Eradicating Horsetail Reed

Asked May 19, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT

Our neighbor's Horsetail Reeds has aggressively moved to our side of the fence.
With all of the rain we have been having, we have hundreds if not thousands of 2-3'
shoots where we had only a few last week. How do you recommend we get rid of it? I have been reading online, and it is very depressing. We have a lovely established landscape surrounding our pool where these have invaded. We are meeting with our neighbors this week and I'd like to have some suggestions as to how we can work together to solve this problem. Are concrete barriers necessary once the plants are dug up? Is it POSSIBLE to dig them up? Do you recommend spraying chemicals such as Round UP on roots? Will we have to dig up all of our mature bushes and plants to get to these root systems? HELP! Please! We want to be proactive, and get this tackled before they spread even more!

Dallas County Texas trees and shrubs weed issues horticulture

3 Responses

I hope your neighbor thinks the horse tail reed is a weed also and you can work together to get rid of this invasive plant.

Yes, a cement, fiberglass or sheet metal barrier will help. The rhizomes spread mainly during the growing season. Add the barrier where you can drench and do the less damage to existing landscape plants.

Apply a herbicide to each individual reed by using a sponge paint brush or wear a chemical resistant plastic glove with a cloth glove over it. The herbicide can be brushed onto the entire length of the reeds by dipping glove into herbicide and rubbing the reeds with the gloved hand. Not on the label but maybe faster than a sponge paint brush. Do not allow any of the herbicide to drip on any of the desirable plants. You may have to apply a herbicide more than once.

Cut back extremely on irrigation. The plants I see are very drought resistant. Create a drought. Ask neighbor to cooperate with this.

Horse Tail Reed Control

Chemical Control

Recommendations on chemical control of horsetail are mixed, with some experts saying that herbicides are only effective when applied numerous times, as the plants can resprout from the roots multiple times. Monsanto, the maker of glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup, says that because the plant has a high silica content and a waxy exterior, it just doesn't absorb herbicide well, though small infestations can be controlled by injecting the herbicide into the stems of the plants. University of California-Davis Extension advises use of 2-4,D, dichlobenil and chlorsulfuron, while University of Minnesota Extension recommends triclopyr when the plant is not in water.

Mechanical Control

While not a quick solution, horsetail can be controlled by eliminating top growth repeatedly and preventing spores from germinating. Cut off the green growth above ground on horsetail plants whenever it appears, and the plant eventually dies out. When you have a patch of horsetail that you are cultivating on purpose, you can control its spread both by repeatedly removing shoots in areas where you don't want them and by removing the shoots that produce the spore-filled cones. Do not compost the cones or any roots, though the green foliage of a horsetail plant is said to speed decomposition in a compost pile, and a tea made by steeping the plant's greenery in water can be used as an anti-fungal spray on plants susceptible to powdery mildew and blackspot.

Cultural Control

The most effective, though uncommon, approach to eliminating horsetail is to alter the conditions in which the plant is growing, to make the site inhospitable to horsetail. Horsetail thrives in wet conditions, so improve drainage by filling in low spots that hold water and install drainage ditches or small swales or dry streambeds to divert water. The plant also prefers poor, infertile soil so boost its nutrient content with chemical fertilizer or organic compost, aged manure or fish emulsion.

also call the Dallas County Master Gardener Help Desk for more ideas, 214-904-3053

We visited with our neighbor and they do not have ANY Horsetail left on their side of the fence! We are thinking that all the plants on our side are a survival response to them being cut down on their side last year. Very interesting. With all the rain we have had it is the perfect environment for them to flourish. Thank you for your response! We are getting the 2-4, D and will start trimming what we see above ground. You did not mention digging out the roots/Rhizomes in your post. Is that a bad idea? We would LOVE to not have to remove all of our mature landscape to combat this menace but if that is the best remedy to get it all out we will. What would you do if this were your problem? Thanks.

Digging is not necessary if you cut back, treat new growth with herbicide and cut back on irrigation.
Did you discuss with your neighbor how they got rid of the reed?