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Two varieties of locust tree grow in the United States, the honey locust tree and black locust tree. Both types of locust tree are common ornamental plantings, but these sturdy trees are also useful in preventing erosion and as windbreaks. Like most trees, both varieties of locust tree may develop shoots, or suckers, at the base, though the black locust is more prone to them. Whichever variety of locust tree is in your yard, you will remove the base shoots in the same way.
Inspect thriving locust trees for suckers weekly. Walk around each locust tree in your landscape to look for shoots coming up at the base of the trees.
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Remove all locust tree shoots as they appear. When you find a new shoot at the base of the locust tree during your inspections, pull the shoots up like weeds if they are very thin and small to break them from the roots. If the shoots are more than 1/2 inch when you find them, use shears to cut them off at ground level to keep from disturbing the roots of the locust tree beneath the soil.
Inspect and pull up shoots at the base of locust trees that have been cut down as well. Check the base of a locust tree stump every week and remove any shoots that appear. If you continue this process, according to Barbara Medford of the University of Texas, the roots of the locust trees eventually starve from lack of sunlight and the locust tree stump will rot naturally.
Kill shoots coming up around locust tree stumps with an herbicide brush killer if they are causing issues or if the shoots appear too quickly for you to keep up with them. To kill the roots of the trees, and therefore the shoots that form from those roots, most effectively, dig to find a large, main root of the tree and cut into the root. Apply the brush killer to the exposed area of the root with a paintbrush to attack the roots of the locust tree directly.
Always wear gloves and safety glasses and keep all areas of skin covered when handling herbicides, such as brush killers.
By painting brush killer directly onto the roots of locust trees, you kill the plant more quickly and also prevent contamination of the surrounding soil and plants.
- United States Department of Agriculture; Honey Locust Plant Guide; Guy Nesom; February 2003
- United States Department of Agriculture; Black Locus Plant Fact Sheet; John Dickerson; February 2002
- University of Texas at Austin; Plant Propagation; Barbara Medford; July 2009
- Donnan; Honeylocust Sprouts; Sandy Feather; 2010