Aspen Roots

hones21(z5 - Utah)May 18, 2005

My house has a couple Aspens in the front yard. Part of the root system runs along the side of the house and sends up suckers all over in our flower beds. Some of the roots have really become a menace and seem to be crowding out some of the other plants we have in the flower bed. We also want to add some additional perennials into the flower beds, but anytime we start to dig it seems like we hit a root (usually an inch or so in diameter) If we chop into and remove that section of the root, are we going to cause major problems for the tree? The specific spot where the root is "in the way" is probably 20 feet from the base of the tree. Will the tree adapt and generate additional roots to compensate?

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delray(z5 UT)

My parents in Wyoming chopped out a lot of Apsen roots that were in a bed and it had no effect on the tree whatsoever. These trees can really be a menace with their searching root systems. They have little trees popping up in their lawn from this same root system.

I have several Aspen confined to 30-50' wide berms. Some are about 6 years old, and none of them have made it to my lawn or beds yet. I planted them for a quick forest along with some Cottonless cottonwood along with more select (slower) trees. My plan was to remove some of them as the other trees grew up. We will see how that plan goes ;-)

    Bookmark   May 18, 2005 at 1:22PM
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Istanbuljoy(Z 5 CO)

The problem with Aspens is even when you cut them down, they still sprout from the stump! The runners are envasive. Neighbors even get free trees!

Istanbuljoy

    Bookmark   May 24, 2005 at 6:03PM
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canyon_home

As reported, the biggest living thing on earth is a massive aspen grove in central Utah. It's all one plant.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2005 at 10:43AM
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LibbyLiz

Where is this at? I'd like to see it.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2005 at 3:49PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Hi Hones,

I 100% guarantee that cutting out the roots won't hurt the tree! A have neighbors on one side with Aspens, and I have Aspen trees coming up ALL OVER in MY front yard, and the neighbors behind me have cottonwoods, so I have cottonwoods coming up ALL OVER my backyard! Boy, do I hate Aspens and cottonwoods! Everytime I dig ANYWHERE, it's a big tangle of roots running every which way. I've had to cut out roots as big as my wrist as far as 50 or 60' away from the cottonwoods. If there are that many roots that I run into when I dig here and there to plant something, it's hard to even try to imagine how many roots are down there. The biggest problem I've been having---aside from trying to cut them out---is that after I cut them they seem to react in self-defense and start sending up a bunch more "trees"----which I sometimes think I may have to keep cutting off in perpetuity! I---reacting in self-defense---have started spraying the new unwelcome trees with weed killer, but I haven't been doing it long enough to tell you if it helps.

The rental house I moved out of last year had an old cottonwood that was starting to literally fall apart, so the owner had it taken down, and while I had had to mow the spreading trees off along with the grass for years, as soon as it was cut down, a virtual forest appeared in the yard---they are VERY good at perpetuating themselves, and a feeble little human being is not very easily going to be able to get rid of---or even injure them.

Happy root cutting,
Skybird

P.S. I actually love Aspen trees-----in the mountains---where they belong!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2005 at 12:34AM
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amester(Z4/5)

Skybird, please let us all know if the weed killer works. We have finally taken out the last few aspen on our property (we started with at least a dozen) and have the last few stumps out as well but the suckers are still going strong. We are going to attempt to trace the roots and pull every last one out (worth the effort, in my opinion) but if we don't get them all I'm hoping that some Roundup might deliver the death blow. :)
Best of luck, you have my sympathy - thankfully only one neighbor has aspen and they don't seem to be coming over. We did have a 70' cottonwood that was on our propery line but thankfully the owner took it down last fall so we can whack out the roots all we like...
Who plants these stupid things in the city anyway???

    Bookmark   June 14, 2005 at 11:59AM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Amester, I just found this thread again when I did a search for aspen trees, and thought IÂd answer your question. The roundup I used on the cottonwood suckers all over my back yard did turn out to be effective for the rest of last summer. Hopefully it damaged the roots enough in those areas that they wonÂt be coming back again in those placesÂthough I know theyÂll continue to come up in different places for as long as I live here.

What I did since these were mostly coming up in the middle of my grass was to pull as much of the grass back from the sucker as I could, and then lay sheets of newspaper as close in around the suckers as I could before spraying them. I did kill off a little round patch of grass in each area, but it didnÂt take too long for that to fill back in, and it was worth it to get rid of at least some of the suckers. Where they were near perennials, I just did the same thing and covered them up with several layers of newspaperÂbeing even more careful to not get any on the perennials. None of the perennials were damaged, though none of the suckers were right up against the perennials like they were in the grass.

Unfortunately the aspen suckers in my front lawn are so thick IÂd have to virtually kill off my entire front lawn to get rid of them out there. From what IÂve personally seen, I think aspens sucker worse than cottonwoods. My neighborÂs aspen is more dead than alive now, and I think that may be whatÂs making them even worse. The roots are absolutely determined to go onÂand on and on and on.......... When I went to the garden center to check out the stuff you can get to kill suckers in the grass without hurting the grass, they told me that, unlike roundup, it wouldnÂt hurt the roots. I said, but I WANT to hurt the roots! I decided to not get it since it was VERY expensive, and thatÂs when I decided to try the roundup. This summer I plan to keep up with the roundup method in the back yard, and hopefully eventually IÂll damage some of the roots enough that I wonÂt have quite as many of them coming up. ThereÂs no way in forever that I can possibly hurt enough roots to damage the tree!

Good luck with getting rid of your aspens,
Skybird

    Bookmark   April 6, 2007 at 3:50PM
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emagineer(z5 CO)

The Aspen grove is out of Provo Canyon and maybe you can get there through Heber. It has been a long time since driving through. The road is closed during the winter and you can only drive one way. I think the road opens in June.

Here is a link that might be useful: Utah aspen grove

    Bookmark   April 7, 2007 at 9:49AM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

IÂm going to resurrect this thread one more time for anybody whoÂs battling aspen or cottonwood suckers in their lawns. I have finally found a way to deal with them!

When I mentioned to a neighbor last fall that I seemed to have a hopeless problem trying to get rid of some thistles that kept coming up in my front lawn in spite of everything I had tried to get rid of them, she said her husband used Weed B Gone on them and other weeds in their lawn. Well, I decided to give it a try this yearÂand since the aspens coming up in my lawn qualify as weeds also, I tried it on themÂand it seems to be working! ActuallyÂknock on woodÂthe Weed B Gone seems to be getting rid of the aspens surprisingly easily. There are always more coming up since my entire front lawn is "infested" from the neighborÂs dying aspen, but I just keep a pressure sprayer around with the mixed solution in it, and every other week or soÂwhenever I notice some of themÂI get it out and spritz them.Thank goodness! They look SO bad since they grow faster than the grass and are always sticking out all over before I cut the grass again and making the whole yard look really ratty.

So for anything thatÂs in the grassÂaspens in the front yard and cottonwoods in the back yardÂthatÂs what IÂm doing now, and for the cottonwoods in the back yard that are growing in and around my perennials, IÂm still using RoundupÂvery, very, very carefullyÂand thatÂs working well too.

I am SO happy to have found a way to deal with these things,
Skybird

P.S. The thistles IÂm still having a problem with. The Weed B Gone is knocking them down some, but they keep coming back. I think itÂs going to take a while to get rid of them completelyÂkinda like bindweed.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2007 at 8:00PM
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stevation(z5a Utah)

I have some aspens in a border in my backyard. They've been in the ground six years, and they're at least 10' away from the grass and up in a higher terrace surrounded by a low boulder wall. Well, they're roots have finally found their way into the lawn and we have a few suckers coming up regularly. We don't like the suckers but we want the trees to live.

So, here's the question: if I spray weed-b-gon on them, will I kill the parent tree or hurt it significantly? I assume it has roots all over the place, so I'm wondering if hurting these roots won't be too harmful. Or maybe weed-b-gon doesn't kill roots like Roundup?

    Bookmark   July 8, 2007 at 2:46AM
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outside_rein

Does anybody have experience with the girdling method of killing the whole darn grove? I HATE them in the garden and i'm scheming to kill all at once but i can't find any suggestion of WHEN? I give up on the cottonwoods they can have the whole ditch but im wanting to take back the gardens and get rid of the aspens.
girlding in the fall or spring? the theory is to cut off all the leaves so that the roots don't get nourishment and die too, without alerting the trees that they are being attacked by actually cutting them. this would leave me to believe spring would be the best time. any info on this???

    Bookmark   October 26, 2008 at 12:52PM
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jclepine(8b)

"Girdling is easiest in late spring or early summer when the sap is flowing and the bark readily peels away from the sapwood"

I got that quote from this page:

Here is a link that might be useful: page

    Bookmark   October 26, 2008 at 6:38PM
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echoes_or(Zone 3)

my surrounding neighbors all have aspens and cottonwood trees. I've lived here for almost 20 years and never had any issues with suckers UNTIL I stopped using any weed and feed products on my lawns. When I stopped I had suckers sprouting up everywhere. So reluctantly I will be going back to using those products on my front lawn.

Cottonwood trees also have large surface roots that lay on the top of the ground that are very ugly. Our town water/sewer systems is having problems because of the roots infiltrating the lines. Not sure the beauty is worth their issues.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2008 at 7:06PM
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jzamyslicka_hotmail_com

What is the best rototiller to get rid of Aspen roots? I live in the Canadian Rockies.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2009 at 11:22AM
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eagreve_msn_com

We bought this place about 2 years ago and along the driveway the previous owners had planted some Aspens. These things are crazy! They have invaded our sewer lines! We cut the trees down and ground away the roots, but they keep growing in the sewer lines and making it back up all over the basement. How do I kill these things? Can I pour Weed B Gone into the sewer? or Round Up? Will it even help? Will anything help?

    Bookmark   June 16, 2011 at 7:16PM
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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

Can I pour Weed B Gone into the sewer? or Round Up?

NO

Dan

    Bookmark   June 16, 2011 at 9:15PM
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sburt

I am also dealing with this monstrous aspen problem. When we bought the house over 10 years we were thrilled with their beauty. Now we are experiencing a "sucker invasion" that is ruining my lawn and flower beds.
My question to those out there in the "know" is, I understand that there are species of aspen with roots that grow deep and are more suitable for a residential setting.
Would love to hear any information you might have. I live in eastern Oregon.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2011 at 5:16PM
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david52_gw

You can get the same look with assorted species of birch trees without the root problems - I have a weeping birch thats beautiful.

As for roots that are invading sewage lines, I think plumbers use copper sulphate. But it will kill the plants as well.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2011 at 8:27PM
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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

Maybe I'll bookmark this thread for the inevitable question about planting aspen and I suggest no, then the OP gets mad at my reasons. Again. And again. And again. And again. And again. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Dan

    Bookmark   July 3, 2011 at 10:42PM
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almondstriations

Our new neighbors just planted 3 aspen trees along their back fence, which is the border between our backyards :( I was so bummed out when I saw what they were, and am even more bummed out after reading this thread.

I was hoping maybe there was some way to prevent the suckers from invading our backyard, some sort of physical barrier, but realistically they probably run too deep to install an effective barrier. Ugh... We are still planting out the tree and shrub border at our backyard, and it depressing to think that someday whatever we have there will be invaded by aspen suckers :(

    Bookmark   May 28, 2013 at 2:40AM
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david52_gw

Along the same lines, the pioneers that showed up in this part of the country brought along some species of sour cherry - its not grafted, just shared among friends by sharing the suckers.

I finally cut mine down this spring, I have 3 other cherry trees that are grafted and give much better fruit.

Now I'm dealing with the suckers - out to about 50 feet from the original tree......

On the positive side, I've got some of the pioneer strains of suckering Green Gauge plum, and dig those up and share those out. They too, if given enough water in fertile soil, can get to be impressive......

    Bookmark   May 28, 2013 at 10:23PM
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dlynn2

We have someone cutting down dead aspens in our yard this very minute (over $1500 to cut them down). While the 12 year old mature trees are all dying, the hundreds of annoying sprouts all over my yard seem to be thriving. We even have one that has sprouted up through a drain in the middle of our patio.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2013 at 6:40PM
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