The Best Method to Cut Down Buckthorn


Buckthorn is a thorny shrub that sometimes is referred to as a small tree. It is native to Europe and Asia. Its leaves are edged with small teeth and a sharp spine at the tip. The buckthorn grows before most other shrubs in the spring, giving it a longer growth season than most other plants. Buckthorn grows quickly, crowds out native plants and is considered an invasive shrub. Diverse woodlands, wetlands and backyards can become an overgrown, thorny and uninteresting mess if the buckthorn is not controlled or removed.

Step 1

Pull up buckthorns that are less than 1 inch in diameter. The roots are shallow at this point and easily removed.

Step 2

Dig out buckthorns that are 1 to 3 inches in diameter. Dig about 6 inches deep around the base of the plant and push down on the shovel to lift the roots out of the soil.

Step 3

Cut down buckthorns that are larger than 3 inches in diameter with a saw. Dig out the stump as previously mentioned, however, larger buckthorns are more difficult and labor intensive to remove.

Step 4

Spray a herbicide, such as one that contains glyphosate or triclopyr, on the stump to prevent it from regrowing as an alternative to digging it out. Follow the label instructions for the use of any herbicide.

Tips and Warnings

  • Wear gloves and goggles when spraying a herbicide for your protection.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Saw
  • Herbicide


  • Minnesota Department of Natural Resources: The Trouble With Backyard Buckthorn
  • Illinois Department of Natural Resources: Common Buckthorn- Rhamnus cathartica
Keywords: cut down buckthorn, remove buckthorn, control buckthorn

About this Author

Melissa Lewis has been a professional writer since 2005. Her work has appeared in various online publications. A former elementary classroom teacher and media specialist, Lewis is also a script writer, with a movie script, "Homecoming," she co-wrote currently in production. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology.