Ailanthus abatement

Old 10-14-00, 02:22 AM
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I am not a fan of the Ailanthus / Tree-of-Heaven. I have a couple in my yard I'd like a pro to cut down but the suckers also spring up all over the place. Anyone have any suggestions for getting rid of these once and for all. Also in another area I have problems with suckers coming up in my lawn from a neighbors trees. If I landscape is there a barrier I can put down to keep the neighbors trees from having suckers come up in my yard.

A while ago, I became frustrated with a couple small trees growing out of a small retaining wall that kept coming back to life after being cut down. So I bored some 1/2 in holes in the stumps and filled them with a concentrated herbecide; 10 ft away, another tree all but died. I don't imagine this is the proper way to get rid of these trees. If the trees didn't come up all over the place, I would not mind having a couple in my yard. But it really bothers me when they come up through retaining walls, small cracks in the side walk and next to foundations. I'd really appreciate any ideas.

Phil H.
Old 10-14-00, 08:17 AM
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This is going to be a "little" long but please bear with me. You have a liability situation with your neighbor's trees.

The movie "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn" is this tree's only claim to fame. Otherwise, it is a weed tree. It not only suckers profusely and self-seeds but it's roots raise havoc with sewer lines, drain lines, and septic systems. I know of no way to live side by side with this tree. It is agressive and not suited to the home landscape.

Contact your local County Extension Service for advice on best way to eliminate any residual growth from left over roots after the trees are removed.

The Extension Service is listed in the phone book government pages under county. The listing usually begins with the initials of your state's land grant college/university. Someone there will be able to advise you on best method/product to use. This is a government agency already paid for by your tax dollars. There is no additional fee for their assistance. These people are good and very helpful.

The suckers are coming up from underground roots growing from existing trees. When you used the herbicide on the suckers it went down into those roots and traveled back to the original tree they came from. This is why when you herbicide treated the stumps in the retaining wall it affected the tree 10' away. Look at it as an underground network of roots with suckers coming up from roots from the "parent" tree.

Do check with the Extension Service. The way I would do it is my own approach so it would be of value to you to check with them. They may have a better way. Also check with a local tree service.

I would have a tree service take down all existing Ailanthus trees and grind out the stumps. Treat all existing suckers with an herbicide listed to kill these. This will migrate through the plant cells down into the remaining roots to kill the roots also.

Do not mix an herbicide stronger than recommended on label. Follow all label cautions and instructions. Don't want to take out anything valuable - just the Ailanthus. Treat/remove all new suckers. Re-treat when necessary. This will wear out any live roots remaining underground by denying them nutrients supplied by leafy growth.

Now for the "liability" part. Unfortunately your neighbor's tree roots are also under your property. Any herbicide use on the "wrong sucker" can travel back through the roots and kill your neighbor's tree. You are liable for anything you do that kills or damages your neighbor's tree.

How well do you know your neighbor? Do they feel the same way you do so they would be willing to eliminate their trees as well? Are their trees Ailanthus? Are they having any trouble with roots in their drain lines?

As for a barrier it will be spendy to attempt it and a lot of work. The only way I know of would be to dig a trench approx. 3' down and install a barrier of concrete or galvanized steel. Any openings in the barrier and the roots can get through. In addition, the act of digging the trench can damage roots of existing good landscape plants on your side of the property AND your neighbor's side.

I would talk to your neighbor if possible. See if they feel as you do. To some people any tree, even a weed tree, is valuable but perhaps if they are in agreement with you the two of you can go together and deal with all of the Ailanthus trees on your side and in the neighbor's yard. Then both of you can take a trip to the nursery and select some quality, well-behaved trees to put in their place. See if you can make it a joint neighbor project so everyone will be happy.

If they do not join you in this then have the trees on your side taken down and the stumps ground out. I would "NOT" use an herbicide for liability reasons. Hand dig out all suckers so you aren't taking a chance on killing/damaging your neighbor's trees. This is a process you will have to repeat and keep on top of any suckers that rear their ugly heads. The smaller they are when you catch them the easier they are to dispatch.

Good luck - Ladybug
Old 10-14-00, 07:33 PM
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Thanks Ladybug,

A quick look in my phonebook didn't have any extension service listed; I'll look harder and if I still can't find anything, they list a county agricultural commision who might beable to point me in the right direction (Los Angeles County).

The neighbor with trees next to the property line rents. He's not to fond of the trees; but, I get the impression his landlord is fond of them. Before I proceed, I guess I should meet the property owner. Those trees have been pushing over a common chain link fence so I may have bargaining chips in my favour. I am tired of digging the suckers from those trees out of my front lawn.

The trees I want a pro to remove are 6" to 8" diameter. I'd do it myself except they are about 25' tall and are growing in a 5' wide space between my garage and a different neighbors fence. That neighbor hates the trees. I want a pro to come out and trim some 40'tall eucalyptis trees and figure taking out the Ailanthus wouldn't cost a hole lot more. They are in mostly large rocks and a stone retaining wall, so a stumpgrinder may not be an option.

Thank you for your long answer. Sorry for this lengthy reply. By the way, I may be a little lucky. During the past year and a half here I haven't seen any fruit (samaras?)so they appear to all be male trees.

Phil H

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