How to Get Rid of Horsetail

Updated April 17, 2017

Horsetail, also known as scouring rush, is considered an irritating weed by many gardening and lawn enthusiasts. The variety of species means there is a garden weed for every climate and locale, with some varieties stretching to 10 feet tall. Getting rid of the horsetail plant and preventing it from taking over the lawn is a matter of putting horsetail maintenance into your gardening routine and making your yard an inhospitable environment.

Use a soil testing kit available at home and garden centres nationwide to determine the relative acidity of your soil and make adjustments. The garden centre can recommend which additives will increase or decrease acidity and help you create a balanced, nutritional soil that deters the growing of horsetail.

Consider the creation of your own compost heap and use the humus to provide topsoil with necessary vitamins and minerals. Consistent composting helps maintain a rich soil bed that does not attract the growth of horsetail weeds.

Push down on the horsetail weed with your foot, spray with a nitrogen-rich weed killer and cover with a piece of thick cardboard. This will make it impossible for the weed to reassert itself and, if finished off with a layer of mulch for weight and to aid in decomposition, the horsetail will become compost. Always use organic weed killers.

Use white vinegar in a spray bottle to saturate the offending horsetail and kill off the plant. Be sure to soak the soil at the base of the plant thoroughly to ensure the vinegar reaches the roots.

Deter growth at the beginning of the growing season by using a cultivator to turn over the soil and rip and tear old roots, weeds and plants. Mulching the garden in this manner can help prevent the growing of horsetail and other weeds.

Snap off all seed heads as soon as they are visible to prevent the seeds falling into the topsoil. This does not eliminate the horsetail; instead, it reduces the numbers, making it easier for you to deal with the mature plants.

Acknowledge that you may not get rid of all the horsetail in your yard but can vastly reduce its numbers and make your garden an inhospitable place to live.

Things You'll Need

  • Soil test
  • Compost
  • Nitrogen
  • Mulch
  • Cardboard
  • Spray bottle
  • Vinegar
  • Cultivator
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About the Author

Trish Popovitch is a freelance writer with 10 years of professional writing experience and a degree in the social sciences. A former print journalist and current blogger and magazine writer, her content writing is a reflection of her varied background.