I avoid using herbicides and pesticides in my garden -- but I make an exception for buckthorn. 

This invasive hedge plant is the bane of my back yard. It sprouts everywhere, shoots up like a rocket-fueled jet and chokes out every plant around it. 


I pull the little seedlings whenever I spot them, but the big stuff calls for stronger measures. Every year or two, I rent a chainsaw, mow those suckers down, then douse the fresh-cut stumps with Roundup.

You'd think that would be enough to kill the things, but, no -- they always come back. When I tackled the chainsaw/Roundup chore yesterday, it seemed no smaller than before. Of the two dozen or so buckthorn clusters I've treated over the years, I found only one dead blackened stump. All the rest had shot up new suckers, many of them 6 feet tall.

In the short-term, it sure is satisfying to liberate my yard from buckthorn's thorny grip. Once I'd cleared the biggest patch, I discovered plants I forgot I even had, including three lovely hosta.

But I wish I could unlock the secret to permanent buckthorn eradication. 

I searched for answers online and found some helpful info on the DNR's website. Apparently June is not the optimal to time to tackle this chore; late summer/early fall, when the plants are done leafing out is better, according to the DNR. : 

And though garden-variety Roundup seems like a nuclear weapon to a chemically averse gardener like me, there are even stronger measures out there. A colleague I rode the elevator with this morning said he uses high-concentrate (40 percent glyphosate) Roundup when dealing with buckthorn. 

So, fellow gardeners, do you have buckthorn in your yard? When do you go to war, and what's your preferred weapon?