Horsetail

By Barbara Pleasant, June 23, 2008

Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) has been around since dinosaur days. It is a common perennial weed in the northern half of North America, especially in moist soils. Upright stems with cone-like tips bear spores, but horsetail owes its staying power to spreading roots. These often run both deep and wide, so extensive digging is needed to banish horsetail. After digging, mulch over the affected area, and cut off any new shoots at the soil line as soon as they emerge.

Weed Control Techniques

Digging. Weeds that regrow from persistent roots must be dug. Use a spade or digging fork to dig spreading perennials, such as bindweed, Canada thistle, and quackgrass. Start digging a foot away from the plant's center to loosen the soil. Then lift the weed from beneath, which reduces how many root pieces are likely to break off and regrow. Dandelion, dock, and other weeds that grow from persistent taproots can be dug the same way, or you can use a special fork-like tool called a dandelion weeder to pry them up. Dig very large taproots that are difficult to pry loose. In lawns and other places where digging dandelions is not practical, use a sharp knife to slice off the leaves and the top inch or two of taproot at a diagonal angle. Some weeds that are easily pulled when the soil is moist must be dug from dry soil.

Photo

Mulching. Mulch that's more than 2 inches thick can deprive most weed seeds of the light they need to germinate and grow. In vegetable and flower gardens, you can mulch with wheat straw (which has fewer weed seeds than hay), chopped leaves, grass clippings, or many other organic materials. Where weeds are numerous, try covering the soil with four to six sheets of newspaper. Then cover the newspapers with 2 to 3 inches of organic mulch. Pieces of scrap carpeting make a good weed-suppressing mulch to use in pathways between rows. When mulching beneath shrubs and trees, place a sheet of landscape fabric over the soil, then cover it with 3 inches of organic mulch. An edging (a 4- to 6-inch-wide strip of rot-proof material driven into the ground vertically) of brick, stone, or metal will help the mulch stay put, halt invasion by creeping weeds, and make the bed look neat and well groomed.

Photo courtesy of David Cappaert, Michigan State University, Bugwood.org

Other Broadleaf Weeds
Black Medic
Weed info for Black Medic
Broadleaf Plantain
Weed info for Broadleaf Plantain
Buckhorn Plantain
Weed info for Buckhorn Plantain
Buttonweed
Weed info for Buttonweed
Canada Thistle
Weed info for Canada Thistle
Carpetweed
Weed info for Carpetweed
Chickweed
Weed info for Chickweed
Cinquefoil
Weed info for Cinquefoil
Corn Speedwell
Weed info for Corn Speedwell
Curly Dock
Weed info for Curly Dock
Dandelion
Weed info for Dandelion
English Daisy
Weed info for English Daisy
Ground Ivy
Weed info for Ground Ivy
Hawkweed
Weed info for Hawkweed
Henbit
Weed info for Henbit
Hop Clover
Weed info for Hop Clover
Horsetail
Weed info for Horsetail
Indian Mockstrawberry
Weed info for Indian Mockstrawberry
Lambsquarters
Weed info for Lambsquarters
Mallow
Weed info for Mallow
Pigweed
Weed info for Pigweed
Prickly Lettuce
Weed info for Prickly Lettuce
Prostrate Knotweed
Weed info for Prostrate Knotweed
Purslane
Weed info for Purslane
Ragweed
Weed info for Ragweed
Shepherd's Purse
Weed info for Shepherd's Purse
Smartweed
Weed info for Smartweed
Sorrel
Weed info for Sorrel
White Clover
Weed info for White Clover
Wild Garlic
Weed info for Wild Garlic
Wild Violets
Weed info for Wild Violets
Woodsorrel
Weed info for Woodsorrel
Yarrow
Weed info for Yarrow

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