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Bloomington Briefing

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Sustainability

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Earth Action Hero: Buckthorn Busters

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Bloomington Briefing Published November 2, 2022
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Updated on November 2, 2022
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Did you know that late fall is the best time to get rid of buckthorn? It stays green longer than most native plants, making it easier to spot.

“Buckthorn is an invasive species that prevents native plants from thriving. You can help the native plants near you by removing buckthorn where you see it,” Assistant Maintenance Superintendent Dave Hanson said. “There are a few different methods you can use to make sure buckthorn doesn’t damage the natural habitat in your neighborhood.”

Small buckthorn seedlings and trees can be pulled by hand or with tools such as a shovel or a weed wrench. A weed wrench is a manually operated tool that clamps onto a stem up to three inches in diameter and operates as a lever to uproot plants.

Residents can rent a weed wrench from Public Works for free by calling 952-563-4919. Removing buckthorn by hand is easier when the soil is moist. Large-diameter buckthorn stems can be cut at the stump with a chainsaw, brush cutter or other hand tool.

Cover the stump with a tin can or black plastic to prevent future sprouting after you remove all the stems you can. Before digging out buckthorn roots, call 811 or visit gopherstateonecall.org a few days ahead to allow time for public utilities to be marked.

Chemicals should be considered only if pulling individual plants is impractical, such as with larger diameter buckthorn stems. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources recommends using herbicides containing glyphosate or triclopyr for buckthorn control.

Check with your local garden center or hardware store for recommendations on effective weed killers for buckthorn. Always follow label directions when using herbicides, wear recommended protective clothing and avoid contact with other plants.

The City’s yard waste program allows residents to dispose of buckthorn. Residents may also call a tree service company or bring the buckthorn to a collection site. Learn more at blm.mn/buckthorn or watch a video about buckthorn removal at blm.mn/bustbuckthorn. For questions, call 952-563-8760.