How to Control a Poplar Tree

Fast-growing poplar trees can create problems for homeowners. White or silver poplar tree roots sprout new plants that can clog septic and sewer lines. Controlling the poplar tree takes diligence and work. If the tree is cut down, the root sprouts will continue to grow rapidly. The poplar evolved with these characteristics to survive fire and drought. In addition, a variety of poplar called the cottonwood tree produces white, cotton-like seeds from the female plant, which fill the air and cover the ground, creating a nuisance.

Examine poplar trees regularly in the spring. Remove all new sprouts with a shovel by undercutting the sprout and pulling it out as soon as you see leaves on the plant.

Check the plant every week and remove more sprouts. If a sprout has produced more than eight leaves, the plant begins to send surplus food back to the roots.

Continue this process diligently. If the sprouts are in a lawn, they can be removed with a lawnmower or a line trimmer.

Continue to starve out the root system and exhaust the food reserves by removing the sprouts until you notice the majority of sprouts are not continuing to regrow.

Prune the lower branches of the tree every year in the winter to maintain a straight tree form. A poplar tree will grow between five and eight feet per year.

Things You'll Need

  • Sharp shovel
  • Lawnmower
  • Line trimmer
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About the Author

Linda Shepard has been staff writer for "C & G Newspapers" for over 10 years, covering local government and crime and serving as the newspaper's food writer. She has written for "Michigan Meetings Magazine" and is also the owner of, an online business of self-guided walking tours.