Winter is in full swing, and many people do not think of their trees during the cold months when everything looks relatively lifeless outdoors.
Actually, the winter dormant season is the best time of year to be doing some maintenance on your property, including tree pruning and buckthorn removal.
Removing buckthorn in the winter is smart, because it is easier to move the brush without leaves, there is no risk for stepping on sensitive herbaceous plants (your precious flowers!) and if the snow isn't a problem, driving on the frozen lawn will allow for easier access to some areas without compacting soil and creating ruts. If the temperature is too low, treating with chemicals may not work this time of year, but getting the brush removed, and coming back at a warmer time to make the final cuts and treatments is an effective strategy. Since we are so busy in the spring with planting native species and removing garlic mustard, winter is the last chance to remove buckthorn before the rest of the berries fall to the ground.
How do you identify buckthorn in the winter? Look at the ends of the twigs. If you see any hoof-like bud pairs with a thorn hiding in the middle, it is indeed common buckthorn!
Bonus to winter buckthorn removal: buckthorn produces chemicals that are toxic to other plants and seeds. Removing buckthorn in the winter stops the production of these allelopathic compounds, which increases the chances of naturally germinating new native plants in the spring!
Photos by Stephanie Snell
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