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How to Kill Snake Grass

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Snake or horsetail grass is a persistent weed with quickly spreading runners and deep-lying roots. Snake grass is so persistent that the only way to kill it off quickly is with a non-discriminatory herbicides. While prevention is the best medicine, there are some instances where snake grass persists. In these cases, continue treating consistently for at least three seasons. If the problem still exists after that time, consult your county extension office for advice on treatment.

Consistent Approach

Maintain a short lawn by moving it twice every week. Keep the snake grass below 3 inches and it will not be able to sustain its own spread and will starve to death.

Outgrow the snake grass. Fertilize your lawn monthly during its growing season and water the lawn regularly. A healthy lawn will naturally choke out the snake grass.

Apply a pre-emergent, turf-friendly herbicide onto the lawn in late fall and early spring. Pre-emergent herbicides kill snake grass before its stalks emerge from the surface.

Extreme Measures

Transplant all trees, shrubs and flowers into pots with fresh soil.

Dethatch the turf so that the soil is completely exposed. Dethatching is the process of removing the layer of built-up grass matter that sits under the grass blades but above the soil. Dethatch by raking your yard with a dethatching tool, picking up the thatch and disposing of it either in the garbage or the compost pile.

Soak the yard with a non-discriminatory herbicide. This herbicide will kill everything in the yard, including the snake grass. Rest the yard for the manufacturer’s recommended time, the re-seed the lawn.

Kill Snake Grass

Snake grass (Equisetum spp.) Also known by the common name of horsetail, this perennial weed is extremely difficult to remove after it becomes established. These roots can send up new shoots after existing stems above ground are cut down to the ground many times, even after the ground is tilled. In most cases, mowing will not completely kill this weed in less than one growing season; the exact amount of time required to completely kill snake grass depends on the size of the plants, their health and local conditions. Snake grass spreads slowly compared to regular grass, weeds with thorns and other rapidly growing plants. Reducing irrigation in areas where snake grass is spreading inhibits its growth when it is competing with drought-tolerant plants. Herbicides containing the active ingredient 2,4-D provide control over established stands of snake grass. Wear a long-sleeved shirt and pants tucked into a pair of boots to reduce the risk of accidental contact with sprayed herbicide.

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