How to kill weed trees?

How to Get Rid of Tree Saplings in Lawns

Looking to discover how to get rid of saplings in your lawn and how to stop tree shoots from growing? We’ll define the terms, give you some tips, and reveal more about this essential landscaping task.

What Are Tree Seedlings in Lawn?

Tree seedlings or saplings are new baby trees up from seed. Now, newborns are cute, but seedlings in your lawn are a different story. They’ll look like weeds, but you can’t treat them as such. You’re bound to use too much chemical to eliminate them, and your grass could be negatively affected.

What Are Tree Root Sprouts?

You’ll hear them called “shoots” and “suckers,” but the important thing to note is that they’re part of the root system of an existing tree. That doesn’t mean they’re good for the tree. They’re often referred to as “suckers” for a reason: you’ll see young stems sprouting from the roots, base, and even up the trunk of a tree. They take water and nutrients from the main plant.

Sometimes, you can handle root sprouts on your own. They’re low enough that you’re not having to use a ladder for the pruning. But you may need to know something beyond how to kill tree root shoots when you’re spotting them well up into the limbs and branches of trees. You’ll need a safe approach and professional help.

Zodega TIS’s lawn maintenance and landscaping can help when it comes to tree health maintenance. They know how to stop tree roots from sprouting and can certainly help you get control of the situation in your lawn. Often, the tree is under stress or even suffering from injury or disease if you’re noticing these root sprouts.

Use Zodega TIS’s commercial landscaping in Houston today as you keep you and your clients and customers safe.

How To Kill Tree Seedlings in Grass

Want the rundown on how to kill tree saplings in your lawn? You’ll need a hose (or watering can, sprinklers, etc.), work gloves, foliar herbicide, spray applicator, and possibly a shovel or hoe. You must be careful with herbicides and use them as directed.

Warning: be sure you’re dealing with saplings and not root sprouts. If you spray herbicides on root sprouts, you could damage the tree they’re connected to. Being forced to consequently physically remove a tree is costly and can even damage the value of your home or business’s curb appeal.

How to Get Rid of Tree Saplings in Lawn

  1. You’ll first need to water all the soil around the seedlings. Do this a day or two before you’re planning to remove the seedlings with your hands or with chemicals. Water the area slowly and thoroughly. This kind of preparation makes the soil easy to manage and more susceptible to the herbicide. Moisture is a good thing here.
  2. If possible, pull out saplings. This is where the shovel or hoe might come in handy. The goal is to get rid of the saplings’ root systems. If this ideal technique cannot be carried out, move on to step 3.
  3. Sometimes, you’ll need to spray the saplings’ foliage with herbicide. Glyphosate and triclopyr may be good options for this. You don’t want to spray so much that the plant is dripping. If the herbicide starts running down onto your lawn, your healthy grass could be in danger.
  4. Don’t abandon your seedling post for too long. Monitor the area. Watch for other seedlings to emerge and manage them by pulling them up or treating them with herbicide.

You can trust the process to the best landscapers in Texas. Leave the time and labor to our experts. Consider using Zodega TIS’s residential landscaping in Houston so that you’re sure the job is done right. We can identify your lawn care needs and set you on a path to a greener home or business.

Importance of Killing Tree Seedlings in Lawn and Removing Tree Suckers

You’ll want to be sure you know how to kill tree seedlings in a lawn for this reason. The saplings can make lawn maintenance, flower bed, and garden upkeep a nightmare. Your mowing equipment and other gardening tools will likely suffer wear and tear from handling saplings or shoots. It’s also frustrating to work with and around these stubborn, weed-like seedlings.

These seemingly innocent plants can also compete with other greenery for nutrients. They can become invasive and difficult to manage. Remove them while they’re young. Don’t wait until you have a fledgling on your hands.

As for suckers (sprouts or shoots) that are part of a tree’s existing system, prune and remove them as you see them. Your tree is likely stressed, and it’s doing what it knows to do to endure. You’re helping the situation when you prune. Professionals will understand when and how to use a growth inhibitor.

Don’t fret if you’re overwhelmed. Contact Zodega TIS for a quote today! We’ll be sure your natural surroundings are healthy, safe, and beautiful. It’s what we do and everything we’re about.

How to Stop Tree Roots from Sprouting in the Lawn

We know trees – inside and out, from the top down. You name it! We can figure out what’s going on with a tree in your yard.

That’s why Joy from San Jose, California, reached out to us for help! She asked, “We have a spring-flowering pear tree in the center of our small front yard. It has sprouted shoots all over the grass. Is there any solution other than removing the tree? What can we do?”

Well, Joy, we teamed up with tree care industry experts to explain why tree roots sprout, how to remove them and if you can stop them from growing again.

Everything You Need to Know About Tree Shoots in Lawn

Why do shoots grow at the base of trees? Are some trees more prone to that?

Tchukki Andersen, a board-certified master arborist and staff arborist at the Tree Care Industry Association, details why this happens.

“Many tree species have latent buds beneath their bark. When a tree becomes stressed–say because the tree was damaged by a storm–those latent buds begin to grow. Essentially, the tree is trying to regenerate itself,” Andersen explains.

Ash trees start sprouting if it’s infested with emerald ash borer, while honey locusts are infamous for growing suckers all over the lawn. Andersen says, “Oaks, maples, cottonwoods, poplars–pretty much any hardwood tree–will begin to sprout if under stress.”

“To the tree, those shoots are a method to endure damage. To humans, they can be a nuisance,” Andersen adds.

There is good news, though. Trees that have sufficient sunlight, water and nutrition are less likely to sprout.

I have tree shoots all over the yard. How can I remove those tree seedlings or water sprouts?

Emily Renshaw, a certified arborist and the credential maintenance coordinator at the International Society of Arboriculture, answers this.

“It can be time-consuming, but I’ve found cutting the sprouts with a good pair of hand pruners looks and works the best. Be sure to cut those sprouts down as low as you can,” Renshaw advises. “Plus, hand pruning is relatively easy if the sprouts are still small.”

Prune and remove shoots as you see them grow to keep the situation manageable. If you leave them, those seedlings can grow into individual trees or try to take over the grass entirely.

How can I stop tree roots from sprouting – especially in the lawn?

Dan Krug, a certified arborist and an assistant district manager at The Care of Trees, a Davey company, office in Chicago, Illinois, handles this common question.

“Really, the best thing you can do is cut the suckers as Emily mentioned, and keep your tree healthy. Sucker growth is genetically what trees do when they become stressed, which makes it tough to effectively control,” Krug says.

Some people try sucker stopper products. “It’s really tricky. You need to use it very carefully. Follow the label precisely, just like if you were taking medication,” Krug explains. “If you use too much, the product becomes dangerous. You can burn the tree, see its health decline or could even kill it.”

Instead, a local arborist may safely be able to apply a growth inhibitor to stop the tree shoots.

If you DIY with a sucker stopper product, monitor your tree for the next few days. If you see distorted or brown leaves, you likely applied too much and should flush the system, like you would to remove winter salt.

“Constantly removing tree suckers can become overwhelming from a mental standpoint,” Krug notes. “But remember: there’s no such thing as a perfect tree. Always do your research before planting, and ask an arborist before you plant a new tree. We think about these types of issues, so you don’t have to.”

Issue: October 25, 1999

Removing large tree saplings near foundation and in hedges


I have some fairly large trees that have come up from seeds in my hedges and are near the house. I canít dig the roots out without damaging the shrubs or the perennials in the flowerbed near the house. How can I kill the trees?


It is better to pull these tree seedlings as small saplings, but sometimes they get large before we decide to intervene, or we buy a home with the oversized weeds already well established.

In some cases, just cutting the tree as close to the ground as possible will be sufficient to kill the tree. If the tree is young, or a species that forms sprouts from the stump, you may find it necessary to ìweed outî the sprouts for a year or two. That is, cut or pull the sprouts as soon as they develop, and donít allow them to become large. By removing the sprouts as they form, you prevent them from developing enough to begin storing food reserves in the roots (feeding the roots). Each time the sprouts form, food reserves must be withdrawn from the roots. By allowing withdrawals but preventing deposits in this food bank in the roots, you will bankrupt the root system and it will die.

Some trees will produce sprouts in the lawn. These sprouts develop from the roots. Again, removal of the sprouts to bankrupt the root system will eliminate the problem in time. It may take a while, but will be effective. If the original tree remains standing, however, sprouts will continue to be formed.

To hasten the bankruptcy of the root system, you may choose to use chemicals which translocate into the roots killing them. This process may not kill all the roots, but should kill more than the simple removal of trunk or root sprouts, speeding the demise of the roots. There are several products which may be used and are labeled for this purpose at garden centers and nurseries. They are called ìbrush and stump killers.î Some other herbicides, such as the glyphosate based herbicides and some of the broadleaf herbicides intended to kill broad leafed weeds, are also labeled for this purpose. Ask your local nurseryman for recommendations and read the label on the container before purchasing the product to see that it will serve your purpose.

It is possible, often preferable, to use these products while the tree is still standing so that the tree itself may assist in moving the product into the root system. Once the tree is cut, downward movement from the leaves to the roots is eliminated, and movement from the trunk to the roots is minimal. Applying the herbicides according to directions, while the tree remains standing, allows maximum effectiveness of the product. Some of these may be applied as ìfrillî applications to notches cut shallowly through the bark. This minimizes the environmental impact of the chemical since it is not sprayed into the air or applied to the soil where it may affect other plantings.

Once a tree has been killed, or if it is cut while still living, use caution. If the tree is near a home or other structure, it may be wise to hire an insured, or bonded, tree care professional to minimize the likelihood of damage to the structure. You may be able to remove smaller trees yourself, but remember that even a small tree will be surprisingly heavy and can harm you or the structure. If the tree is killed before removing it, donít leave it standing a long time if it is near traffic ways or structures. The dead tree will fall in time and can do damage. You should remove it or have it removed so that it will fall in a manner that will do no damage.

Weed Trees: How to Identify and Get Rid of Them

Weed trees. Have you ever had one? I bet you remember if you have.

I will never forget the sweaty weekday I spent weeding the overgrown flower beds at a rental house I lived in with three other people. None of us had grown up taking care of our own flower beds or even doing very much weeding with our parents.

We had full-time jobs. We didn’t pay much attention to those flower beds other than to give them a glance when we had parties in the backyard or to pick the lovely peonies on the back walkway that someone else had planted ages before we lived in that house.

So, one day I took advantage of my unusual work schedule and dug in. I remember not getting very far before my back was burned and my legs and back were thoroughly tired. I thought to myself, “This is why you weed more regularly.” I just hated seeing someone’s beautifully planned-out garden getting choked because I was too lazy.

Then the neighbor lady from the house whose yard backed up to ours came back and thanked me for weeding. She was so nice about it, but she couldn’t help but tell me that the garden had indeed been the pride and joy of the owner who had planted it long before.

That’s Not a Tree

One other thing the neighbor lady mentioned. The tree growing in the front bed, right under my bedroom window?

“That’s not a tree,” she said. “It’s a weed.”

I don’t remember how we got that thing out. However, we did it because we knew if it was left to grow much longer it would be even harder to take out. We didn’t want to be responsible for ruining the foundation of our rental house.

So yes, a weed tree is a very big deal – potentially. You should have an idea of how to identify them and get rid of them before they ruin your property. Don’t learn the hard way like I did.

What Are Weed Trees?

Weed trees are definitely trees, just to clear that up. They are a species of trees or varieties with high seed germination rates, which grow rapidly and colonize quickly.

They tend to choke out other tree species which are slower growing if you’re not careful. These guys come to your flower beds, lawns, and tucked-away corners via nearby trees, wind, birds, and animals. They are usually planted as ornamental trees and are not native to the areas in which they grow.

The problem is what causes them to be chosen as ornamental trees are their biggest drawbacks: they are hardy and hard to kill.

What Trees Are Weeds?

Any tree that is unwanted can be a weed. If you have a tree starting up too near the foundation of your home, you want to get rid of it even if it is a tree. Ultimately it’s not good for your home or the tree to be planted there.

However, there are a few notorious examples of weed trees to watch out for:

Examples of Weed Trees

Norway maple

Norway maple trees were planted as street or park trees when Dutch elm disease wiped out our country’s elms in the 1960s and 70s. They adapt well, they like shade, and they grow to a huge size – 40 to 50 feet.

They have winged seeds that spread over a large area. Norway maples will take over wooded areas and hedgerows if you let them. Norway maples are very pretty – they turn yellow in the fall.

By all means, keep one around if you want one. Just be aware that you will have to watch out for volunteer seedlings all over your property.

Black Locust

Young thin branch of black locust tree

The black locust is native to the Appalachian region and the Ozarks of North America. It is a medium-size tree that has fragrant white flowers in clusters in the spring and feathery leaves in clusters in summer.

They grow up to 50 feet with a narrow canopy. They self-seed easily and therefore have become an invasive species even in their native areas. Once established, black locust is difficult to control.

Tree of Heaven

Young tree of heaven

The tree of heaven is native to China. It was first introduced to the United States from England as an exotic, fast growing, ornamental shade tree in Philadelphia, PA in 1784.

It has groups of leaves, gray bark, and a spreading canopy. It can grow up to five feet per season and grow as tall as 60 feet. It has an unpleasant odor when you cut it down.

This tree multiplies by root suckers which spring up around the base of the trunk.

White Mulberry

White mulberry tree

The white mulberry tree is also native to China. They have orange-brown bark and sweet, edible berries which birds will spread far and wide.

White mulberries adapt and grow well in a wide range of conditions and stubbornly grow wherever – even springing new shoots from trunks or roots of felled trees.

Sound like a great attribute? It is, but that makes a mulberry very difficult to eliminate from your yard.

How to Remove Weed Trees

The number one easiest way to remove a weed tree is to pull it up as a seedling. Therefore, it makes sense to walk your yard – especially if you have hidden little nooks and crannies – when the ground is damp and pick out any possible seedlings you find. Even the end of the summer may be too late for this job to be easy.

If you have waited too long or just didn’t discover your weed tree until it has become too large, there are a few different methods.

  1. Paint. You can cut down the canopy and paint the cut part with regular paint to kill the rest of the weed.
  2. Bark Peeling. A tree gets its nutrients to and from the root system right under the bark. If you peel away its bark, this will eventually kill the tree. But it might be too slow or arduous a way to get rid of a pesky tree.
  3. Chemicals. There are chemicals you can buy specifically for this purpose, but I’ve also heard of household bleach doing the trick when painted directly onto the cut surface of the tree – without killing the surrounding vegetation.

    However, with any chemical, there is always the chance of either killing surrounding vegetation and/or making the ground infertile for some time afterward. Salt will definitely kill your tree. Unfortunately, it will also make the ground infertile. Sometimes you have no other choice.

  4. Pickup Truck and Chains. If you have friends and a good pickup truck, it is possible you could pull the trunk right out of the ground. However, if it is growing close to the foundation of your house, this is not the right method.


Weed trees are any kind of tree that is growing in the wrong place at the wrong time or invasive species that can choke out other native vegetation. If you have a weed tree in your yard, pull it up while it’s still a seedling. Learn to recognize the signs that you have weed trees sprouting and you will save yourself a huge hassle later on.

On the other hand, if you have a tree that you would like to flourish, consider installing Rootwell’s Pro-318 Deep Root System. Pro-318s are porous cylinders provide the distribution of air, water, and nutrients throughout the root zone.

Washington State

Ailanthus altissima

Family: Simaroubaceae

Other Common Names: stinking quassia, copal-tree
Weed class: C
Year Listed: 2012
Native to: China and Taiwan
Is this Weed Toxic?:

Certain sensitive individuals have found contact with plant parts to cause skin irritation and rashes.

Why Is It a Noxious Weed?

It is naturalized throughout Washington. It is a fast growing tree, forming thickets that outcompete native plants. It leaches a variety of allelochemicals into the soil that have demonstrated inhibitory or toxic effects on neighboring plants. It is also noted as being a preferred host for the spotted lanternfly, an insect that could damage many crops in Washington if it were able to establish here.

How would I identify it?

General Description

It is a deciduous tree that grows to heights of 30 to 40 feet (though sometimes larger). Trees have compound, alternate leaves and clusters of male or female flowers. Plant parts have a distinct peanut-butter or popcorn smell.

Flower Description

Male and female flowers are in clusters on separate trees. Clusters are terminal (at stem tips) and are larger when having male flowers. Flower clusters may be up to 12 inches wide. Flowers are light green to yellow and small, about 1/4 to 1/3 inch wide.

Leaf description

Leaves are alternate and compound, made up of 10-27 (sometime up to 45) leaflets. Leaflets with smooth edges except few rounded teeth at with large gland on underside. Terminal leaflets may have 1-2 enlarged lobes. Leaf petioles 2.75 to 5.1 inches long.

Stem description

Young branches are chestnut brown to yellow-brown. Leaf scars are large and heart to shield shaped. Bark on older stems is smooth and gray, and can form shallow diamond-shape fissures as it ages.

Fruit Seed Description

Fruit is a samara—a single seed, centrally placed in a papery wing that is loosely twisted. Size ranges from around 1.5 to 2 inches long by 0.4 to 0.6 inch wide. The color at maturity varies from greenish yellow to reddish brown.

Where does it grow?

It grows in a variety of habitats. It can commonly be found along forest edges, woodlands, fence rows, roadsides, railroad embankments, old fields, and urban parks. Click here to see a county level distribution map of Tree of Heaven in Washington.

How Does it Reproduce?

Plants can reproduce by seed as well as vegetatively by roots and stump sprouts. Cut branches and trees can also form roots when left on moist ground.

For More Information

See our Written Findings for more information about tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima).

Report on tree-of-heaven from the book “Weed Control in Natural Areas in the Western United States”

Columbia Gorge Cooperative Weed Management Area information on tree-of-heaven

How to Remove a Sapling Tree

small blade image by Stepanov from

Some varieties of trees can sow themselves energetically by dropping seeds onto the soil. If you do not keep a careful watch over your landscape, a tree sapling might begin growing in an undesired spot. Often by the time you notice the sapling, it is large enough to prevent you from simply pulling it up out of the soil. When this occurs, you must remove a sapling tree by extracting it from the growing location.

Create four or five superficial wounds just slightly deeper than the bark of the sapling with the pruning saw or lopping shears. Space the notches between 3 and 4 inches apart and place them at various spots along the sapling trunk.

Apply the glyphosate herbicide to the notches with the paintbrush. Coat each notch generously with glyphosate to enable the herbicide to soak into the sapling’s inner system. The tree will transport the glyphosate down to the roots of the sapling to kill the sapling.

Wait and watch the progress of the glyphosate on the sapling. Over the next one to two weeks, you should notice the sapling begin to wither and die. If the tree does not begin to visibly die within this period, apply the glyphosate a second time.

Cut down the sapling with the pruning saw or lopping shears just above the soil level after the tree withers and dies.

Ask the ISU Experts

How do I destroy volunteer mulberry trees in my hedge?

Cutting off volunteer trees near ground level will not destroy most trees. Most trees that are cut off near ground level will produce new shoots at their base. To effectively kill unwanted trees, their root systems must be removed or destroyed.

One way to destroy small volunteer mulberry trees is to dig them up. The root systems of small trees are not very large. Digging up the small trees is a viable option.

The application of a systemic, non-selective herbicide, such as glyphosate (Roundup), is another way to destroy volunteer trees. Glyphosate is most effective when applied to actively growing plants. Therefore, wait until the trees are fully leafed out and actively growing. Anytime from late May to early September should be fine. At this time, cut off the trees near the ground and immediately apply glyphosate to the cut surfaces. A small, foam-type paintbrush makes a good applicator. The exposed, live tissue at the cut surfaces will absorb the herbicide and translocate it down into the roots, effectively destroying the trees.

I would like to start some geraniums from seeds. When should I sow the seeds indoors?

Geraniums are relatively easy to grow from seeds. However, they are slow growing. Geranium seeds should be sown in early to mid-February to produce flowering plants for spring. Flowering occurs approximately 13 to 15 weeks after sowing.

When can I transplant my rhubarb?

Early spring is an excellent time to transplant rhubarb. As soon as the ground is workable, carefully dig up the plants in early spring before growth begins. Dig deeply to insure getting a large portion of each plant’s root system. Large rhubarb plants can also be divided. Divide large clumps with a sharp spade or butcher knife. Each section (division) should have at least one or two buds and a portion of the root system.

Replant the rhubarb as soon as possible. The roots must not be allowed to dry out prior to planting. If the rhubarb can’t be planted immediately, place the clumps in a plastic bag and store them in a cool, dark location. This temporary storage should be fine for a few days.

Rhubarb is easy to grow. It performs best in full sun. Avoid shady sites near large trees or shrubs. Rhubarb also requires fertile, well-drained soils that are high in organic matter.Sandy and clay soils can be improved by incorporating large quantities of compost, barnyard manure or other forms of organic matter into the soil before planting.

When planting rhubarb, place each section upright in the planting hole with the buds 1 to 2 inches below the soil surface. Space the plants about 3 feet apart. After planting, water thoroughly. Continue to water the plants throughout the first growing season. During dry weather, a deep soaking every 7 to 10 days should be adequate.

To aid establishment, don’t harvest any rhubarb the first two years after planting. Rhubarb can be harvested for four to six weeks in the third year and until mid-June in succeeding years.

Rhubarb can also be transplanted in early fall (mid-September to early October). Mulch fall planted rhubarb with several inches of straw in mid-November.



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Volunteering with TreePeople is fun and rewarding. Our events empower you with the support, training and tools you need to be an engine of change. Join us each week as we plant and care for trees, remove invasive species and maintain our beautiful park!

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FAQ – Volunteering with TreePeople

We offer a variety of volunteer opportunities to plant and care for trees, restore our local mountains and to work in our nursery and park. To get started, take a look at our volunteer calendar and register for an event that suits you. Once registered, we will automatically email you with details and directions.

See our other volunteer opportunities if you are interested in being an office or photography volunteer.

Volunteer opportunities are available for all ages with a few restrictions. People under the age of 18 not accompanied by their parent or guardian must provide a parental consent form at the event (English/Spanish). In the Angeles National Forest specifically, volunteers under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. We ask that groups provide an adult chaperone for every 10 minors.

Registration is required for all events. We have to limit volunteer participation to ensure that we have enough tools, equipment and work for everyone. If you plan on bringing friends and family, please check that everyone has pre-registered for the event online.

We limit the amount of volunteers at each event so everyone has a safe, fun and rewarding experience. If an event is full, please check to see if we have availability at another event or join us on a different day.

Absolutely! For groups of 10 or more volunteers please contact [email protected]

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