Ask Master Gardener Volunteer
Get Rid of Unwanted Vegetation
Do you have little tree seedlings growing up along a fence, in a hedge, or near other shrubs? And every time you cut one down, three sprout from the stump, right? There are a number of ways to get rid of unwanted vegetation, but in the above instances, something more surgical may be desired.
‘Cut Stump Treatment’
The technique I have found to be most effective is the ‘cut stump treatment’ method. Simply put, paint the freshly cut stump with undiluted brush killer. I’ve found that there are a few things that make the process a little more manageable.
The brush killer I use has the active ingredient Triclopyr in it. Those with Glyphosate will also work.
For the Really Small Tree Seedlings
For the really small tree seedlings I have, I use a small brush (1/2 inch chip brush, small eyeshadow brush, or other inexpensive small brush) and a small cup (yogurt cup or laundry detergent cup). You may even want to put a small cup in a larger low plastic container to provide some stability in rough areas and a place to put the brush where you can find it and not tip over the container with the herbicide in it.
Avoid Chemical Burn on Skin
Be sure to wear some kind of moisture resistant gloves to avoid getting the chemical on your skin.
I position the cup containing a small amount of the herbicide and the brush within reach of the seedling.
I hold the seedling near the ground with my left hand and with my right hand, I cut the seedling above where I’m holding it.
With my left hand still holding the seedling stump, I put down my clippers, dip the brush in the herbicide solution, and paint the stump.
I do it this way so I don’t lose track of the little stump in the leaves.
This is a rather slow process, but it seems to work. Of course, the squirrels keep planting more acorns and such everywhere, so the process has to be repeated every year or so.
Treat the Stump Immediately
It is important to treat the stump immediately after it’s cut. The cut plant responds to the cut by drawing any remaining moisture back down into the roots, so if painted right after cutting, the herbicide is drawn down into the roots.
For More Information
This technique works on everything from tiny little seedlings to larger trees. For more information on eliminating woody plants, you may want to read the following publication: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ag245 .
Unfortunately, this has not worked for me on the more aggressive and prevalent vines such as wild grape vine, virginia creeper, and those in the smilax family. Some of the smaller more delicate type vines can be eliminated by holding the cut vine stem in the herbicide for 30 to 60 seconds. The challenge is getting enough of the chemical into the vine’s system to actually kill it.
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