Removal Method - Cutting and Herbicide

Buckthorn removal can be an overwhelming process. The best way to start is by evaluating your property. Check the area for young oaks, cherries and dogwoods. Mark these valuable trees with flagging and cage young oaks to protect them. Removing and controlling buckthorn will be a multiple year process, so don't feel like you need to remove it all at once. To see the best way to prioritize your buckthorn removal, see the Buckthorn Removal Priority Chart.

Cutting and treating stumps with herbicide is the best method if:

  • Buckthorn is fairly large (1-inch in diameter or larger).
  • Area has sloped ground.
  • In areas with many native ferns and wildflowers.

The best time to cut and treat buckthorn is in the fall, when the sap is headed towards the roots. It can be treated effectively other times during the year, but is recommended to avoid cutting/treating in spring. In fall, buckthorn leaves remain green after most other leaves have changed color or dropped, making it an ideal time to identify buckthorn. Cut the buckthorn close to the ground and as level as you can.

Apply Herbicide Immediately After Cutting

If you do not treat cut buckthorn stumps, it will grow back even worse than before! Ideally, you will treat the stumps within a few minutes of being cut. Otherwise, the stump may seal off and not absorb the chemical. Make sure to use herbicide with the active ingredient Glyphosate (20% concentration). A weaker concentration, such as the pre-mixed concentration for general weed killing sprays, will not be adequate to kill buckthorn. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup, as well as many other brand names of chemicals. Glyphosate will kill any plant it comes into contact with so be careful when applying. You can purchase an indicator dye to mix with your herbicide at places where herbicide is sold that will make it easier for you to remember which areas you have treated and what still needs to be done.

Caution: Do not use these herbicides in or near water or waterways. If you will be working near water, ask for Rodeo® or an equivalent herbicide at 25% or greater concentration.

Untreated buckthorn stump with regrowth

What's next?

The information provided in the links below will walk you through identifying, removing, treating with herbicide and what to do when buckthorn is gone. Want a shortened version? View a two page identification and control guide (PDF).

Identifying Buckthorn

Removal Method – Pulling

Removal Method – Cutting

Tips on Herbicide Use

Disposal of Buckthorn

Replacement Plantings

Additional Resources

Take Back Your Woods - Identification and Control Guide (PDF)

Still have questions? Contact the City Natural Resources Department at 952-895-4543 or email.