Customer Care & Communications

Update: Deansgrange Cemetery – Horsetail plant

Thursday, June 24, 2021
Intro Text 

Deansgrange Cemetery – Horsetail plant  

The Horsetail plant is a cause of concern for Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council in Deansgrange Cemetery. This fast growing and invasive species is growing rapidly in many areas of the cemetery and in and around graves.

dlr acknowledges the significant distress caused to family members of those interred in Deansgrange Cemetery where Horsetail is growing around their graves.  The Council is committed to doing its utmost to manage this invasive plant and negate any further impact on the cemetery and families graves.   

Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) is a native plant to Ireland but is also an extremely invasive plant. It is an very difficult plant to treat or eradicate completely from an area. There are many different solutions proposed from various sources on how to eradicate this plant, all with very limited success.

dlr have been managing Horsetail at Deansgrange Cemetery over 35 years. A variety of options have been trialled to manage this plant at Deansgrange.

  1. Removing Horsetail by hand is difficult. Although rhizomes growing near the surface can be forked out, deeper roots will require a lot of excavation. Shallow, occasional weeding is not effective and can make the problem worse, as the plant can regrow from any small pieces left behind. In the cemetery this is difficult as the plant has often extremely deep roots that may extend to 1m.
  2. Cutting and disking only have short term effectiveness, not lasting more than a few weeks. It only delays establishment.
  3. Weedkiller has also been tried and has limited success, by bruising the plants and then applying the weedkiller.

dlr will continue to examine ways to treat Horsetail and to develop solutions to manage this problem.  This includes a combination of treatments.

  1. Chemical control where appropriate and sustainable. 
  2. Creating competition for the plant by planting more vigorous plants. This is also currently been trialled at Deansgrange since 2020 and the success of this will be known in two to three years.
  3. Control and treatment of young plants as they develop.
  4. Avoid any mechanical disturbance of the soils within which the plant occurs.
  5. Avoid the movement and/or re-use of soils containing Horsetail
  6. dlr is working with universities to examine the possibility of other treatments through research.

By using a combination of treatments dlr are endeavouring to halt the spread of the plant -widely known to be very difficult to manage and to trial new ways of treating it.