In The Woods: Invasive Plant Management

In The Woods: Invasive Plant Management

First Post!

So, selfishly, one of my initial goals for this site is to document some of my progress managing my land, about 17 acres of mixed hardwood forest in New England.

I’ll use the “In The Woods” heading to highlight forest management projects that focus on timber stand improvement, wildlife habitat improvement, and other activities that improve forest health.

My first goal was to tackle invasive species. While, my woods were hardly overrun, I inventoried several areas where Japanese barberry, multiflora rose, and winged winged Euonymous were beginning to establish themselves. These plants are invasive species that establish themselves easily and quickly in New England forests. In addition to being thorny, tough to handle, and capable of out competing native, desirable plants these species can also lead to human health concerns.


Thick areas of Japanese barberry have strong associations with high deer tick populations. The barberry grows so think it can create its own humid and warm micro-climate beneath it, a prime habitat for ticks.

There are several methods to control these species, all of which have their place. The high number of invasive plants and desire to get as complete as control as possible lead me to start with a targeted chemical control approach. While I tend to try to avoid the excessive use of pesticides on my property, the potential negative impact of the invasive plants on forest health took precedent here. Late summer and early autumn are the perfect time to apply a systemic herbicide, as plants are actively translocating nutrients to their root systems to prepare for winter. The herbicide can easily hitch a ride right down to the roots during this process making the process super effective.

I chose a foliar herbicide mixture applied out of a backpack spray to achieve a low volume of mixed product applied. Check with your state for info on what products are available, effective and legal in your area. I find glyphosate and triclopyr products to be quite effective. Control can be achieved easily with these products.  The goal should be cover about 70% of the target plants foliage with the mixed product. Careful application using the proper wand/tip selection and minding the wind can minimize the impact on desirable plants nearby. I was able  to treat about 95% of the invasive on my property with less than 1/2 a gallon of mixed product per acre and less than 8 gallons total.

Photos are a live  barberry plant declining after treatment and a patch of barberry successfully controlled. With the particular mix I used decline was apparent about 48 hours after application and complete control  within 2 weeks.


Invasives tend to hold their leaves longer than native plants, hence their ability to out compete desirable  plants. It will make them easy to identify any missed targets later this fall.

Next year maintenance of this control will focus on mechanical control by cutting and flame treatment to minimize the use of herbicides.




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