Check List for Organizing a Buckthorn Bust

The key to a successful Buckthorn Bust is to get people to show up. The process of removing buckthorn is fairly simple as demonstrated in the videos on this website. This check list will help you plan a safe and successful buckthorn bust.

  • Choose the park or woodland area you would like to remove buckthorn from.
  • Contact your city forestry or maintenance department about how the cut buckthorn will be disposed of. Most municipalities will run cut buckthorn through a wood-chipper on site.
  • Select the date or dates you would like volunteers to show up and remove buckthorn. Saturday mornings from 8 am to noon has worked well for other organizers.
  • Decide who you are going to recruit to help you with your buckthorn bust. Good options for building your buckthorn removal army include: neighbors, co-workers, relatives, cub scouts, girl scouts, boy scouts, local business or a church group.
  • Fill out our volunteer Recruitment flyer. (Click here) Hand them out and start recruiting.
  • Collect names, phone numbers and e-mail addresses. As the day of your buckthorn busts approaches be sure to contact your volunteer crew and continue to provide praise and encouragement for their participation. Tell them efforts will make a difference.

Buckthorn Bust Equipment Check List

When you are in contact with your volunteer crew encourage them to bring some of the basic equipment needed for an effective buckthorn bust. These items are listed on our recruitment flier. Safety glasses and work gloves are recommended for all volunteers. The removal method promoted on this website is called the Cut Stump Method.

  • Safety glasses and work gloves. (Leather gloves recommended)
  • Cutting tools (Hand pruners, branch loppers, and hand saws)
  • Optional power tools (Gas or battery power chainsaws, and sawzalls)

The most commonly used herbicide used for killing buckthorn using the cut stump method is Glyphosate. Most buckthorn busters use RoundUp Concentrate Plus which is typically found at most garden and home improvement stores. The herbicide you use must have at least 18% glyphosate. The herbicide is applied to the freshly cut buckthorn stump undiluted. An old coffee mug and a sponge paint brush will work for applying the herbicide. We highly recommend purchasing a Buckthorn Blaster which is available at for only $6.00. The Buckthorn Blaster can treat 100’s of freshly cut buckthorn stumps while avoiding the possibility of spilling the herbicide. Blue marking dye is also available and is useful to make sure you don’t miss treating any of the cut stumps.

  • Old coffee mug and a sponge paint brush.
  • Buckthorn Buster with blue marking dye.

Check out our demonstrational videos at to see how easy and efficient the cut stump method is for removing buckthorn plants from your local parks and woods.


Planning a Successful Buckthorn Bust Day

Now that you have gone through all of the work of recruiting volunteers and organizing your buckthorn bust it is time to start removing buckthorn. As your buckthorn bust approaches it is a good idea to confirm that your crew of volunteers are still planning to help out. Remind them to bring any of the suggested equipment and supplies that are listed on the buckthorn bust equipment check list. Also remind them the specific location of your targeted buckthorn removal efforts.

  • Prior to your buckthorn bust contact your city forestry or maintenance department about how the cut buckthorn will be disposed of. Most municipalities will run cut buckthorn through a wood-chipper on site at a later date. Make sure the buckthorn is stacked near a trail or path that a truck with a wood-chipper could drive to. Some cities will take the cut buckthorn away.
  • Arrive 30 minutes before your buckthorn bust is scheduled to start. Here are some recommend things you should consider bringing. A clipboard, pen and paper to collect the names of your volunteers. This is not a one-time event. You need to collect as many names, phone numbers and e-mails as you can. Chances are you will be contacting these people for a few more years for other busts.
  • Bring a cooler with water or other beverages. This is something that you might be able to get another volunteer to provide. Cookies and other snacks can help keep your crew energized after they have been removing buckthorn for a few hours.
  • Having a map of your location can help steer your volunteers in the right direction as they arrive. Not everyone is going to show up at the same time. It is a good idea to have 2-3 people including yourself who will be able to greet volunteers as they arrive and give them some quick instructions to get them started.
  • Remember to encourage your volunteers to remove the female plants first. The female plants have the berries/seeds. In most areas the buckthorn is densely overgrown and the only way you can get to the female plants is to cut down the male plants. In that case an effort should be made to cut down all plants in the area. If your area is sparsely infested with buckthorn then a strategy of seeking out female plants may be an effective technique of stopping the seed production in that area.
  • As your buckthorn bust progresses don’t forget to “make the rounds” and make sure everything going smoothly. Keep an eye on how the buckthorn is being stacked. It is important to make sure all of the cut ends are at the same end. This helps the people who take it away or send it through a wood chipper handle each piece more efficiently.
  • As things start to wrap up and volunteers slowly start call it a day be sure to thank everyone again and let them their efforts make a difference. Let them know that after a few years of work that buckthorn can be cleared from that park or woodland.


Other Buckthorn Bust Considerations

Depending on the size of your park or woods the process of eradicating buckthorn may take 7-8 years. A few years of cutting and killing the mature growth and up to 5-6 years of foliar spraying or pulling out the young seedling growth. Set realistic goals. If you literally have acres of buckthorn to remove then you may consider some type of grid approach to your efforts. Maybe attack the perimeter and remove buckthorn 10 – 20 feet each buckthorn bust. Another approach would be to start from any existing trails that go through the park or woods and clear away from the trails. This will immediately improve the safety of the woods for kids, bikers, joggers and walkers. Don’t forget that buckthorn growth can create a perfect hiding place for people who are up to no good.

Another reality of coordinating buckhorn busts is the money that may be needed to make sure things go smoothly. Expenses may include copies of recruitment flyers, some equipment and supplies for the removal process, the herbicide, Buckthorn Blasters, water and snacks for your volunteers.

With most city governments trying to do more with less money the odds of getting money from your city are slim. So in addition to your efforts of coordinating, recruiting and working you most likely will have to spend some money. This can be a tough pill to swallow after paying your taxes every year. Healthy parks and woods near our homes typically add to the value of your house and neighborhood. Removing buckthorn has many positive rewards. The exercise and the sense of accomplishment to name a few.

Be sure to take some before and after pictures to e-mail and show your friends and neighbors. As awareness grows about the problems associated with buckthorn so will the support of more volunteers. If you have the motivation to make a difference on a little piece of this beautiful earth you will start something that generations of future family, friends and neighbors will appreciate.