at least four mil (ask for that thickness of poly at the lumber yard).

There is very little else that will kill this plant off – pulling it up just pops off the top growth, leaving the roots, which re-emerge. You can try draining the area, as they love wet feet. They thrive in low pH situations with low oxygen and nutrients. This leads to the best tip on how to get rid of it; change the soil conditions to be more suited to other plants.

Add dolomite lime to the area, but realize this is not a fix on its own as Equisetum will still grow in alkaline conditions. Wait a couple of weeks, then add some compost, then plant a good competing plant.

Gardening Vibes has more great ideas, maybe one of them will be the perfect solution for you.