How can you get rid of horse tail in your yard?

Asked June 11, 2013, 5:12 PM EDT

Hi, One of our landowners here in Washington county is looking for a way to get rid of horse tail in his yard. He says that it came into his yard from the neighbor's yard, which has a large infestation. We already reminded him that even if he can get rid of the horse tail using an herbicide, it is likely to keep coming back as long as it is in his neighbors yard. However, we get asked this question a lot and are stumped -- some of the employees here are also wondering what to do to remove horse tail. Is there an effective herbicide? Are their effective non-herbicide methods? The infestation is fairly sizable, so hand pulling alone is not sufficient. Thanks!

Washington County Oregon weed issues

5 Responses

Hello and thank you for asking about horsetail (Equisetum). Knowing this weed is a native plant doesn't make it any easier to deal with for most landowners. Although learning about the plant perhaps will make you appreciate it, this is certainly required if trying to defeat it. This Oregon State University Extension Publication "Field Horsetail and Related Species" http://extension.oregonstate.edu/catalog/pdf/pnw/pnw105.pdf is a must-read for anyone dealing with this plant. It covers how the plant grows and reproduces, and gives control options.
Recommending a control method depends on what the land is used for, in addition to the size of the problem and the landowner's preference. The energy stored in the root system takes years to deplete by killing the top parts of the plant, and any break in removing them recharges the roots all over again. The options include continual manual and/or chemical removal of the above-ground parts and shading the plant to kill the above-ground parts.
Who are you that landowners ask you about this?
If you or your landowner is using the land commercially, say farming or pasture-land, please let me know. The owner will be referred to one of our University Extension Agents, as the use of the land is a big consideration in choosing specific herbicides.
I wish there was a direct and easy solution for this plant, but no. Let me know how else I can help.

Hi Jackie!

We are the Soil and Water Conservation District (my name is Jen). This landowner is residential, not commercial.

Thanks, Jen. You can tell I got worried that there was a nursery or pasture involved, not only the person's yard. Horsetail is such a difficult plant: I saw plenty at the Oregon Garden today. I hope the Oregon State publication-link is helpful to you and the landowners you assist (and I'm sorry it isn't a solution to the problem).

Are you kidding?! This was GREAT information! Our office is full of well-educated resource conservationists who are experts on many things. But didn't have a clue how to tackle horse tail (in our yards or anyone else's!). This document helps us get a better understanding of the options. I've shared your response with our followers online and I appreciate the fantastic help you gave. :)

Well, woot! Thanks for the affirmation. Keep up the good work you do.