How to Get Rid of Tree Sprouts in Grass

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Things You'll Need

  • Lopping shears

  • Pruning saw

  • Glyphosate herbicide

  • Paintbrush

Not all trees are welcome.

When you think of weeds, the first thing that comes to mind may be dandelions, crabgrass and other leafy plants. But trees can be weeds too. Several species of plants put out suckers that sprout from the trees' expansive underground root systems. They may be just a few inches or several feet from the parent tree. If you find these weedy tree sprouting in your grass, remove them while they are still sprouts. If left to their own devices, they will become trees in their own right and much harder to remove.


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Step 1

Grasp the sprout at its base.

Step 2

Pull it toward you sharply to snap it off the root. If the sprout is already too large to snap readily, you'll have to prune it with a pair of sharp lopping shears or pruning saw. Pruning cuts stimulate the tree to regrow another sprout. It may grow three or four in its place. Snap the next set of sprouts that regrow from that area.

Step 3

Paint the underground cut portion with a small paintbrush dipped in a bottle of glyphosate-based herbicide. It will stop the sprout from regrowing and kill the portion of the root responsible. Only do this, however, if the shoot is at least 3 feet from the tree. Also use this method if you plan to remove the tree eventually and don't mind introducing a little herbicide into its system.


Certain trees like Aspen, hackberry and certain species of apple are genetically programmed to send out lots of tree sprouts. If one of these trees grows in your yard, you will have a sprout problem. If it is too much to handle, or the sprouts are spreading into your neighbor's yard, consider replacing the tree with a less invasive variety.

David Ferree, retired Ohio State University Horticulture and Crop Science researcher, advises that trees that are planted too shallowly are more prone to rooting. If you don't mind uneven spots in your lawn, add a few inches of soil over an area around the tree that is roughly twice its canopy's diameter.