How To Stop Tree Sprouts From Stump

Finally, the tree which has been causing so much trouble with your sidewalks or pushing up foundations has gone. All that is left is a tree stump. The tree is no more. Except that under the ground, the tree stump is not dead. Unless you take immediate action, sprouts will emerge, not necessarily from the stump, but further away, from distant roots that are still living. In this article, we’ll be covering how to stop tree sprouts from emerging from the stump!

Tree Sprout Growth

Suckers emerging in the middle of the lawn is a sign that it is too late to take the most effective action. They gain energy from the food reserves left in the root system and grow stronger than ever, tormenting you with their refusal to go away easily.

Water sprouts are also an unexpected problem. (Water sprouts will grow from the stump but suckers from the root system.) They emerge as a result of a vigorous pruning of dormant buds on branches. This is a misunderstanding of the situation – it thinks it’s having an overdue haircut, but you want the tree gone. 

So when contemplating cutting down a tree, it is essential to factor in thorough removal of the stump to avoid re-growth altogether.

There are two ways of ensuring this doesn’t happen: stump grinding or chemical sprays.

Stump Grinding

The quickest and easiest way of doing this is to employ the services of a professional. If you are contracting someone to cut down your tree, you can ask if they also have a stump grinder. This piece of equipment grinds down the stump below the level of the ground, shredding it. This should be done to a level of at least 6-12 inches below ground level. 

There is always the option of doing it yourself by hiring a stump grinder. But take care when taking this ‘cheaper’ option. If you don’t do the job properly, suckers will start growing from the stump, and you will be in for a lot more work than you bargained for.

Once you have the stump ground fully, the root system will start to die off.  

Chemical Warfare

Using chemicals is generally more toxic, but they stop sprouts in their tracks and stop your stump sprouting very effectively.

The best time to use a stump killer is as soon as the tree has been cut. It doesn’t take long for the suckers to start to grow, so the quicker you take action, the better.

Drilling holes (at least 8 inches deep) and pouring herbicide in them straight away goes a long way to preventing this problem. Typically, these particular herbicides come in a powder form that can be poured into the holes with a little water. 

There are specialized tree stump killer products available, which are well worth looking into. You may even find one developed specifically for your variety of tree roots.

A more environmentally friendly method is Epsom salts, which can also be effective – if used promptly. The same process can be used, and the effect is the same. It may take a little longer to eliminate your tree stumps as it is not as concentrated as a non-organic product.

If you have not done this in time, a more general ‘broadleaf’ herbicide will be more effective. These usually have a glyphosate base. Care needs to be taken when using these sprays as the tree stump will not be the only thing they kill off. Make sure you spray on a calm day and directly on the sprouts. Several applications will generally be necessary as the roots are usually wide-spread, and sprouts will keep emerging. 

Non-organic sprays will kill roots but are a product to treat respectfully – making sure they are out of the reach of children and stored safely. Bear in mind that the product will stay in the soil, causing difficulty in planting out new trees or other plants. After all, these are for general weed killing – which is what your tree sucker problem has become – a serial pest.

Some garden specialists recommend digging out the sprouts as they emerge. It would be best if you dug below the soil surface for effective removal. If possible, go as deep as the roots. This will be a long process but can be combined with a chemical-based approach with good results.

Final Thoughts

Trees are persistent, and like any living thing, it takes a bit of effort to stop that living process. For complete removal of your trees and to keep the suckers on trees to a minimum, it may be best to contact your local arborist or tree service. You will be able to get advice for the quickest way to remove the tree in its entirety while keeping a safe environment for all.