Kill Those Root Suckers!
You've done the right thing. You've cut down that stinking Bradford pear. But you didn't remove the stump and roots. So now a million suckers are sprouting from the spot. Lord-a-mighty, what's a homeowner to do?
Let Grumpy explain. When you cut down trees, some grow back and others don't. Needle-leaf conifers, such as pines and spruces, almost never grow back. That's because they store food in their needles. Cut off the stored food and the roots starve.
Deciduous trees, on the other hand, store food in their root systems. Cut off the top of the tree and the roots try to replace it by sending up suckers. Among the worst suckering trees are fruit trees -- apples, crabapple, cherries, plums, pears -- as well as black gum, black locust, poplars, birches, crepe myrtle, empress tree, honeylocust, willows, and silver maple.
What can you do to prevent suckers from growing from the roots? Well, the first answer that comes to mind is grind down the stump and remove the roots when you cut down the tree. Or paint the freshly cut stump according to label directions with Brush Killer or Roundup. But if you're reading this, it's already too late for either. OK, let's move on. Here are a couple of more solutions.
*Run your lawn mower over the suckers every week from spring until fall. Eventually, the roots will run out of food and give up the ghost.
*When the suckers grow to the size shown in the photo above, spray them according to label directions with Brush Killer or Roundup. The leaves will transport the herbicide down to the roots and kill them. Depending on the size of the tree, you may have to spray several times as new suckers sprout.
(Note to readers -- Please don't inundate me with complaints about recommending Roundup. I've heard it all before and am not interested in hearing it again.)