Spraying Suckers on a Large Tree

Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by JimLewis, Jul 15, 2009.

  1. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,835

    Ok, I have this customer who has a large tree in his back yard. I wasn't able to ID the tree for sure. Might be a birch. But it's definitely larger than most birches I see around here (most here are Himalayan White Betula jacquemontii). It seemed to have white bark on the upper part of the trunk, after about the first 15' or so. And the leaves looked like birch leaves, but a little larger than the ones I typically see. Tree is a good 50-65' tall with a trunk diameter of at least 30".

    Anyway.....so this tree is planted along his back fence. In fact, the fence is build AROUND the trunk of the tree. And it is sending out little suckers ALL OVER his back lawn. I'm not talking about suckers up near the trunk either. Most of them are at least 10-15' away from the trunk and they go up to 60' away from the tree. Just little tiny 6" tall trees everywhere. They are about 5' appart from one another all over the entire yard.

    So he wants a back yard renovation. First thing we would have to do is kill off his existing lawn, blackberry bushes, ivy, and other brush. In the process of spraying out the lawn, we'd be hitting these little suckers too. So that's where my dilema is.

    If I use Crossbow on those suckers, are they going to travel back 15'-60' to the main tree and kill the entire 50' tall tree? Or will the crossbow just kill the suckers only?

    And if they WILL go back and kill that tree, then how do you get rid of those damm things without spraying them with crossbow? I'm pretty sure round-up isn't going to kill them.

    Also, we realize that the tree's roots will eventually send more out at a later date. But if we could at least kill off the ones that are there presently, that would be kind of a good fresh start to his back yard. Then we can install a new lawn and he can address the new little ones as they come up.
     
  2. mdvaden

    mdvaden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,934

    Reminds me of where I grew up as a kid. The house is still there by the way. You know where a small piece of Hedlund Lane is uphill from Hedlund acres, south of Wier and north of Teal?

    We had a Black Locust (my guess is you may have a Quaking Aspen or Poplar).

    Put sucker trees in the big lawn area, and we mowed them. Doin't recall spraying them.

    When we finally cut the tree down, the suckers went bonkers. One or two hundred little trees. I remember spraying them at that point. The lawn was not irrigated and mimimal grass growth in summer. So I skipped mowing for a few weeks and let the small trees grow a bit of height to get leaves. Then used lawn weed herbicide - the typcical 3 in 1 type weed killer.

    Took more than one application.

    Honestly, if I could do it again, and there was a way to protect everything else and spray down the entire tree and kill the parent plant, I'd do it. Or if it could be injected.

    You need to save the parent tree?

    Or are you going to cull it?
     
  3. hughmcjr

    hughmcjr LawnSite Member
    from Oregon
    Posts: 183

    Hey Oregon, Oregon here. Salem Area. Don't go by what I do, but every year I get suckers at the base and surrounding areas of flowering cherry trees. I spray them every year with Garlon or Crossbow and have not had any issues with the trees themselves being affected. I do know that some trees are very susceptible to damage if the same thing is done, so you have to be careful and either know or hope.

    Are the suckers coming from main tap roots? I am trying to think about Birches I have seen and dealt with and I do recall some suckers from main roots away from the tree itself, but it has been a while since I have had to deal with any birches at any customers of mine.
     
  4. mdvaden

    mdvaden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,934

    Hey Jim. Off Boones Ferry near Lake Oswego, I just prepped a lawn area for folks so they could lay their own 300 square feet.

    There was a poplar up the slope on the other side of the fence about 35 feet from the lawn below. The poplar was about 40 feet all and only a 9" diameter trunk.

    Can you believe it grew an inch thick mat under the thrashed previous sod over maybe 75% of the area ... that's Populus genus for you. Told these folks they have to go see their neighbor about the tree, because it will get worse. We had to build up a layer of soil. Extensive stump grinding was beyond their budget, but there was enough soil to work with.
     
  5. olive123

    olive123 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 500

    scythe or possibly diquat
     
  6. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,835

    But doesn't Scythe just burn the leaves? It doesn't kill all the way back to the root does it? Won't they just come back if I use Scythe?
     
  7. Blood Bought

    Blood Bought LawnSite Member
    Posts: 67

    A diquat product will burn off the foliage of the suckers then you can spray out the lawn.
     
  8. olive123

    olive123 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 500

    if you dont want systemic action most will only burn the "green". Without seeing the suckers its hard to tell. If they are tender they will burn down. The only other thing i would try is remedy (triclopyr) but it is systemic. I would try the scythe in a heavy mix first it is after all an acid and should work.
     
  9. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,835

    After looking at some photos online I'm fairly convinced it's a cotonwood tree.
     
  10. hughmcjr

    hughmcjr LawnSite Member
    from Oregon
    Posts: 183

    And we have plenty of them in Oregon. :) Can't say that I have sprayed suckers on those with Crossbow, so I can't help there. I know some probably reacted with shock when I said I spray the suckers at the base of ornamental cherries without damaging the main tree, but I have done this for at least 8 years now and have done it every year. I have sprayed the entire foliage of Hazelnut trees and other hardy trees with Garlon/Crossbow that are established at my home and properties I maintain to kill them off if they have come up where they are not wanted as in the middle of a plant. These aren't full grown trees either. The next year they are back as healthy as ever. One hazelnut growing in the middle of my Daphne Odorous got sprayed 3 years in a row with the same results of it coming back. Finally I cut it low and stump treated and it is finally gone.

    This is just some of my personal experience with suckers and small volunteer trees.
     

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