Invasive weed?

Asked May 29, 2018, 1:56 PM EDT

Hello! Help! My garden is being overtaken by this weed. It has underground runners. The garden is mostly sand, on the shore of Hess Lake in Newaygo, MI. I've tried pulling it out (you can't get all of the root), and even digging it out (still can't get all of the root) and it springs back even worse. It has grown up everywhere in the garden (maybe 300 shoots of it) amid my perennials. The stem is sort of woody, and the shoots get 6-8" tall. It is in both my shade and sun gardens (although it is worse in my shade garden, which is all sand near the water). I'm at a loss and could really use some advice on how to get rid of this, please help! Thank you!

Newaygo County Michigan

3 Responses

What you are battling is Horsetail (Equisetum arvense). This is an extremely difficult plant to eradicate and will take more than few years of persistence to accomplish control. Horsetail has a deep rhizome system that is made up of creeping rhizomes and storage tubers. Rhizomes can reach up to 6 ft in depth in the soil profile. Rhizome fragments, as small as 1 inch, can produce new plants so pulling up horsetail just starts new plants when those fragments are left behind. I am providing detailed information below regarding different control methods. Be sure to read and follow the label on any herbicide product. Since you are near the water some of these products may not be suitable near aquatic life but the label should tell you. You may want to try the method mentioned in the Washington state document:

Here is the excerpt:

“Use of landscape fabric can help horsetail from getting established in an area because germinating spores can’t grow through the fabric. Covering an infested area with fabric can help suppress re-growth but, because of their aggressive rhizomes, they often run to the edge of the fabric and emerge there. Layers of bark mulch, sawdust, or other plant material will not control horsetail. For established patches, efforts should be directed at depleting the food reserves in the rhizomes. Complete removal of the tops about 2 weeks after each emergence for 3 to 4 years has provided effective control. Tilling can make the problem worse by spreading the rhizomes into new areas”.

I am providing more information in the following links.

There is no easy method in eradicating horsetail and it will take years to gain control. I wish I had better news for you. If you have any further questions don’t hesitate to contact AaE again.

Barbara, thanks for taking the time to respond, I really appreciate it.