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Do My Own Lawn Care - How to Get Rid of Tree Suckers

By DoMyOwn staff

Although tree suckers are not all that harmful, they are pretty ugly to look at. In this video, Paul will discuss what causes tree suckers and how to get rid of them. He will also do a follow up in the last video, where he treated the turf type tall fescue in the back for buttonweed.

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Video Transcript

What is up everybody!? Thanks for coming back for another Do My Own Lawn Care video. Before we get into today's subject I wanted jump into the back yard and do a follow up on our button weed problem video. So, let's go back there.

Overall, really great success with the post emergent that I mixed up and sprayed back here. Or I should say spot sprayed back here. And I don't know if you can tell on camera but these bare spots and kind of thinned out areas that you're seeing is where a lot of the button weed was. So, again, the post emergent that I mixed up and spot sprayed back here in the back, did a really great job of kicking the crap out of the button weed.

I waited about a week, I busted out my mower, gave it a fresh cut, and my button weed problem was almost, ALMOST, all gone. I noticed there was a few fresh new patches that popped up. It's not a whole lot. It's just right in there is a little bit, and right in here is a little bit as well. But overall, post emergent worked, it did what it needed to do, cutting it down helped, and it is pretty much all gone!

Ok, so on the last video, I gotta call myself out. I learned a valuable lesson. See, I was going for convenience and ease of use, which is why I used my battery powered backpack sprayer. And while that's great because you don't have to pump and it keeps a consistent pressure, the problem with using that one is, I keep a fan tip nozzle on it at all times, because that's what I primarily use to do my pre and post emergent blanket applications over the whole yard every year.

And that's not really what you want. What you really need is a one gallon hand pump sprayer that's got an adjustable cone nozzle on the end, so that you can go through a lightly spritz the weeds for these spot treatments. And the reason I say that, what I noticed after about a week, is the four gallon back pack sprayer, the battery powered one with that fan tip nozzle, although it did put a good amount of chemical down in the yard, what it did is it kind of just burnt up some of the areas back here in the back. Now since then, those areas have bounced back because we've had a good amount of rain, but what I learned from that is, the constant pressure of a battery powered sprayer and that fan tip nozzle, just puts too much out to be doing spot spray treatments. So again, do yourself a favor, just use a one gallon hand cannon with that adjustable cone nozzle.

So on today's video and why I'm making it. I went out of town for a week, and I came back, the yard hadn't been mowed, and, well, it looked like this.

And because of that, I noticed this lovely little problem.

And that lovely little problem are suckers that are coming from, my crepe myrtles here in the front yard.

And before we talk about how to deal with this problem from the crepe myrtles here in the front, let's first talk about what causes suckers in the first place.

Alright, so what causes suckers? Generally there's two main reasons. One, the tree or the shrub is under stress or two, a graft has failed.

And before explaining those two reasons, if your trees like my crepe myrtles back here are just starting to look like shrubs because they've got a whole bunch of bushy clumps of young stems sprouting from either at the base or a spot up on the tree, those are suckers. Those are what we're talking about. And why are they called suckers?

That clump of stems or anything that's coming from the base or the trunk, they're called suckers because they zap water and nutrients from the main tree. They're unhealthy, they're unsightly, they just look bad and they're kind of just sucking the life out of the tree.

So going back to our two main reasons, reason number one, stress.

So suckers are a tress attempt at growing more branches. Most often because it's had some kind of injury. If you have exposed roots that are on top of the turf or on top of the soil, and those roots have been damaged, most often the tree's going to sprout suckers from that area.

If the suckers are growing higher on the trunk, we call those water sprouts and those most often show up because of some kind of pruning injury or crack on the tree trunk or other some kind of damage.

So you want to make sure you prune these off when they're really young because if you wait until they get older their tender skin can turn to bark, and if you try to prune them off then, you could risk damaging the trunk of your tree.

Suckers are a sign of age. When your trees are starting to get older, they might start to decay, and that's when they tend to sucker more. 

If  you've got a wood boring insect, that's probably going to disrupt the tree's ability to get water and nutrients up to its branches and instead its going to send it off to those suckers.

Now on to the second reason, grafts. And grafts for those who don't know are the trunk and branches of one kind of tree spliced onto the roots of another. Now sometimes those grafts fail at the base of the trunk and when that happens, the root stock is going to start sending out shoots of it's own, those are suckers.

And if you don't prune out those suckers, the root stock of the flowering tree can actually over take the tree that it was grafted to.

Now tree suckers are not really that huge of a problem, but you want to deal with them early on so that you can preserve the long term health of the tree. Or in my case, it's just making your yard look terrible! So let's talk about how to deal with them.

Right here's a really good example of what I'm talking about. This is at the base of one of my crepe myrtle trees right here in the front. I usually don't let them get this out of control and big but I wanted to give you a really good visual and a really good example of what suckers look like.

So again, you can see this is at the base of the tree. Looks like there use to be some significant branches coming off right here and somebody has pruned that back. I didn't do that. Somebody previous to me did. But uh, the tree is kind of stressed out right here and it's trying to regrow those branches into these little suckers.

Now as for the suckers that you saw at the beginning of this video, I can't really tell where there at anymore because, well, yeah, I busted out my mower and I went through and mowed my yard. I mean I can't have that thing looking like trash, I've got to crush my competition around me so, got to stay on top of my lawn game.

So I've got to wait for those to sprout back so I can pinpoint exactly where they're at. Pull them out at the root system and use my Sucker Stopper RTU on it or ready to use spray. This is what I'm going to be using to try and prevent these things from popping up in the yard. I'm not even going to try and pronounce the active ingredient in this product, because I would just fail miserably. But it's most commonly known as NAA, so this is what we're going to use and I'm going to show you how to spray this on the areas where the suckers are sprouting out.

I do have one area where I can most definitely see a sucker sprouting up. That's this little clump right here. Underneath it is a root to my crepe myrtle. Because it keeps getting hit with the mower, every time I go and cut the front yard, this is an area where it's sprouting one of those suckers to get water and nutrients to it. So, in order to get these out, what you've got to do is pull them out by the roots as best as you can. Pull them out the best you can. Like so. And we're going to take our spray, spray the area they use to be.

So right here's another example and another clump. Do my best to pull it out. Freaking suckers are hard. There we go. Got a bit of grass in there. That's okay. Just going to take our spray. Spray that in the little surrounding area, and should be fixed.

Right here's another one. I'm going to try and get all the way down to the root here. Push the grass back a little bit. There's the root. Go in, pull it out. Put our sucker stopper on it.

Check out how gnarly and deep the roots were on the sucker. There is a Bermuda runner in there, so, ignore that. But, just look at this. This is why it was so hard to yank out of there. Look how intertwined and deep it was. Crazy. I know it's one of the suckers from the crepe myrtle because it's got the reddish green leaves coming out on the top and that's what these suckers looked like at the base of the tree here when they were first starting out. So, I know this comes from these guys right here.

Alright so there you go. That's suckers in a nut shell. I'm going to keep my eye on the front yard here and as I see those little suckers, I'll pluck them out and spray them like I just showed you and, yeah! Try to get rid of that little problem here in the front.

Getting up into the high 90s with a bout 1,001 percent humidity today so, I'm going to hurry up and get my hand cannon out and mix up some herbicide, post emergent, and spot spray some weeds I'e got going on in the front.

If you have any other questions on the product I used, links in the description box below so you can go over to Do My Own dot com, read more about that. If you have any other questions on suckers, leave those in the comments section below, email them over to the customer service staff, or pick up the phone, give us a call.

And if you're not already, subscribe to the channel by clicking this button right here, you can click this link to watch the previous episode in the lawn care series and if you want to watch all of the episodes in the lawn care series, click this playlist right here.

And as always, thanks for watching!