Invasive Plant Management

A couple of late season storms have provided us with ample snow, but many of us hear the word spring and our minds turn to the garden. Well here is a little garden prep that you can start before the snow melts away and the earth softens up.

Controlling Invasive Woody Plants

By: Henry Homeyer

Common buckthorn and glossy buckthorn are two species of small trees that arrived here from Europe or Asia, where they are native, and that have found the new world (more than) suitable for their needs. They are understory plants that will grow in sun or shade, wet or dry, good soil or bad. And they are very hard to get rid of. Like many invasives, if you cut down one, many new shoots will sprout up.

I don’t use herbicides, but there is a way to kill buckthorns without using herbicides. Several years ago I was told about “double girdling” them as way to slowly kill them – without generating root sprouts. Now, while they are dormant, is a good time to begin.

Girdling BuckthornTake a pruning saw and cut through the outer bark and the green cambium layer, but do not cut into the hard core of the trunk. Go all the way around the tree, so that you have girdled the tree. Be sure to connect the beginning and end of your cut (which requires that you keep your saw blade level as you cut). Then do it again 12 inches above the initial cut.

Girdling Buckthorn

If you girdle the tree this year, it will leaf out and act as if nothing bad had occurred. Next year, it will leaf out, but may start to show signs of decline. In the third year, the tree will die. And best of all, no root sprouts will pop up. (Or they didn’t for me, anyhow, when I tried it a few years ago).   (Read original story…)

Henry Homeyer can be reached by email at His Web site is