Better Privacy Screening – Replacements for Buckthorn

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One reason why invasive buckthorn persists in our yards is that it provides exceptional privacy screening.  Why take buckthorn down when it is doing the job for you?  Well, because buckthorn is bad for our environment, and you will feel a great sense of satisfaction getting rid of it!

Invasive common and glossy buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica and Rhamnus frangula) form dense thickets and reproduce aggressively, making it tempting to keep it in your yard to provide privacy from neighbors or a busy road. The problem is that it is nearly impossible to contain these invasives on your land since seeds are distributed by birds and other creatures resulting in their spread to neighboring properties, including forest preserves and other conservation areas. Once established, buckthorn shades out other plants and disrupts natural ecosystems. In woodlands, they can completely replace young trees and understory plants, including native wildflowers. Buckthorn also causes long-lasting damage to the soil and wildlife habitat where it grows. And so, while it is an appealing thought to keep these trees on your property for screening, there are many great options to replace your buckthorn with ecologically sound, yet beautiful options that provide brilliant fall colors while giving a better home to birds and wildlife.

Here are a few spectacular buckthorn alternatives:

  • Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis)
  • Hazelnut or filbert (Corylus americana)
  • Spicebush (Lindera benzion)
  • Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius)
  • Blackhaw viburnum (Viburnum prunifolium)