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How To Kill Invasive Plants

I could have called this video the death stick video.  That is what  John Bakewell  calls the contraption he invented that makes getting rid of invasive plants much easier and much more affective. 

One of the problems with invasive plants, non native plants and other u

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ndesirable plants is that cutting them back often promotes stronger and more vigorous growth.  Digging them up is either impractical or too difficult.  That leaves herbicides which can be harmful to the environment.  However, there are times when any minor harm from the herbicide is outweighed by the benefit from actually removing the plant.

In order to use herbicides on a very localized area, we recommend building yourself a contraption affectionately called the death stick.  Basically made from some PVC, a sponge paint roller, a salsa jar and a sprayer, you can safely apply herbicide to a very localized area.

John Bakewell, who is a certified arborist from Massachusetts mounts a foam roller onto the end of a 1/4 inch-diameter stainless steel rod.  You can find the material for this invention at most home stores and/or supermarkets.

Materials: Foam paint roller made for oil based paints, steel rod, PVC for handle, oil can, empty salsa jar (plastic is best), plumbers glue for metal and plastic.

First, you need to create a bull-nose shape to the end of the rod by grinding it so the roller slides on properly.  The foam roller (1 inch diameter, 4 inches long) has an internal plastic bearing that fits snugly over the stainless steel tube. Once in place, the roller stays on the tube by friction. This is the main piece of the "deathstick"

Next make a handle.  Take a  10 inch section of 1/2 inch PVC pipe with end cap fittings. Place the stainless steel tube into the PVC handle via 1/4 inch holes drilled into the end caps, and glue it into place.

Now make your reservoir to hold the herbicide.  You can use a plastic jar (old salsa jar) to hold the herbicide and a plastic squeeze bottle or oil can to dispense it.  John recommends the oil can because the plastic should not be used to store and leftover herbicide.

It does get a bit tricky to dispense the herbicide and spread it using the death stick so you might need to place the reservoir on the ground or you can get creative and make a belt holder or something.

John told me he uses Pathfinder II (active ingredient, triclopyr). The oil base allows for year-round application and get through the bark of these plants fairly easily.  In order to see where he has marked or identify spills he adds red dye (Becker Underwood''''''''s Bas-Oil dye) to the Pathfinder II.

We watched him treat some Ailanthus and buckthorn.  He only treats about 8-12 inches of stem;  if the stems are under 1/2 inch he treats them halfway around the stem working up to a full circumference for those stems over 2".

The death stick works great on glossy and common buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula, R. cathartica), Norway maple (Acer platanoides), and tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima). You should cut thicker-barked plants such as honeysuckle (Lonicera sp.), multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora), Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus), and barberry (Berberis sp.), first and then dab the stump with the "Deathstick".



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