How to control aspen suckers?

Bend, OR(Zone 4b)

The aspens looked so pretty when we planted them. Little did we know that they would try to take over our entire yard. We even have suckers coming up between the planks of our deck! I heard something about sinking corrugated metal sheeting in the ground around each tree to encourage the roots to go down instead of out. Has anyone tried that - or have any other suggestions?

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

Unfortunately that's the way aspens naturally grow, they form groves by sending up sprouts like that, they're really a better tree for a large property. I'm not sure if there's really an effective way to stop it or not, hopefully someone else will have some ideas for you. Even if the root barriers stop the sprouts, I'd be concerned that they'd have an adverse effect on the health of the tree that's already there because it'll prevent its roots from spreading out like they naturally would.

Bend, OR(Zone 4b)

I was wondering about adverse effects of a root barrier too, ecrane. I've heard rumors of certain aspen vars that do not sucker, but I don't know if that's just wishful thinking. They used to recommend birches as a substitute for aspens, but something has been killing the birches around here for the past few years. Maybe we should have planted mtn ashes instead. MIght be too late to dig them up, though.... A friend of mine dug up the sole aspen tree in their yard to make room for a raised bed. Since then, they have been fighting an army of aspen suckers - a problem they never had before. These aspens really have a strong will to live, don't they?

Bend, OR(Zone 4b)

ok - I've got another question about aspens. There are a few groupings of aspen shoots located where it would be ok for them to stay and establish themselves. Would it be better to select one shoot in each group and remove the rest, or if we leave 3 shoots, will they form a nice multi-trunked tree? Is multi-trunked desirable in an aspen, or is single-trunked better?

Northumberland, United Kingdom(Zone 9a)

Up to you, whichever you think looks nicer.


rhinelander, WI(Zone 4a)

i think an aspen grove in colorado is considered the oldest living thing
because the roots are over 10,000 years old ; if we didn't have beavers
to build a dam every few years we would have a lot more aspens ----
the beavers give us a few open areas in the woodland

Bend, OR(Zone 4b)

Ah - maybe that's what I need - beavers! Perhaps if I build a stream from our irrigation pond, I can attract some. :)

Bureau County, IL(Zone 5a)

SnowlineRose, I don't know if my answer or my experience will help you at all. Back in '84, a lovely older couple moved in next door to us. The man of the house, always told me that the tree he had planted, gotten from the local timber, was a Silver Maple, although I'd never seen a Silver Maple do the suckering that this tree was doing. He simple cut down the suckers by mowing. In '96, the man died and that tree really became a problem. Not just in their yard, but there were suckers in their garage, crawlspace, behind the house and up against and around, the entire foundation. We were still next door and suckers were feet away from our property. They had 6 grown children and the "boys" set about digging up some suckers and taking them back to the momma tree. IMHO, that didn't solve anything. I had begged, for over 12 yr. for the wife to please remove the tree. But because their dad planted it, the adult children would have none of that. They insisted they could control it. We moved in '03. We returned quite often to visit with the woman of the house, the couple was very dear to all of us in our house, the house I shared with my husband and our daughter. Earlier this year, I spoke to the latest people who have bought our old home. The trees suckers are now in our old yard and they don't know what to do. Our old neighbor woman was now in a nursing home and it was apparent that she couldn't come back to her home again. I approached a few of the adult children once again, because that lone tree is really taking over. Not just their moms house, but the neighbors also (both sides and behind). I was told to contact a guy I know that owns a tree removal company for an estimate. When he met me at her house, to say he was shocked at what he saw, the suckers that he saw, how far and wide they had spread, is putting it mildly. He wanted me or one of her grown children, to go down into the crawl space and look around. He was sure that suckers would be there. I left that for them to do. He gave me an estimate, I passed it on and was told to remove it. I had him do so, this was in early July. He treated the stump with Tordon RTU. My husband and I are in a continuing process of removing invasive flora from my parents timber, so I was also able to use Tordon RTU that my dad had bought for his acreage. I cut off and sprayed Tordon RTU on a lot of the suckers I saw under her deck and around the foundation. I also tried my best to remove suckers and treat them at our old house. About 3 weeks to a month ago, there are new suckers far away from the original tree, and most, if not all the suckers, I have since learned, are self supporting suckers. Our dear friend passed away Sept. 9th. I don't know what those adult children will do now. My guess in nothing and try to sell the house AS IS.

The tree is beautiful in the timber, but at ones home, unless they have acres and acres, it's not the right tree.

Bend, OR(Zone 4b)

terryr - wow - what a monster tree story - and not over yet for your old neighborhood. And my condolences on the loss of your dear friend.
We also have what I think is a silver maple (it's huge and came with the house - right next to the house, in fact). It does not appear to sucker at all, thank goodness. How well did the Tordon RTU work? I can see how these aspens can take over and march on until some natural barrier stops them. I'm going to check with our extension service to see if aspens have an "invasive" status in our area. My guess is that they thrive in the irrigated sections, but maybe they don't get far once they try to move into the surrounding high desert.

Holland, OH(Zone 5b)

Silver Maples don't sucker, thank goodness, but they do have a shallow vigorous root system that is notorious for causing it's own set of problems. Check your foundation footers regularly in the area of the tree because they can crack the foundation. Sidewalks, driveways, septic systems, tiled sewer lines and other ungerdound utilities are also at serious risk from Silver Maple roots.

Bureau County, IL(Zone 5a)

Thank you Snowline. As for that tree, it was a "thorn" in my side, that's for sure. The Tordon RTU appears to have worked well in my dads timber, it's still in the air as far as that Aspen is concerned. I don't believe that an Aspen is considered to be an invasive plant in any part of the country, but it is always a good idea to check with your extension service.

After our experience having that Aspen next door, you can imagine my horror at discovering this tall thin tree in our "new" side yard. We closed on this house in winter of '04 (lived a mere 17 months in TN), so I had noticed that thin tree, but didn't pay much attention to it. This house is now 112 yrs. old, and it needed a lot of work on the interior. In IL, in Dec. there's not much to do gardening wise anyway. I went to work on the inside of the house. In the spring of '05, when the tree leaved out, I knew what that dang thing was. After confirming my fears, it received a chain saw hair cut. I wanted to do it, my husband wouldn't let me though☺ Of course that was nothing when compared to discovering an Ailanthus (tree of heaven) and a wonderful purple loosestrife, planted here, in this yard. sigh.

snapple is correct about the Silver Maple tree roots. The roots are shallow, as they are in an Aspen.

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