Gardening expert shares how to ‘weaken’ weeds that are ‘almost impossible’ to remove

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Perennial weeds can be difficult to remove, especially if they’re deep-rooted or in between paving slabs. Horsetail is a perennial weed that is both invasive and deep-rooted. If left, it can spread very quickly and crowd out less robust plants.

While it is incredibly difficult to remove, it is possible if you persevere.

Gardening expert Catherine Mansley of BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine explained in a video for Gardeners’ World how to “weaken” the weed.

She explained: “Horsetail is difficult to get rid of, and it can take years.

“It spreads by creeping underground stems called rhizomes.

“One plant can cover a massive area.

“So just killing off the bit in your garden won’t affect the parts of the plant in neighbouring gardens.

“The roots can be two metres deep so digging them out is almost impossible.

“Occasional, light weeding can actually make matters worse because the plant can re-grow from any small bits of plant that are left behind.

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“You can weaken horsetail with systemic weed killer if you crush the weeds first to help the weed killer to be absorbed.

“But you’ll need to do this regularly over several years to stand any chance of eradicating it.

“If you don’t want to use weed killer you can help to reduce the infestation by regularly hoeing and cutting the shoots as soon as they appear above ground.”

Horsetail, also known as mare’s tail, usually appears in spring and summer and can be removed in late summer.

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The weed looks a bit like a fern with tree-like shoots and bright green strands.

It’s not particularly tall in spring but can grow up to 60cm tall in the summer.

The weed loves moist soil but it can also be found in fields, wooded areas, gravely soil and even in cracks and walls.

Some gardening experts recommend smothering the plant with a plastic sheet for one garden season to oust it.

Others suggest trying a glyphosate weed killer which will kill most plants.

If you have horsetail in any grass then you will need to mow it regularly for it to die off.

The weed does die back in winter but it will reappear in spring if the roots are left.

Examples of this include Doff Super Strength Advanced Glyphosate Weedkiller and Roundup Fast Action Pump N Go Total Weedkiller.

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