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.
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.
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.
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.