Horsetail weed, Equisetaceae, is an invasive, ancient plant that can keep property and livestock owners busy. The plant is hardy, it spreads quickly through spores instead of seed, and it can be harmful to animals if it is ingested. Horsetail weed is generally resistant to chemical herbicides; however, several removal strategies can be successful.
Cut down the plants in spring. Depending on how much horsetail weed you have, use a cutting tool, lawn mower or tractor. Repeatedly cutting down the plants before their buds have time to develop will keep the spores from shedding from the plant’s buds and creating more of the weed.
Dig the plants up with a shovel. Collect as much of the root system as possible.
Blanket the plant so it does not have access to light. This is a viable option for those who have only a few plants to remove. Blanket options include pouring black plastic mulch over the plants until they are completely buried or covering them with a black canvas tarp and securing it to the ground with garden nails. If you choose this option, be alert to new sprouts that may grow outside the blanket. This option will generally have to be repeated over several growing seasons to completely eradicate the weed.
Use organic sprays on the plants. While chemical herbicides generally do not work on horsetail weed, vinegar-based sprays sometimes do work and will kill the plant. These sprays can be purchased at home and garden centers. If this option is used you should have your soil tested after the plant has been eradicated, as heavy doses of vinegar can acidify the soil.
Work on horsetail weed removal season after season. This plant is hard to eradicate. It is a slow process, and several strategies may have to be implemented or combined over a period of a few years before the plant is no longer on your property.