Friday, December 7, 2012

Chipping Buckthorn

The safest way to load Buckthorn into the chipper!

If you have ever handled Buckthorn you can understand why I load it into the chipper with our mini-excavator. If you have never handled Buckthorn, take note of the second syllable in the invasive's name. The thorns are not to be dismissed. 

In this picture I am chipping some pretty large Buckthorn (~15 feet tall). They were growing on the edge of a woodlot so they grew out as much as up, plus they had multiple stems. After cutting the Buckthorn, I had a few options: let it lay where it fell, make some brush piles or use our chipper to grind up the brush. 

My experience with this shrub-type of Buckthorn is it has to be chipped. Trying to make brush piles out of it once it is this size and shape can be frustrating. After stacking a few shrubs up, the pile tends to fall over, or the shrubs roll off.

I've also learned that Buckthorn can be slow to decay. If I am removing invasives, I like to be able to walk through the area that my work was done in. These large shrubs left to rot, where they stood, would impede foot traffic for sometime. 

A Bucktorn brush pile reduced to chips will be significantly smaller than a brush pile, and the chips can be used on trails. If I don't get around to using the chips, they decompose much faster than if left whole. 

I recognize not everyone has this type of equipment available for their projects. I am interested to hear what you do with Buckthorn once cutting it, so leave a comment. Stay tuned I will also write about how I treat the cut stumps. 

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