How to keep suckers from growing at the bottom of a tree

Written by dawn gibbs
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Suckers are tree sprouts that grow up from shallow roots at the base of a tree. Suckers appear during the spring, and will sap energy from the tree. This can cause stunted growth, lack of flowering, and a small fruit harvest for fruiting trees. To prevent a tree from forming suckers, it is important to immediately treat the present sucker growth. Once present sucker growth is gone, steps can be taken to prevent further issues.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Shovel
  • Sucker killer
  • Topsoil

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  1. 1

    Cut back any present suckers. Use the sharp edge of a shovel to separate the suckers from the base of the tree, or cut them off at soil level. Cut back all the suckers as soon as you see them in the spring, before they become longer than 10 inches.

  2. 2

    Spray the spot where the sucker met the tree, or where it came out of the ground next to the tree, with sucker killer. Sucker killers are chemical herbicides formulated specifically to stop sucker growth. Follow the directions on the package for application. Sucker killers prevent future sucker growth.

  3. 3

    Use the shovel to dig down to the problem root, if your suckers are growing out of the soil and not the base of the tree. If all the suckers seem to come from one spot, you may have only one root that is suckering. Dig down to that root, and use the shovel to sever it from the tree. Remove the root from the soil and discard it.

  4. 4

    Pour a 4-inch layer of topsoil over the ground around the base of the tree, covering the areas where you have seen suckers and removed them. Suckers come up from shallow roots, so increasing the soil depth will prevent them from growing in the future.

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