Poplar's roots

tony_treeMarch 11, 2006


I have a poplar tree right behind my garden. Its invasive root system makes nothing grow in my garden except for some weeds. I recently dug out one of its woody anchor roots plus some of the smaller transport and feeder roots in my garden, about 1/8 of its root area. I intended to keep the tree alive. My question is two folds. Will its root system invade my garden again? Do I need to dig out the dirt between the poplar and my garden every year to check and cut any new roots?

Secondly, for those smaller roots remaining in my garden that originally connected to the cut anchor root, will they eventually die? Should I apply herbicide (such as Brush-B-Gon) over them? I worry that they may continue to live and hurt my future plants.

Thank you for any kind help and suggestions.


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highjack(z6 KY)

The severed roots will die on their own. Every place you severed a root will produce new fine roots rapidly, sorry.

If you intend to garden in that spot, when you fertilize and water the area, make sure you broadcast the fertilizer and water the entire area or your tree is smart enough to find the extra nutrition and moisture.

Did you every consider a container garden in that area? Even then, you will need to put the containers on bricks/pavers to keep the tree roots from growing into the pot looking for the extra water.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2006 at 2:57PM
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Hi highjack,

Thank you for the reply. Do you think that digging a 10-inch wide trench between my garden and the tree can expose future new-growing roots easily? How deep should it be to make it work? Please forgive me if I am very naive. Actually I'm a very new gardener.

I thought about the container, root barrier, etc ideas. I doubt it's a DIY job. I don't know if I can handle that degree of complexity.

Your further help is much appreciated.



    Bookmark   March 14, 2006 at 12:25AM
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madtripper(5/6 Guelph)

The roots will grow back. You could chop them off at the edge of the garden each year or two. I am not sure a trench will help. Roots would just grow to the bottom of the trench and enter your garden.

Once you have removed the roots, new ones would not be a problem if you plan to dig up the garden each year - for example for vegtables or annuals.

The smaller roots left behind will die and help fertilize the soil.

Tree roots will not "find your water and fertilizer" as suggested - it is neither smart nor does it have a brain. Tree roots may grow better in areas that are well watered and fertilized.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2006 at 6:54PM
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