Mares Tail battle!

Discussion in 'Pests, Diseases and Cures' started by MadMare, Jun 11, 2019 at 8:06 PM.

  1. MadMare

    MadMare Apprentice Gardener

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    I have an ongoing issue with a growth of Mares Tail in my rear garden which (thankfully) isn't much of a garden as some years ago, not being a gardener i decided to have it removed and made "easy maintenance" so it's just covered with loose chippings.

    But over the years i've had a growth of Mares Tail which despite my efforts to keep it down, has pretty much taken over now. I've contacted a couple of professionals to come and look it over but expecting their price to be fairly hefty.

    I've looked around on the internet and found a product called Diamond and described as Super Concentrated Mares Tail weed killer. Sorry i can't link as yet but its sold by HSD online at £48.98 for 5 litres.

    I'm told that professionals have access to and licenced to use much stronger industrial chemical than what the public can buy, so am sceptical if any DIY stuff will work, especially as i've already spent a lot trying various weedkillers from garden centres, none of which worked at all.
    So i've come to the forum of experts for help!! :please:
     
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    • mazambo

      mazambo Super Gardener

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      • MadMare

        MadMare Apprentice Gardener

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        Yes i know. I just couldn't link it in that post being a "newbie" until i've scored a few points! :biggrin:

        Any thoughts on it?
         
      • mazambo

        mazambo Super Gardener

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        Yes I realise, just thought I'd post the link so that people can take a look if they wish too:blue thumb: No I haven't unfortunately but I do have an interest as i have the beginning of a problem with it.
         
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        • MadMare

          MadMare Apprentice Gardener

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          Oh sorry.....cheers for that anyway! Also just noticed i'm not a million miles away from you too. If you only have the 'beginning' then God help you as it only gets worse each year...mine is practically like a field now and looks as though it's at full height now. The consistent rain doesn't help.
           
        • shiney

          shiney President, Grumpy Old Men's Club Staff Member

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          Unfortunately you now have a fairly big problem. It spreads by underground rhizomes and also by spores in the Spring.

          It's easier for me to give you these two links

          Field horsetail | www.gardenorganic.org.uk

          Horsetail / RHS Gardening

          It's a long job to get rid of it. You'll never do it completely but you can keep it under control. In the Spring you need to remove everything above ground. Hoeing is not a good idea as you will leave and spread bits that will propagate. You pull them and bag them. The best way to pull them is to gently pull directly upwards and not yank them out as the stems break easily. Pulling upwards gently not only removes most of the stems but can also remove some of the part below ground.

          Weed killing later in the year:- you need to bruise the surface of the stems otherwise the weedkiller just slides off. They usually say rake it but I prefer to whack it with the back of a spade. It does a better job and also makes you feel better.

          I have almost eradicated it and nowadays just go on weekly horsetail patrol (mares tail is a different plant that grows in water). I go round the garden with a bucket and gently pull anything sticking its head above ground. Grip it where he stem meets the ground to get the best chance of removing some of it below the surface.
           
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          • MadMare

            MadMare Apprentice Gardener

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            Blimey Shiney....having read your post and links i'm on the verge of manic depression now! :mad:

            Roundup was one weedkiller i spent a small fortune on. Not cheap and it never even got close to touching it. In fact the only thing i found which did work was a Sheen Flamegun. But that only kept them at bay for a few months then they sprout again in summer. I'd nuke the damn things but somehow think that might make me unpopular with the neighbours who already moan at me using the Flamegun. :scratch:
             
          • Mike Allen

            Mike Allen Super Gardener

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            Believe it or not but. I've lived here since 1964. The garden had become a tip due to the previous resident having attained a ripe old age and passed away.

            Mares Tail did put in an appearance once some years back. I forked it out and thankfully that was it. Of late, I have been plagued with grabweed. Never mind.

            Yes in many cases for professionals, stronger, more potent chemicals are available. Due to the extra cost and regulations etc, many pro's will simply double or even trebble the dosage of what you and I buy from the GC. It has to be noted that, chemical weed control can be hit and miss at times. One of todays main chemicals is glysomate. This when sprayed or drenched onto vegetation will be absorbed through the plant and in most cases will find it's way to the roots. Resulting in the death of the plant. Naturally the surrounding soil is also treated. Fear not. Glyphosate is neutralised as soon as it comes in contact with the soil. So you could treat an area of weeds with and at the same time sow seeds.

            Perhaps the question now arises. How far down the plant and roots does the chemical remain active?
             
          • Sian in Belgium

            Sian in Belgium Total Gardener

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            I totally agree with @shiney .

            In our last rental property, we had an area of horsetail about 3 metres by 8 metres which was so vigorous, the ivy it grew amongst was unable to thrive.

            Using Shiney’s gentle weeding method (finger and thumb gently at the base of the plant, and pull gently directly up, putting all the bits that come away direct into a carrier bag, and bin. I did this throughout the growing season, concentrating on a strip at a time. I would set myself a patch, maybe 50x50cm, and would clear it in a weeding session. Some days I would do one “square” other days I would do a strip as long as border. Before tackling a new area, I would quickly check over the already semi-cleared area. Over 7 years I had pretty much cleared the border of horsetail. Not eradicated, as a few shoots came up each year. But by June/July I could fairly confidently work the area, without seeing any horsetail. I would not transplant plants from that area to areas without horsetail, but that was about it.

            To be honest, I think that the gravel on the area is going to make your task harder. Difficult to move it now, with the horsetail rampant, but next winter, when it’s below ground, I would remove the gravel to one side, so you can weed it easier.

            If it’s any consolation, my battle against horsetail was much more successful than against the ground elder, that prevailed in a different area of the garden!
             
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            • shiney

              shiney President, Grumpy Old Men's Club Staff Member

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              I agree with @Sian in Belgium (we're a mutual admiration society) and noxious weeds need method and determination.

              @MadMare all is not lost but attacking it regularly is essential, particularly at this time of year. Although Glyphosate is a strong weedkiller it is not much good if it can't penetrate the outer part of the weed. The silica in Horsetail creates a surface barrier that just lets the chemical run off, which is why 'bruising' is recommended.

              This is the peak growing time for it so 'gentle pulling' on a methodical and very regular basis is essential. I used to allocate an hour a week in the peak growing season (I have a big garden) to it but now it only takes about 15 minutes. Digging is a waste of time and counter productive.

              When bruising and weedkilling you need to leave the plant for at least two weeks before removing the bruised plants. That will also give it some time to grow further so you can 'pull' at the same time.

              The plant goes back to prehistoric times (I remember those well) so has a long history of successful growing.

              Don't let the B.....s get you down! Persistence wins.
               
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              • Liz the pot

                Liz the pot Gardener

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                As shiney pointed out thats not ideal for mares. There was a product called Kurtail but now thats been removed and they do another with the same ingredients as the one you have listed. The old one was very good but can't be used now. Both are for trained users only sadly so not meant for domestic use.
                the old one was using glufosinate-ammonium and had the following warning.


                DANGER.
                Harmful if swallowed. Toxic in contact with skin. Causes serious eye damage. May damage fertility. Suspected of damaging the unborn child. May cause damage to organs (nervous system) through prolonged or repeated exposure if swallowed. Obtain special instructions before use.
                Wear protective gloves/protective clothing/eye protection/face protection. IF exposed or concerned: Get medical advice/attention. IF IN EYES: Rinse cautiously with water for several minutes. Remove contact lenses, if present and easy to do. Continue rinsing. Dispose of contents/container to a licensed hazardous- waste disposal contractor or collection site except for empty clean containers which can be disposed of as non-hazardous waste.


                Not a nice chemical and you can see why its gone now.
                 
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                • noisette47

                  noisette47 Total Gardener

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                  Zooming in on the container, it's a combination of 2.4,D and glyphosate. If the mares tail is trodden over or whacked beforehand, there's no reason it wouldn't work, eventually. I've kept mares tail at bay (it's flourishing in the neighbouring field) for 13 years with minimal treatment and hand weeding. Unfortunately, the farmers here treat the fields, then cultivate soon after. They don't allow time for the roots to be thoroughly killed off, so they just chop them up and spread them around. Same with bindweed and field thistle.
                  In your situation, MadMare, you'd be able to treat the stuff and leave it, as you're not planning on re-planting with anything? Ditto for when it re-appears. I doubt you'd need more than 3 treatments.
                   
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                  • Sian in Belgium

                    Sian in Belgium Total Gardener

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                    I just want to stress that you can get horsetail under control without using weed killer, just persistent removal.

                    (And I will keep calling it horsetail, which is the land-based weed, as distinct from marestail, which is an aquatic oxygenating plant)
                     
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                    • JWK

                      JWK Gardener

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                      As others have said you can control it with perseverance. You don't need that expensive stuff, you can buy glyphosate at Wilkos. Their brand is less concentrated so rather than spray it, apply it carefully using a brush to individual growing points.

                      Better still is the poly bag method, put a little into plastic sandwich bag and tie that around the stems. You must bruise the stems first as shiney says otherwise any weedkiller is shrugged off like water off a ducks back.

                      I've heard of people using syringes to inject glyphosate but that would be time consuming.
                       
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                      • MadMare

                        MadMare Apprentice Gardener

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                        Thanks for all the replies....as depressing reading they make i can't much further down than this mess which i feel i'm fighting a losing battle against. With the rotten weather (yesterday rained non-stop thru night and day). it seems to have gathered pace in growth. To show you what i'm up against i've just taken a photo....and yes at the far back is yet another problem i have....the dreaded conifers which the neighbour who backs on to me, planted slap bang up against the fence to spite me after i made an objection to an extension he's built which overlooked my property. Those things now overhang my fence and though i can find someone who will trim them back, i can't get anyone who will do it and remove the cuttings.

                        Anyone got any napalm going spare? :mad:


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                        Last edited: Jun 12, 2019 at 3:46 PM
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