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Lee Standley: Brush control on small acreage can be done with several methods

An increasing number of families reside on semi-rural acreage in Denton County.

Property values of these tracts will exceed undeveloped native rangeland values if brush species are controlled. Removal of brush species will also increase the carrying capacity of livestock as well as the land’s aesthetic value.

Knowledge is important if using a herbicide method to control unwanted brush. In order to avoid poor control and damage to desirable trees and shrubs, the applicator must be very aware of product use, application rate and method and plant identification.

Most brush species are crown- or root-sprouting. Therefore, if removed by cutting, regrowth will occur and possibly be a bigger problem than before. Mechanical methods also are effective and will safely control these unwanted plants. Mechanical control may include hand grubbing or the use of equipment with grubbing attachments.

Small acreage owners may choose hand grubbing because of the high cost in contracting or leasing large equipment. Hand grubbing will provide a high degree of control if plant tissue is removed below the root crown so that sprouting buds are eliminated. Depth of removal can range from four to 14 inches. If the species are above four feet or are in a number of more than 50 plants per acre, the use of herbicides might be the better option.

The cut-stump method is good for larger species and can be done any time of the year.

A diesel fuel and herbicide mixture of 25 percent by volume will provide good control and prevent sprouting. Cover the fresh-cut surface area (particularly the cambium layer next to the bark) but be careful not to apply diesel fuel to the ground or use as a foliar spray. This could cause ground water contamination.

Basal treatments can be used for species that are less than six inches in diameter. Conventional basal applications (rates same as for the cut-stump method) will involve  an application to the trunk base 12 inches from the ground line up and is best used on single-trunk species. Low-volume basal treatments involve the use of a sprayer to coat the trunk of the species from the ground line to 12-16 inches with a 25 percent herbicide and 75 percent diesel fuel mixture.

Streamline basal treatments are also applied with a sprayer but set on a straight stream. This mixture will include a herbicide (25 percent), diesel fuel (65 percent) and a penetrant (10 percent). The mixture is sprayed in a narrow band (two to three inches) around the base of the plant.

This works best on plants with smooth bark. Plants with diameters of more than six inches may require frilling before applications. The use of some herbicides that are approved for brush control will require a private pesticide applicator license to purchase and apply to be in compliance with state and federal laws.

The Denton County AgriLife Extension Office will offer a Private Pesticide Applicators training and license testing from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday at the Denton County Extension Office. To register for this class, or for more information, contact Pamela Hill at 940-349-2880 or by e-mail at


Lee Standley is County Extension Agent-Agriculture & Natural Resources for the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension of Denton County. He can be reached at 940-349-2880.