roots in ground after the tree is removed

sammy zone 7 TulsaOctober 24, 2009

I had 3 trees removed. Maple, Cottonwood, and another.

We did not want to pay to have the stumps ground, and have them chase after the roots since many of them were around my roses.

I know that salt can help kill the stumps and probably the roots too.

Now that the trees are gone, the roots don't know that it is gone, and will continue to live and grow probably? If I cut a huge root, will the part of the root that is separated from the stump try to live on, and take nutrition from my roses? If we (my husband) cuts a huge root, what damage will it do to the lawn and flowers?

I know you are all for trees here, but I don't know where to ask. The cottonwood was so nasty, and if it fell could ruin our roof and chimney. The sugar maple had scale and all of them were loaded with ants. Now they were attracting wooley aphids.

I don't know if the roots will just harmlessly disappear in time, or if they will become nasty and hurt the soil.

Thanks for any help you can give me. I intend to offense to tree lovers.


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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

The stumps and roots will rot. Only problem for roses could be if Armillaria appears, spreads into the roses. If you are not in a forested neighborhood there may not be any around.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2009 at 7:37PM
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sammy zone 7 Tulsa

I will leave them alone, and just try to separate as many as possible from the stump.

Sometimes when I take out roses, if there are many roots, the rose will re-root. If the tree roots were to do that, then I think they would take nutrients from the roses.

I will just concentrate on getting rid of the stumps and roots.

Thank you for your reply.


    Bookmark   October 25, 2009 at 7:00AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

roots are future compost.. it is not really an issue ....

the cut stump should be treated with 100% roundup or stump killer.. applied to the green layer inside the bark .. the cambian ... anything that comes up in spring or next year.. should be treated with more roundup .. just snip off and a few drops of roundup [generic is cheaper] ....

poplars are very aggressive in returning.. it may take you a year or two to completely kill them ....

decomposing wood in soil ... can tend to eat up available nitrogen ... so you should watch you good plants for signs of chlorosis or yellowing.... if that occurs.. you will need to fertilize the plants ....

you will have a few years of magnificent mushroom shows... i really enjoy such .. its just mother earth using up the rotting wood ...

i am really surprised you had roses growing with those monster trees .... and they should be fed a couple times a summer anyway ...

just make sure you snip and drip on anything that comes up in the next few years ...

i have never paid for stump removal ... welcome to the club ....

good luck


    Bookmark   October 25, 2009 at 2:25PM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

When they grind the stumps, they don't normally chase after the roots.

That said, I wonder if the other folks here know about cottonwoods. Those remaining roots will sprout. Again and again. And if not dealt with, you can end up with a small forest.

Consider recutting the stump, then painting the outer 2 inches of the fresh cut surfcae with a weedkiller good against woodies. A product with triclopyr works well for that.

Then do the same when new sprouts do appear -- cut & paint.

You now have a new hobby which may endure for several years.

Be persistent or the tree roots will win.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2009 at 3:29PM
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sammy zone 7 Tulsa

So, none of you recommend salt?
I use Round Up every other week. I have all rose beds and paths now. The rose beds are not raised, but every rose is planted in a hardware cloth cage, and we use a couple of bags of top soil and compost for each rose. We also work up the entire bed or I am not sure that I could have grown many roses. None of the roses were ever within the apron of the trees. But the tree roots ran across our yard, and are probably under our patio. 20 -30 years is a long time.

Our third tree was an Ash. It did not seem to be as bad as the others, but I found it in the ravine, I did not buy a good specimen.

My husband intends to take a drill into the stumps, and pour in what we pour in. He was also going to go after any large roots wherever we could find them. Do you have any idea how often we should treat them?

I live in Tulsa, OK, and the leaves are falling. Will the Round Up or Stump Killer or Triclopyr still work in the winter, or will that be wasted?


    Bookmark   October 25, 2009 at 4:09PM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

No salt. None. It will wreck your soil long before it kills the roots.

OP said "intends to take a drill into the stumps, and pour in what we pour in."

Pouring stuff in does no good. Fresh cut by removing the top of the stump will absorb weedkiller better & more effectively.

The triclopyr will work if used NOW.

Triclopyr is far better at killing woodies than is Roundup, its active ingredient glyphosate.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2009 at 11:32PM
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sammy zone 7 Tulsa

Thank you once again.
We will get busy today.


    Bookmark   October 26, 2009 at 6:40AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

"Triclopyr is far better at killing woodies than is Roundup, its active ingredient glyphosate."

I'm not aware of any study that would support that general statement, but do know of many that would contradict it. Some species do seem more sensitive to one than the other, but most woody plants can be treated effectively with either. BTW, most here probably know this, but glyphosate is the active ingredient in most RoundUp products. As Ken said, the generic form is less expensive, and it may work better than some of the newer RoundUp formulations (The ones that claim 12-hour results can actually be less effective in the long run).


Properly drilled holes can be used to administer herbicides to stumps, but the hole should be drilled down into, or right beside, the phloem. As was alluded to above, pouring herbicides into the xylem (inner part of the trunk) won't kill the stump.


"Do you have any idea how often we should treat them?"

It depends on factors like type of tree, how the chemical is applies, time of year, and more. If the herbicide had been applied immediately after the tree was cut, a single treatment might have done the trick. Now that the tree's vascular system has greatly slowed in the trunk area, multiple applications may be required. If new sprouts are treated promptly, the root system will eventually give up. Just keep some undiluted glyphosate or triclopyr handy to apply to the sprouts as they are noticed. A small paintbrush or sponge might make a good applicator.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2009 at 1:29PM
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