Killing horsetail with fire

Killing horsetail with fire

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Horsetail is a serious pest; it always seems to find a way to come back. This invasive, deep routed weed can spread quickly and grow back year after year, even after extensive use of weed killers. Horsetail has rhizomes which live undergrowth then send up quick growing green shoots which crowd out anything else in the vicinity.

Killing Horsetail With Fire In Article

Why is Horsetail hard to kill?

One big issue with Horsetail is that the rhizomes can be deep underground, really deep. Sometimes they can go as deep as 2m, making them almost impossible to dig out. This also means they can invade your garden by coming under fences and even walls.

Why don’t weedkiller work?

They can, but you will have to apply them year after year. Putting dangerous chemicals into your garden for years is not a route I personally like to go down. For this reason, I have tried to find alternative ways of killing Horsetail.

Killing Horsetail with fire

This is my favourite way to kill Horsetail. A high powered weed burner will do the job quickly and easily. The Horsetail will come back, but if you burn it off as soon as the shoots appear, then you will be continually damaging the weed. After a few seasons, you will notice that the shoots stop coming back as you have weakened the rhizomes by repeated burning of the shoots.

What tools to use


You want a weed burner, and not just any weed burner, for large infestations a gas-powered burner will do the job. You want one that connects to a gas canister. Sometimes called roofers torches, they blast out some severe heat and make weed removal fun. I have a full article on the best weed burners you can find here.

Killing horsetail with fire

Sometimes results may take a while to appear, above is some horsetail directly after burning. Below is the same horsetail after a few days. The heat causes the cells in the horsetail to burst, killing them.

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  1. We’ve moved into an old 50’s bungalow and the garden in covered in Mates tail. I’ve taken your advice and commandeered my husbands blow torch ( great fun!) Once the Mares tail is dead do you take it off the surface & does the heat penetrate the root deep down? Thanks for your advice btw

    1. I just burn mine to a crisp and leave it. It does penetrate a little but not enough to kill the entire root. Mares tail has a really deep and extensive root system, which is why it is so hard to get rid of. Everytime you burn it off though you are weaking it and it will come back less and less each time.

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