How To Get Rid Of Tree Sprouts In The Yard From Nearby Trees

A maple seedling sprouting in a lawn
(Image credit: vili45)

It's not unusual to see tree seedlings sprouting up in lawns in spring. Many trees such as female ash, Siberian elm, honeylocust, hawthorn, crabapple, maple, and goldenrain tree are known to seed themselves, and lawns are likely spots for this to happen. While it is not possible to prevent this if you have nearby trees, there are steps you can take to get rid of the tree sprouts in the yard.

Tree Seedlings in Yard

If there are maple trees (Acer spp.) in the vicinity of your lawn, it is almost certain that you will see dozens or maybe even hundreds of young seedlings in the spring. Some years maple seedlings are especially abundant when there is heavy seed production in the fall.

But maples are not alone in this. White mulberry (Morus alba) is a weedy species, and homeowners may see hundreds of young mulberry seedlings in clear lawn areas. Since the birds and small mammals are fond of mulberry and eat them, seeds and all, they assist in spreading the seeds wherever they fly. Every white mulberry seed can grow into a tree up to 50 feet (15 m.) tall.

How to Kill Tree Seedlings in Laws

When you see your lawn full of tree seedlings in spring, your thoughts may turn to pesticides or other toxics. But these are not the best choice. Instead, get out the lawn mower. Proper mowing will take these seedlings out, now or later.

If you want to know how to get rid of oak tree sprouts in lawns, or maple, or any other young tree seed sprouts, the best course of action is simply to continue your regular mowing practice. You have doubtless determined the best height to mow the grass, and now is not the time to change it.

Do not lower the mower to get these sprouts out faster. Just continue your regular mowing schedule and the spouts will, in time, be large enough to be chopped out by the mower. It’s better for the lawn to maintain a consistent mowing height rather than lowering the height to get to these seedlings faster. If you just can’t wait, consider hand pulling. And take measures to thicken the lawn to make it more difficult for tree seedlings to establish. This can include aerating it, fertilizing it and properly watering it.

Trees Sprouting in Lawn

Given all these seedlings in the lawn, it will come as no surprise that some of them grow into young trees before action is taken to remove them. It is more effort to get rid of trees sprouting in lawns than seedlings. Getting rid of seedlings is one issue, but getting rid of tree saplings in lawns is quite another.

Obviously, it is better to pull tree seedlings when they are small, but life doesn’t always work out that way. If the saplings have grown into trees before you had time or energy to act, the best next step is to cut off the tree as close to the ground as possible. This usually kills the tree.

If the tree species forms sprouts from the stump, just trim out the sprouts as they appear. That way, they don’t develop sufficiently to store food reserves in their roots. Sprout formation withdraws energy from the roots, so by removing the sprouts, you will eventually bankrupt the root system and it will die.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.