Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
4 ratings

Tuesday - August 16, 2011

From: El Paso, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Pests, Problem Plants, Trees
Title: Killing oak sprouts from El Paso TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I want to know how to kill oak root sprouts and seedlings. Very dense and out-of-control in huge area of front lawn. I had tree cut down and I still cannot get rid of them. They're only getting worse. I need help asap. They have already lifted my sidewalk, walkway, lawn between 4-12 inches in different areas. I need an immediate solution. I need to find a very powerful herbicide. I want to make a driveway in that area so I don't mind killing all the vegetation in that area.

ANSWER:

First we want to refer you to an all-purpose previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer that has links in it to a lot of other answers, all on the subject of oak sprouts and what to do in order to try to control them.

Please don't indiscriminately spray herbicide, any kind. It will drift onto other plants, not only your plants, but your neighbors. It will contaminate your soil and go into the drainage into the water supply. It is pollution on a large scale, and will not do your particular problem any good. The shoots that you have coming up are the attempts by that tree to survive. Each shoot that comes up quickly develops some leaves, which then begin to manufacture nutrition for the tree. As far as those roots are concerned, that tree is still alive. Spraying herbicide might brown some of the shoots (and kill a whole lot of other stuff) but the root is protected by the earth. We would recommend contacting a licensed arborist and having the roots ground out, since you are going to have to level to pour the concrete or whatever you are using for the driveway anyhow.

Even grinding out the roots will not totally eliminate the sprouts or suckers. There will still be enough viable root to get those sprouts going. Frequently the appearance of suckers occurs when the tree sustains some damage, like being cut down. But when you pour the concrete, that will stop the shoots from coming up, right there, anyway. Stay vigilant at pulling out, clipping off or mowing the shoots. Eventually, the roots still alive in the ground will starve to death because by destroying the shoots you have denied those roots the food they need to survive.

 

More Trees Questions

Is the fruit on Texas olive (Cordia boissieri) edible?
October 17, 2010 - I planted Cordia boissieri (Texas olive) in my garden and its thriving. Now I'm getting fruit from the tree; they are grape-sized waxy and soft. Is this fruit edible (by humans)? Should it be ...
view the full question and answer

Identification of tree or shrub in Massachusetts
May 16, 2013 - Good morning, We are in Zone 5 and have a tree/shrub I cannot identify in the backyard of our new home. Tall (6')and growing, green stems,and when the stems are broken the branches smell of lemon o...
view the full question and answer

Treating cuts in tree trunks
November 21, 2009 - We have two young trees that deer made bad cuts in the trunks. What can we put on cuts to keep bugs and disease from getting in them.? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Hurricane damage on oak in Houston
April 01, 2013 - We have a very large oak tree that survived our last hurricane with lots of lost limbs. Then there was the drought. We have lost three large limbs on separate occasions on non-windy days. I love this ...
view the full question and answer

Identification of bush with red berries
March 11, 2013 - bush? grows along fence lines in rural areas; sheds foliage in fall; berries appear; colors vary from red to orange, depending on soil?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.