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How To Get Rid of Unwanted Trees

By foraygardengirl
July 12, 2015

Why do buckthorn and other nefarious trees and woody shrubs seem to plant themselves right in the middle of other plants that you want to keep? How can you get them out without hurting your prized specimens?

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Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Jul 11, 2015 7:55 PM CST
Sheer genius! What else is there to say. Thumbs up
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Name: Deb
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Bonehead
Jul 11, 2015 9:15 PM CST
We all have our weed trees - what a great workable solution particularly when growing so close to a 'wanted' plant. Bravo.
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Name: Marilyn
Northern KY (Zone 6a)
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Marilyn
Jul 12, 2015 12:22 AM CST
@foraygardengirl

How did you do it? With just a long-handled tree pruner (loper?!) and how did you girdle the tree trunk with that?

Thanks!
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Name: Jeanie
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
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foraygardengirl
Jul 12, 2015 5:39 AM CST
Marilyn, I used a lopper type pruner, put it around the trunk without closing it all the way, and moved it up and down til the bark was scraped off and it had dug into the trunk a bit. Then I changed the angle and repeated until I had scraped all the way around. I did this in two places just to be sure I got it good.
After I had written this article I found another buckthorn in my lilac along the alley. For that one I used a sharp gardening knife to do the same since it was not on a hill and I could reach the trunk easily.
Does that answer your question adequately?
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Name: Neal Linville
Winchester, KY (Zone 6a)
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gemini_sage
Jul 12, 2015 7:07 AM CST
Thanks for this great tip Jeanie! I have a terrible problem with Hackberry trees sprouting all over the place. If they are over 6" tall, they've already got big, woody roots growing deep in the soil and are really tough to dig out sometimes. I find them growing next to the trunks of ornamentals like you described and will certainly be trying this trick!
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Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
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dyzzypyxxy
Jul 12, 2015 8:08 AM CST
This is really a great idea. Nicely done, Jeannie.

Here we get Brazilian Pepper and Carrotwood, both nasty invasive trees. Those trees that produce fruit or berries or nuts that the birds feed on really do pop up in the worst spots. Probably the result of the birds 'dropping' undigested seeds inside the shrubbery.
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Name: Jeanie
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
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foraygardengirl
Jul 12, 2015 8:17 AM CST
Thank you ... I hope it works for you. I just now noticed there are a couple of buckthorn leaves at the bottom of one stump that is in my lilacs, but I will restrip and hopefully that will finish the job. I suppose it may take a couple rounds at times, but we all know that rabbits are pretty good at this, so I feel certain it will eventually work.
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Old gardeners never die. They are just pruned and repotted.
Name: Betty
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daylilydreams
Jul 12, 2015 8:28 AM CST
Thanks for sharing your great idea! I don't have buckthorn but around here the squirrels often plant black walnuts which can have deep roots if you don't notice one to pull while they are very small. I will keep this in mind if I find one that is growing in the middle of something.
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grannysgarden
Jul 12, 2015 11:49 AM CST
This can be done to any size tree. When my ancestors were clearing land they would 'ring the trees' with huge cross cut saws. The thing to remember is not only cut all the way through the bark but on some trees you will have to make an inch wide cut, often accomplished with a nice little hatchet otherwise the tree will push sap into the cut and 'heal' itself. The best time for doing this is when the sap is down. If you do it when the tree is green the leaves will brown and look very ugly in a garden until bad weather pulls them off. After the tree dies it will be easier to cut. You will still have a living stump so you will have to cut any new growth before it can become a second tree.
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Name: Jeanie
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
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foraygardengirl
Jul 12, 2015 1:04 PM CST
Great info. I had no idea you could do this to a big tree!
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Old gardeners never die. They are just pruned and repotted.
Name: Marilyn
Northern KY (Zone 6a)
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Marilyn
Jul 12, 2015 8:18 PM CST
foraygardengirl said:Marilyn, I used a lopper type pruner, put it around the trunk without closing it all the way, and moved it up and down til the bark was scraped off and it had dug into the trunk a bit. Then I changed the angle and repeated until I had scraped all the way around. I did this in two places just to be sure I got it good.
After I had written this article I found another buckthorn in my lilac along the alley. For that one I used a sharp gardening knife to do the same since it was not on a hill and I could reach the trunk easily.
Does that answer your question adequately?


Yes, thanks Jeanie! Thank You! I tip my hat to you.

I'll have to keep your tip in mind here! Thumbs up

The squirrels "plant" black walnuts here among other nuts that grow into seedlings in our yard and gardens. Wonder if I'd could try in on the pokeberry plants that grow here as a result of a bird dropping.

How long of a time frame did you say it would take effect after doing it?

Welcome to the Agastache and Salvias Forum!

Hummingbirds are beautiful flying jewels in the garden!


[Last edited by Marilyn - Jul 12, 2015 8:26 PM (+)]
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Name: Jeanie
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
Replace your lawn with a garden!
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foraygardengirl
Jul 12, 2015 8:32 PM CST
I did it last fall, and watched for growth in the spring.
I have black walnut trees and find the nuts everywhere, but I see more buckthorn and maple trees than walnut trees.
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Old gardeners never die. They are just pruned and repotted.
Name: Marilyn
Northern KY (Zone 6a)
Laughter is the best medicine!
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Marilyn
Jul 12, 2015 8:40 PM CST
I'll have to try and remember this fall to do it. I tip my hat to you. Thumbs up
Welcome to the Agastache and Salvias Forum!

Hummingbirds are beautiful flying jewels in the garden!



caitlinsgarden
Jul 13, 2015 11:22 AM CST
So fall is the best time - you still have to cut down the tree though, and you have a live stump left, right? I have some weed trees that I just keep cutting back, and the trunks keep getting bigger and bigger.
Name: Jeanie
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
Replace your lawn with a garden!
Enjoys or suffers cold winters Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Garden Procrastinator Daylilies Bee Lover Sedums
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foraygardengirl
Jul 13, 2015 4:01 PM CST
I did NOT cut the tree in the fall, only did the girdling. I wanted to watch it in the spring to make sure it was not growing. I actually still haven't cut it just to make sure. One that I girdled idoes have some leaves at the base so I will girdle it again a little deeper this fall.
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Old gardeners never die. They are just pruned and repotted.

caitlinsgarden
Jul 14, 2015 6:29 AM CST
Will this kill the ones that re-sprout from the bottom? Like cottonwoods and willows?
Name: Jeanie
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
Replace your lawn with a garden!
Enjoys or suffers cold winters Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Garden Procrastinator Daylilies Bee Lover Sedums
Hostas Dog Lover Xeriscape Region: Minnesota Heucheras Butterflies
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foraygardengirl
Jul 14, 2015 10:22 AM CST
Sorry, I don't know for sure, as I have not tried it on those types of trees. If it were me, I would sure give it a shot. I think any tree will resprout if it can.
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Old gardeners never die. They are just pruned and repotted.

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hazelnut
Jul 15, 2015 1:53 AM CST
Amazing what we can learn from rabbits. My ancestors also had experience with girdled trees. Apparently, back in the 1700s huge stands of virgin trees were cleared by girdling in an effort to clear road ways. There is a story that my French ancestors in upper New York State attempted to move west by wagon train. They entered an roadway that had been cut through girdled trees, that began falling on the wagons in the train. One of my ancestors had to scout out the area beyond the girdled trees to find a safe route through the girdled forest. Lesson. Large girdled trees can be dangerous. Thanks for the post. Girdling is an old technique that is still relevant today.
Name: Jeanie
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
Replace your lawn with a garden!
Enjoys or suffers cold winters Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Garden Procrastinator Daylilies Bee Lover Sedums
Hostas Dog Lover Xeriscape Region: Minnesota Heucheras Butterflies
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foraygardengirl
Jul 15, 2015 7:55 AM CST
Interesting. I had no idea this technique had been used so extensively. Thanks, hazelnut!
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Old gardeners never die. They are just pruned and repotted.

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