Invasion of cherry laurels

Dallas, TX

My front yard is mostly occupied by a magnificent 70+ year old magnolia tree. About 5 or 6 yrs ago I had some landscaping done which mostly consisted of installing ground covers where there had previously been weeds and bare spots. My mistake is that I requested (and got) Purple winter creeper, but I'm keeping that in check. My landscaper also planted some Ardisia. This spring I got the funny feeling that I no longer had any Ardisia growing but was being invaded by something else. I took a cutting to 3 different locally owned nurseries to ID. (I didn't mention Ardisia or give any clues.) Everyone said that the cuttings were cherry laurels. Ack! I started an 'off with their heads!' attack, but since laurels grow into trees in Dallas, they are still coming back with a vengeance. I'm afraid that their roots might even be forming an underground mass or web that could kill the magnolia.

How can I rid myself of these baby laurel trees without harming my magnolia?

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

Several ways to go depending how much work you want to put in or IF you want to use weed killers,

1. Dig out the tiny saplings as they appear, you can do say an hour at a time, you will be surprised just how much you clear in that time, a bit like weeding between pavers, after an hour you want to go for it even more than before you began the job.

2. Hire / Borrow a weed hacker, either with the cord as a cutting blade or there is metal blades you use instead of the cord, you keep cutting the new growth down and like all plants, when they have no greenery, they cant grow so they give up, that takes longer to rid the area though.

3. Buy a really powerful weed killer that kills what they call brush, things like Brambles, wild ivy ect,
But instead of spraying it and it spreads everywhere if there's a slight breeze.
What you need to do with this powerful stuff is, wear rubber gloves, an old make-up brush that ladies use for face powder, it's nice and soft so wont flick the weed killer all over the place, you paint it onto the leaves, I would SLIGHTLY crush the leaves to allow the killer to be instantly taken into the plants and down to the roots where it will take a few weeks to reach the death-knell of the growing plant. Dont use the killer IF the plants are into winter sleep, so maybe spring is best time when sap with be rising in the plants after there winter hibernation.
Some of the larger growth may require a couple of coatings of killer BUT wait till you feel it has stopped working or not killing, dont keep doing it as it is NOT instant.
The only INSTANT method is, digging plant's out of the ground, it's hard work, tiresome, and just the thought of doing that work fill's you with dread, BUT, it's the easiest way, does less damage and you can enjoy the fruits of your labour.

Hope this helps you get a few ideas to fix the problem.
Best Regards. WeeNel.

Dallas, TX

Thanks, WeeNei. The little boogers are indeed sprouting new leaves. IF I decide to use the 'paint' method, would it be better to lop off their heads again and paint the cut stem rather than the leaves?

I really did an 'off with their heads!' number on them and pulled up as much as I could. It's actually taken them about 6 weeks or more to start reappearing. Haven't really checked out how many are coming back. Right now the ground is so compacted, even tho the area is heavily mulched, that I'm tempted to water and then start pulling the next day.

Maybe I could get someone with a weed hacker to help. I'll have to ask around the neighborhood.

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

IF you remove all the leaves, there will be nothing to wet with the weed killer, it is the leaves of plants that take air, water, sun and nutrients into the plant and the roots take feed, water and air fron the soil, you need the greenery for the killer to work, but by crushing it, the killer will get into the cuts and wounds made from crushing, I once used killer years ago and was told to whack the foliage with a garden cane to crush the foliage and it really did work, I only ever use a killer as the very last resort as I also encourage wildlife so it's dangerous to use killers and have wildlife in the same area, I know there are killers they say dont harm animals or birds, but on the same label it says keep away from children, enough said EH !!!!.
Anyway, good luck hope this helps you out.
Best regards. WeeNel.

Alexandria, VA

Cherry laurels seedlings are extremely easy to pull out of the ground so it should take you long to pull them out and then just a few minutes a week to stay on top of the situation.

Contra Costa County, CA(Zone 9b)

Some weed killers are pretty active when they are painted on the cut stems, so ask, and read the label, and look for more info on line about the active ingredients.

Dallas, TX

I decided that as evil as the invaders are, I can't bear the thought of using any weed killers. If I did anything to hurt my Magnolia, it would break my heart.

But ladysoth, either you are very strong or you are picturing much smaller seedlings. These puppies are big! Luckily, we got some rain this weekend so I'll get outside tomorrow and pull up as many as I can.

Thanks all.

Durhamville, NY(Zone 5b)

What I do with thinks that are really resisting me when pulling is to dig around one side of them some and more or less pull sideways on them. That way you aren't trying to pull all the roots at once. Picture how a tree gets blown over.

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