How to kill tree seedlings in lawn

How to Get Rid of Tree Saplings in Lawn?

By The Daily Gardener

Keeping your lawn healthy and lush is a job that requires a lot of work. You need to know about overseeding, watering, mowing, fertilizing, weed control and more – and the last thing you want to have to deal with is an invasion of tree saplings.

If trees begin shooting up in your lawn, they are there due to one of two reasons, and to deal with them, first, you need to work out where they came from. Once you know why they are growing, you can begin to take action.

Here we look at everything related to how to get rid of tree saplings in lawn.

If you want a preview, here’s a video that talks about many of the issues we’ll be discussing.

Table of Contents

Where are they coming from?

There are basically two reasons why you have a sapling problem, and one is much easier to deal with than the other.

The first reason you may have saplings in your lawn is that seeds from a nearby tree are falling there are beginning to sprout. This may be annoying because you still need to deal with them, but if this is the problem, then you’re lucky.

The other reason you might discover saplings springing up throughout your lawn is because a root from a larger tree is growing under your lawn and is throwing up suckers. This is a more difficult problem to deal with, especially if you don’t want to damage the parent tree.

How to determine where the saplings come from

It should be fairly easy to establish whether the saplings are coming from seeds or from a root. When you first notice the saplings, just try pulling them up.

If they are simply small trees that have only established a shallow root system, they will be easy to pull up and you will be able to remove the young tree and most of the roots in one go.

However, a sucker that has sprung up from a large root below the surface will be a lot harder to pull up since it will be attached to something much more substantial. If you do manage to snap the root and pull something up, it will be quite clear you have left a lot behind too.

Dealing with seedlings

Let’s look at how to deal with seedlings first. This is by far the easier job since they can essentially be dealt with in a similar way to other unwanted weeds.

The only difference is that if you let them grow, they will quickly become a lot bigger and tougher than your average weed.

If you catch them early enough and there are not too many, the simple way to deal with seedlings is just to pull them up one by one. Try to ensure you remove the whole root system or you risk them regenerating from the part you leave below the surface.

If they are more established, you may need to dig them up and then reseed the patches of lawn where you had to dig holes.

If the saplings become too well established to pull or dig up or if you don’t want to start digging holes in your lawn, you might also choose to treat them with a chemical herbicide.

Start by giving your lawn a deep watering a day or two before the treatment – they will be more susceptible to the herbicide if they have had plenty to drink.

Cut the stem right down to ground level and brush the top of the cut stem with the herbicide – use an undiluted non-selective herbicide like glyphosate. This will kill the seedling and prevent further growth.

It is very important not to use this treatment if the new trees are actually suckers from a parent tree since this approach is likely to damage or even kill the parent tree too.

If the suckers are coming from a tree in your neighbor’s yard, you may end up killing your neighbor’s tree!

Keeping a thick, lush lawn will also prevent seedlings from becoming established in the first place.

How to deal with suckers

If you find yourself dealing with suckers, you need to decide on the best way to tackle the problem. If you can establish which tree is sending them into your lawn, the most drastic course of action is to remove the parent tree – although this is rarely practical.

You can try to excavate the sucker back down to the main root and cut them off there. If you are lucky, they won’t grow back – but if you just prune them and don’t cut them right off, you will only encourage them to grow back even more.

Also, try to establish why the tree is sending up suckers in the first place. Trees usually send up suckers when stressed, and by working out why the tree is unhappy and taking steps to resolve the problem, you may be able to stop it sending up further suckers once you cut them back.

Another option – again, quite drastic but not quite as much as removing the whole tree – is to excavate the root or roots responsible for the suckers and then placing a weed barrier underground to prevent more roots from growing under your lawn.

There is another option, although it should be used with caution. Some products claim to be able to kill suckers without damaging the parent tree.

If you decide to go down this route, make sure you read the instructions carefully. Since there is a risk of damaging the parent tree with this kind of treatment, you may be better off calling in a professional arborist for help.

A professional will be able to assess the situation and give you advice on the best way to proceed. With serious sucker problems that can’t be resolved by any other methods, calling a professional can sometimes be the best choice.

A much cheaper option is simply to keep cutting them down with your riding mower, electric cordless lawn mower or other types of lawn mower. However, this will just put the problem off until later, and eventually, you’ll have to deal with it properly.

Establish the “root” of the problem and act accordingly

As we have discussed, knowing where the young trees are coming from is the most important first step. Young trees growing in your lawn can be the result of one of two quite different problems, and you need to understand which you are dealing with before you can start trying to resolve the issue.

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How to Get Rid of Tree Saplings | Kill 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.

How to Stop Tree Offshoots from Sprouting in Lawn

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.

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Importance of Killing Tree Seedlings in Lawn and Removing Tree Suckers

How to Kill Tree Seedlings in Lawn

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.

How to Kill Tree Suckers or Tree Offshoots

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.

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How to destroy the undergrowth on the plot

Before you start planting young trees and shrubs on an overgrown (abandoned) site, you must definitely get rid of the old undergrowth. Trees should be removed so that in the future the growth does not appear on the site again. It is always difficult to deal with the shoots of plum, cherry, sea buckthorn, shadberry, chokeberry, bird cherry, American maple. Wild (and the American maple is constantly, it is generally some kind of alien), they give an abundance of root shoots. It is extremely difficult to destroy it by simple physical removal by cutting to a stump with a pruner or a saw. The shoots will reappear on the site from year to year, striving to grow where you don’t expect it at all.

Rooting plants are always problematic. They should not be planted next to crops suffering from root damage (apple, plum, honeysuckle). Usually, such crops are isolated during planting by digging deep into the soil (at least 60–70 cm) obstacles made of slate and other durable materials.

The most aggressive are bush and hybrid cherries (especially poor-bearing varieties and forms), some old raspberry varieties. Common cherries (European varieties) and own-rooted plums produce less shoots. In general, the more productive the variety, the less overgrowth.

Sea buckthorn forms an average number of shoots. This growth should be removed carefully (covering up the damage) so as not to cause the death of the bush.

Viburnum, golden currant, sheferdia give little shoots.

Remedies for undergrowth

There is an abundance of chemicals on the market now, using which overgrowth can be defeated fairly quickly. These drugs are called arboricides, with their help you can not only remove shoots, but even destroy entire trees. However, such strong chemistry can harm nature and surrounding plants, so it can only be used as a last resort.

Weed herbicides

Slightly safer is the use of herbicides - weed control products. How to use herbicides to remove overgrowth? You can just water the shoots and trees with herbicides, but there will be no sense from this - the leaves and grass around will dry up, and the next year the shoots will start growing again. Therefore, it is necessary to use herbicides to combat trees and shoots in several stages.

1. Cutting down trees in autumn

I advise in autumn, when there is a downward flow of substances in plants, to cut down a tree at a height of about 25-30 cm, making the saw cut even.

2. Make holes in the saw cut

Using a drill, make vertical holes 5-10 cm deep in the saw cut. Larger holes should be made, so choose the maximum diameter of the drill. The number of holes usually depends on the diameter of the cut: with a diameter of 12-16 cm holes, at least 6-8 pieces with a diameter of 1.5-2.5 cm are needed; with a diameter of 30-35 cm - 15-17 holes, etc. Drill holes closer to the borders of the cut, and not in its center - this way you will get into the conductive layers, and not into the wood.

3. Fill the holes with herbicide

We will fill the holes with herbicide. Glyphosate-based products, such as Roundup, are suitable. It must be diluted in a ratio of 1:3 or 1:5, and then pour the resulting solution into the holes.

4. Cover the saw cut

After the herbicide has been poured into the holes, the saw cut must be covered with plastic wrap or a regular bag. Shelter saw cut is necessary so that the preparation does not lose its strength under the rays of the sun, in order to exclude its evaporation and protect it from external moisture, which can wash out the preparation or reduce its concentration. The shelter will also protect neighboring plants from the effects of the drug, because heavy rain can wash the drug out of the hole, flowing down the trunk, the herbicide will fall into the zone of vital activity of other plants.

5. Repeat the procedure

Approximately after 5-6 days, it is advisable to renew the holes: drill deeper or drill a little wider with a thicker drill, fill again with the drug in the same concentration and cover with a film. If necessary, you can repeat this operation again, but usually two is enough.

6. Uproot trees in spring

After the second procedure, leave the plants alone until spring, and in the spring start uprooting already dried up and completely dead plants. When uprooting, be very careful to remove all parts of the plant's root system from the soil. Even a small part of the roots remaining in the soil can lead to the restoration of growth activity, and the shoots will reappear on the site.

Herbicide Safety Precautions

Always wear safety goggles, respirator and protective gloves when working with herbicide. After use, they must be burned, their repeated use may lead to poisoning. In case of accidental ingestion of the herbicide, immediately call a doctor and vomit; in case of contact with skin or eyes, rinse with plenty of water.

Lawn grass protection overview

If weeds are in full swing on the grown young lawn, it's time to declare immediate war on them. Otherwise, the fragile grass will be squeezed out by a more powerful root system of weeds, and when they enter the insemination phase, it will become much more difficult to remove them. Get in the mood that weed control on the lawn will become one of the points of constant lawn care, because even through a three-year-old sod, dandelions, wheatgrass and other perennials can break through.


  • 1 Commencement of the fight half a year before grass sowing

  • 2 Killing weeds in the first season of the lawn

    • 2.1 Cosmetic clipping: restraining the growth of annuals

    • 2.2 Rake: kill creeping low growing weeds

    • 2.3 Perennial Warfare Equipment

  • 3 Aged Lawn Cleaning Rules

  • 4 Why is the lawn overgrown with moss and lichen?

According to the rules of agricultural technology, the first fight against weeds is given even when they are just beginning to prepare a site for creating a lawn. Those. the owner outlines the boundaries of the future lawn and pours its surface with herbicides of continuous action, which destroy all vegetation without exception. These drugs include Agrokiller, Tornado, etc.

A comparative review of weed control products will also be useful: https://diz-cafe. com/ozelenenie/sredstva-ot-sornyakov-na-ogorode.html

The effect of herbicides appears on the 5-7th day after spraying, and the plants gradually dry out. After 2 weeks, you can dig up the ground, select all the roots of perennial weeds and roll the site without sowing it. Then they wait for a fresh crop of weeds to sprout on the finished field, shed it with the same herbicides and leave it alone for a month until the chemistry is completely decomposed.

During the preparation of the site for sowing lawn grasses, the land is treated with herbicides twice: before digging and after the first weeds appear

Grass sowing starts no earlier than one month after herbicide application. Otherwise, poison preserved in the ground can partially destroy the seeds.

As you can see, the preliminary struggle is extended in time, and it is better to start it either in summer, and sow grass in autumn, or in August-September, leaving the lawn “fallow” for the winter, and sowing it in early spring. This method of processing perfectly burns annual plants, which especially bother the lawn in the first year of life. But the roots of dandelion, couch grass, plantain can still remain in the soil even after such a tough chemical weeding.

How to choose the right grass for planting a lawn can be found in the material:

If weeds have not been pre-treated, then in the first season they will actively begin to win a place under the sun from thin seedlings of grasses. To be honest, even after herbicides, harmful "neighbors" will still appear, but not in such numbers. Therefore, the struggle continues, but becomes more careful in order to preserve the young greens.

Cosmetic haircuts: restrain the growth of annuals

To destroy annual weeds on lawns, try to mow them together with the grass before flowering. In this case, they will not have time to form seeds and disperse them around the site. From cutting, the roots of annuals will not die out, but the plant will become weakened. Repeated and subsequent cuttings will finally “finish off” the pests. Mow the lawn as it grows, but at least once every two weeks.

Tip! Try to carry out the first mowing only when the blades of grass rise to a height of about 7 cm, otherwise it will be difficult for them to recover.

Rake: kills creeping low growing weeds

In addition to annuals, there are creeping plants that do not fall under the cutting height and quietly develop further. This includes wood lice, bindweed, etc. They fight with them by combing the lawn with a rake. When mowing with trimmers, you still have to rake the grass left on the lawn, but behind the lawn mowers, you do not need to collect anything. Therefore, the owners deliberately comb the lawn to undermine the roots of creeping plants and rake out the felt that accumulates near the grass roots. Felt is formed by dried blades of grass. If it is not removed, the quality of the lawn will deteriorate and bald spots may form.

Ware with perennials

The most terrible enemy of the lawn is perennials with powerful rhizomes: thistle, dandelion, plantain, etc. You cannot take them with scythes and mowers, because dormant buds will instantly wake up on the roots, which will grow an even more powerful plant. This type of weed in the first year of the life of the lawn is removed only by hand. And you need to take it out so that the whole root stretches out. The slightest remnant of it will form a new weed.

If there has been no rain for a long time, then pulling out perennial weeds with your hands is useless: part of the roots will still remain in the soil

If you do the whole procedure with your own hands, then the only convenient time is after prolonged rains. The soil should be so wet that the roots simply slip out of it. But it happens that the weather did not provide you with such an opportunity, but time does not endure. In this case, use garden tools designed for digging up such weeds. They are available in several variants.

Weed remover. Developed by the German company GARDENA especially for gardeners who, for health reasons, cannot weed bent over. It has a length of 110 cm so that weeds can be removed while standing. Principle of operation: you insert the tip into the center of the weed, scroll and pull it out along with the plant. The device is expensive, but experienced gardeners claim that it justifies itself.

The principle of operation of the weed extractor is simple: you insert the pin into the ground with force, rotate it 180 degrees and take out the plant together with the root

Spatula for removing rhizomatous weeds (the second name is a root remover). The shape is similar to a child's shovel, only the working part is narrow and elongated up to 30 cm. The metal is bent at an angle to cover the weed from different sides. It enters deep into the soil, lifting the plant along with the roots, but in order to drive the tool into a perennial lawn, considerable force will have to be applied. Such a tool is produced by both GARDENA and the Russian brand Sibrtech.

The root remover easily penetrates the soft soil of a young lawn, but it must be driven into tightly bound sod with force

If you do not have enough money for such a purchase, take a metal corner half a meter or more long, sharpen its edge at an angle and weld a handle on top so that it can be grasped with two hands (it resembles a sword in shape). You can drive this corner to a sufficient depth and pry even huge horseradish roots. True, you have to bend down to stretch the plant.

Material on lawn care technology will also be useful:

Using any of the above tools, removing the weed will leave an empty earthen hole in the lawn. It must be immediately trampled down, and if the diameter is large, then sow the grass, otherwise the wind will cause new weeds.

Do not expect that in a year the lawn grass will get rid of weeds. With all your efforts, the seeds will still germinate, because there are billions of them in the soil. Therefore, even on a dense rooted lawn, “enemies” periodically appear. If the lawn is already a year old or more, move on to chemical attacks using selective herbicides. The most popular is Lontrel Zood, created specifically for processing strawberry and lawn plantations. It destroys all vegetation on the lawn, except for cereal grasses. Especially good against dandelions. The sites are treated a week after mowing.

If perennials are scattered not over the entire area, but only in certain places, then you can apply "acupuncture". For this, a conventional medical syringe is used, into which a ready-made herbicide solution is poured. Insert the tip into the center of the weed and release the poison directly into the stem and the beginning of the root. This method will allow not to overload the cereals with chemistry, and the dandelion, which was “vaccinated”, will gradually dry out and disappear. At the same time, there will be no empty space on the lawn that will have to be sown.

Herbicides are not sprayed over the entire lawn area, but locally, in places where weeds accumulate, so as not to chemically poison the cereals once again

If mosses and lichens became a problem for the lawn, then their appearance provoked poor maintenance and waterlogging of the soil. Try first to improve aeration by piercing the turf with garden species or special foot aerators. Feed the grass and make it known. And if this does not help, you will have to think about drainage ditches from the edges of the lawn.

Mosses and lichens often disappear from the lawn after you establish constant aeration by piercing the sod with a garden pitchfork once a week

Often, mosses attack a lawn located in a shady place. If trees provide shade, try pruning them slightly and thinning out the branches. And to make your lawn even more useful from weed control, make a liquid fertilizer out of them and feed the grass periodically.

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