my neighbor's burning bush

still_lynnskiMay 4, 2014

My neighbor has a row of burning bush along the property line. I despise them, but what can I do? I have told her they are labeled invasive in Massachusetts, but there they are.

My question is: What can I grow in front of them? I cut them back a great deal on my side (that was ok with her) last year, but they have seeded a carpet of the evil little things for 2-3 feet out. Ugh.

How can I kill the seedlings, and what can I plant that will tolerate these conditions? The property line runs roughly SE/NW, and my property is on the NW side. It's quite sunny, except for the shade cast by the infernal burning bushes.

Thanks!

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gardenweed_z6a

Chances are Euonymus alatus/burning bush seedlings would succumb to an application of vinegar if you're averse to using RoundUp or other poisons. Another idea might be laying down thicknesses of corrugated cardboard topped with several inches of bark mulch.

Depending on soil type & sun exposure, a number of other perennials would likely thrive in place of the BB seedlings. Depending on the amount of sun the area gets, you might want to plant dwarf fountain grass which will provide a textural contrast to the burning bush. Clumps of daylilies or tall garden phlox are other options.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 11:01PM
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edlincoln(6A)

How tall do you want the plants to be?

You could put in a Yew hedge in front of it. Not much can survive under a Yew. You could put in a dense Holly hedge to block the sun. You could put in a native that is aggressive and "Spready". You could put in Ninebark on the theory that it will match. You could put in a lawn and just mow a lot.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 7:54AM
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still_lynnski

All of this is very helpful--thank you ed and gardenweed.

What are some examples of natives that are aggressive and "spready"? I like those characteristics in plant life! Specific suggestions are very welcome. I'm thinking perennials in the 18-30" range.

We have a fabulous plant swap in Belchertown, MA (does anyone remember ElaineW?) and I could request anything from this group of gardeners.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 11:10AM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

It's invasive. It spreads both by prolific seeding and by underground rhizome. Not much can compete with that. You can grow things that will block the light as suggested but all that will do it make the BB look sparse and ratty.

Have you had a discussion with the neighbor in which you state that the invasive nature of the seedlings from her BB negatively impact your property? Suggest that together you and the neighbor plan and equally pay for a replacement shrub border that both of you will like. BTW, the fall foliage of Highbush Blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) is just as bright as Burning Bush.

If you get no cooperation, then you'll just have to use some Round Up to get rid of all those seedlings on your property. Make sure you pump the sprayer up into a fine mist and do it on a breezy day.

Steve

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 3:47PM
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diggingthedirt

LOL, Steve, I like the way you think. On the other hand, I don't think e. alata would be affected by round-up in the long term.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 8:58PM
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edlincoln(6A)

I can think of some aggressive natives, but not many that could completely block a burning bush.

The most aggressive North American natives I can think of are Wisteria frutescens, Trumpet Vine (Campsis radicans) and Eastern Red Cedar. The first two would just climb all over the Burning Bush and possibly kill it (but probably not).

Eastern Red Cedar *MIGHT* work. It can be planted in dense rows like arborvitae, produces dense shade, and depletes (and poisons) the soil underneath it so not much can grow there. It's taller then you like and might be tricky getting a dense enough row. Not especially pretty.

I understand Bee Balm can be pretty aggressive...but not sure if it is aggressive enough to stop the march of burning bush.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 10:29PM
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flying_c(6a)

If you really want aggressive and spready, how about a mix of goldenrod and common milkweed? Yes, they're weedy, but they're also very pretty (at least to me) and hugely valuable to insect life. Or if you want shrubs, maybe gray dogwood or elderberry? Either way, though, you'll still be weeding out seedlings until whatever you plant gets a chance to establish.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 7:54AM
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edlincoln(6A)

Oooh...another thought. Chokeberry. I'm told it can be aggressive enough to choke out poison ivy, and it could be pruned to whatever height you like.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 7:45AM
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still_lynnski

Awesome! Since I can't choke my neighbor, I think Chokeberry is the ticket.

Thanks, everyone. Your comments have been both informative and therapeutic.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 7:06PM
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tree_oracle(z6b MA)

I cannot believe what I'm reading on this thread. The lack of logic here is astounding. You're saying the a burning bush is invasive and therefore bad so you want to plant something with exactly the same characteristics and yet for some reason this doesn't qualify as bad just because the plant happens to be a native citizen. That is ridiculous. You can't have it both ways. If a plant is going to take over then it should be bad period no matter where it's from. I have three burning bushes on my property and I have yet to see a single seedling from them. However in just a month or so, I'm going to be having my annual battle with poison ivy, and wild blackberries that just never ends. Yet using the logic of this thread, burning bush equals bad and poison ivy and blackberries equals good just because of their points of origin. That is complete BS.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 9:46PM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

No, that is not what people have said. Burning Bush is bad because it spreads by seeding all over the place. Even if you haven't had a problem with seeds in your garden, birds will take the seed to an unmanaged area. In that unmanaged area seedlings will grow and they will crowd out native vegetation. If uncontrolled, native plants will become rare or even extinct because an agressive exotic plant will out compete them.

Your example of poison ivy is a good one. Poison Ivy has adapted to our environment quite well. If you notice when it grows on trees it grows about 3/4 of the way to the top of the tree so that it won't kill its host. By contrast the invasive vine Oriental Bittersweet grows right to the top of the trees on which it grows choking the life out of them and killing them. Eventually, (in about a thousand years) it will learn not to do that, but in the meantime if it is left uncontrolled it will kill an awful lot of native trees, many of which may be endangered.

So the take away is that although a plant may not be invasive in your garden, it is how it behaves in an unmanaged landscape that determines whether or not it is invasive and a danger to the survival of native species.

Steve

This post was edited by steve_mass on Thu, May 8, 14 at 9:40

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 10:59PM
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tree_oracle(z6b MA)

Spare me. I can only hope that a group of burning bushes would spring up in an unmanaged area and crowd out a big patch of poison ivy.

Aggressive natives can wreak just as much havoc on the ecosystem as non-natives. To say otherwise is ignorance.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 3:27PM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

Ignorance is practiced by those who make claims without evidence to back them up.

Natives may certainly be aggressive, but you simply can't find any native that is as damaging to the environment as things like Oriental Bittersweet, Ailanthus altissima or Japanese Knotweed. You made the claim. Was it just ignorant bluster? Back it up.

Steve

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 6:53PM
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edlincoln(6A)

There may be environmentally damaging natives...but poison ivy certainly isn't one of them. It's actually wonderful for the environment. It prevents erosion and creates patches of forest humans won't venture into...great places for birds to nest.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 8:56PM
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tree_oracle(z6b MA)

Tell you what. Let's go on an opinion-gathering mission. Go stand by the medications for poison ivy at CVS and remind everyone buying them how good poison ivy is for the environment. You're going to look quite becoming with a bottle of calamine lotion shoved up your a$$.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 9:55PM
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edlincoln(6A)

The point is...the fact *WE* don't like it has nothing to do with whether it is good for he environment. Poison ivy is a terrible example to use when discussing environmentally damaging natives. There are many criteria that go into whether we like a plant. It's important to be precise. You wouldn't say Hydrangea is drought tolerant just because it's pretty...pretty and drought tolerant are different things a given person might be looking for. Similarly, it bugs me when people call native weeds invasive...we have a perfectly good word for weeds already. Blurring the words together makes it difficult to talk about either issue separately.

This post was edited by edlincoln on Sat, May 10, 14 at 0:48

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 7:55AM
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tree_oracle(z6b MA)

Poison ivy is a great example because it crowds out just about everything in it's path consequently decreasing the diversity in the area. It is absolutely no different than the Asian vines that do the same thing. It is just lunacy to think otherwise.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 6:56PM
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terrene(5b MA)

I don't see how a native plant can be damaging to the environment, since they have evolved to be part of an intact native habitat. A native plant such as poison ivy may be noxious to humans, but it's not environmentally damaging or invasive because it's native to eastern North America.

Invasive species are not native to a particular range and are subsequently introduced to that range, where they out-compete native species and disrupt the natural balance of the native habitat.

I have gotten rid of many Burning Bushes from this lot. To eliminate the seedlings I usually pull them up, however if there are numerous seedlings I would use a light spray of Brush-B-gone.

As for what you should plant next to the BB, you could try Grey Dogwood which is fairly vigorous and naturally suckers, IF the location is medium-moist. It does not tolerate drought well. Perhaps a rugged non-native that is NOT invasive, such as Lilacs or Forsythia.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 7:20PM
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diggingthedirt

Since the neighbor doesn't want to get rid of the shrubs, maybe you should just let the lawn grow up to them, mow the seedlings that pop up, and tell yourself that you don't really mind them. They're not my favorite, by a long shot, but they're not too awful looking. Unless you need that border for growing something else, you might just 'go along to get along', as they say.

Alternatively, it could be a good spot for annuals, since you'd be turning the soil every year. The seedlings would be easy to deal with that way as well.

A quick PS: the best way to deal with trolls on the forum is to ignore them. They never get any nicer, and they don't actually think about what you say, even if you have facts and information to back up your point of view.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 9:29PM
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tree_oracle(z6b MA)

In honor of this thread, I'm going to collect all of the seeds off my burning bushes this fall and broadcast them in the median of Rte 3. My guess is that five years from now, the only thing in the median will be poison ivy.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 9:55PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

To follow up on what DtD said:

Claire

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 9:15AM
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still_lynnski

Thanks again to everyone who shared helpful ideas about my situation. Lots of great thinking here.

Ultimately, I think the point of a forum like this is to be able to work out some of our gardening challenges in community, instead of in isolation. Now I have lots of other perspectives to bring with me into my encounters with the bb seedlings. I still despise them, but I can remember there are other options, both for plant choice and attitude.

And it could always be worse. The neighbors could be cultivating poison ivy.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 8:49AM
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umpfan

My burning bushes are nuisances too. Difficult to mow around and have to be pruned often. Once cut back, their suckers shoot up like mad. Terrene, how light of a mist of herbicide? I have Round-up and Gordans Trimec 2,4-D.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2014 at 3:30AM
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Persimmons(6b Southern Mass)

tree_oracle, and all: I'm staying at a place in Clinton, MA conducting field work, and I have never in my life seen wild black/raspberries and poison ivy grow with such vigor and in such large amounts. Native or not, these pests are literally awful. Various trails around "protected forests" like the Rocky Pond conservation area have become completely overgrown with thorny vines and terrifying toxicodendron. Rather than allow native plants to thrive because of the lack of human intervention in the area, all it does is create a safe haven for ticks and mosquitos (read: EEE, West Nile, and Lyme).

I side with tree_oracle... to kill the burning bush or allow it to thrive? On one hand, the burning bush does not create rashes, an industry of skin protection, necessary vaccination and pest prevention; on the other hand the burning bush is a "nuisance" because it grows vigorously and shoots suckers up around it's root ball.

If the plant suckers and seeds SO EASILY, why not suggest that your neighbor root a few suckers elsewhere in his/her yard and allow you to yank the problematic bush? I second the idea of planting a surrounding border of vigorous annuals which you'll expect to turn over each year. You'll prevent the burning bush from spreading outside of the halo of annuals, and at least you can block it from view with taller flowers.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2014 at 1:54PM
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terrene(5b MA)

Umpfan, for seedlings I would apply a light spray of herbicide solution mixed at the rate that is recommended on the label. Spray on a windless, warm, and dry day with no rain forecast for the next 24 hours. Seedlings are vulnerable and are killed relatively easily. For medium-large specimens, I would use a solution that is a somewhat stronger than recommended on the label.

Typically what I do for most larger specimens of Burning bush or other woody invasives such as Buckthorn or Oriental bittersweet, will be to cut the stalks as low as possible at the base and as quickly as possible apply Brush-B-gone or 2-4-d concentrate to the cut stump using a squeeze bottle. This way the herbicide usually kills the roots and prevents resprouting from the base.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2014 at 11:25PM
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