black locust problem

ikea_gwSeptember 21, 2011

We bought our house about 3 years ago and the previously there was a black locust tree about 8 ft from the house. The previous owner cut the tree down before we moved in but the tree tried to send up shoots every year from the stump.

Is it a bad idea to have a black locust tree that close to the house? I don't think the top of the tree will hurt the house but I worry that the roots will damage the foundation. Any thoughts on this?

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Dan Staley

Cut it out and kill it. There are worse trees to have that close to the house, but not many.


    Bookmark   September 21, 2011 at 5:41PM
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Dan, I already tried cutting it down to the ground several times. It doesn't seem to kill it. Any thoughts on how to achieve this? I would prefer to not having to use chemicals.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2011 at 5:54PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

When you cut it down, immediately paint a weedkiller containing the active ingredient triclopyr. That material is moved into the roots and, over time will kill them so now more sprouts.

But you need to repeat the cut and paint every time you see new growth. Best time to do it is fall, when the sugars are moving into the roots.

If you don't want to use weedkiller, then simply dig to the base of each new sprout, then yank it off the larger root it arises from. This method does work but requires a longer period of time than if you used the weedkillers as described above.

Whatever method you use, the goal is to starve the roots.

In any event, it may require several years. It's your new hobby.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2011 at 6:24PM
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Dan Staley

It's your new hobby.

Agreed. I don't know how well copper nails would work on that one.


    Bookmark   September 21, 2011 at 7:19PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

I know you said you preferred not to use chemicals, but, IMO, that's the sensible way to address the problem. A very small amount of a relatively safe chemical (at least safe on a per use basis and for this application-trying to avoid the philosophical hypotheticals) can do the job very well and save you possibly years of continuous effort. Either triclopyr (Brush-B-Gon, Garlon, etc) or glyphosate (RoundUp, Gly-4, etc) can do the job well. Use them in their concentrated form and apply them to the freshly cut phloem. It's also important to treat all the suckers (not just a few or a few now and a few some other day).

    Bookmark   September 21, 2011 at 7:39PM
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I will give the triclopry or glyphosate a try then when I get a chance. Thanks guys!

    Bookmark   September 21, 2011 at 8:44PM
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brad_s(Z5 IL)

Black Locust makes great firewood if that's any consolation ;-)

Another good time to cut these down if you wish to minimize the post removal root sprouting ( way to *completely* eliminate the root sprouting) is to whack it down to the ground in late spring as soon as it sets flowers. At this time of year it has exhausted the most of the energy that was stored in the roots from the previous season in order to make the current year's leaves and flowers. Treat the stump with herbicide as others have described no matter when you take it down.

- Brad

    Bookmark   September 24, 2011 at 10:10AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

When using systemic herbicides, I find fall (before dormancy) works best. I get absolutely zero sprouts on most anything I treat at that time of year. The chemical is pulled down into the root system, as the sap is moved down, and works extremely effectively.

If I wasn't going to use herbicide, I'd definitely prefer doing the removal in spring just after the tree leafs out, for the reasons Brad described.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2011 at 2:51PM
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I just cut down a 2ft diameter black locust which was sending shoots all throughout my flower beds, and into my neighbors garden. I'm going to guess that these shoots will persist for a few years, but my idea is to drill some holes in the cambium of the tree stump, and inject some stump killer into it.

There are thousands of roots within about a 40ft radius so it's almost impossible to dig them all out, but I would guess that after so many years of continual mowing and shoot removal, the roots should run out of energy.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 2:20AM
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