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Killing a tree without chemicals

 
pioneer
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A client asked me to remove a small invasive tree near their house today. Couldn't dig it out so i chopped it to waist height, ring barked it and exposed the wood as low on the stump as possible, hoping some disease will finish it off.
Anyone had experience killing trees without using chemicals?
 
master pollinator
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Just ring bark it: about a foot high. That will kill it.

Just rubbing the bark off one side will eventually kill the tree, but ring barking it will kill the tree within a year.

(This is why on my farm, I have tight logging trails. The "bumper trees" are removed on the way out so that trees with all their bark are left. The bumper trees, which have bark left on all but one side from where pulling out trees have rubbed up against others, eventually will get disease and die. It was one of the reasons I use a log loader trailer to remove logs. Cut to length where the tree is felled, I can pick up the logs and haul them out without scarring other trees up...and my wood does not get dirty dulling the blades on my sawmill).


 
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Keep a close eye on it, some trees will go into defense mode and shoot up suckers from the root system and might take a lot of work to fully get rid of.

I am dealing with this problem where someone must have partially damaged a "tree of heaven" when clearing some land on our property before we bought it. After just a few years there are now nearly 100 trees off the roots ranging from just a foot or so high to 20 ft. or more!




 
Ty Greene
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Here is a pic I took of part of the area, I have since cut them all down and left about 1ft of trunk on each one so I can go back this weekend and skin them/beat them up some more.

The wood is very weak, but they grow quick and are resilient!

I have also watched a vid where after cutting and leaving partial stump, a guy skinned it and then put a small black plastic bag over the top with a zip tie to "smother" it out.

I need to research some more, but I am aware that certain plants put off chemicals to deter other surrounding plants from growing - I believe Japanese honeysuckle does this. I am curious now, as to if someone has concentrated something like that to use in a situation as a natural organic herbicide to apply to an out of control invasive area? That would be something I might consider if so!
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pioneer
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Those are sumac trees I believe.  They spread like crazy.
 
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boiling water, fire and horticultural vinegar make good herbicides

 
pollinator
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Sumac is terrible stuff, don't even try to kill one by cutting it down or you will end up with a forest, I can see one starting by our barn, someone has obviously cut the main tree and now we have 20. luckily the area round it is all mown so they can't get any closer. as to killing the tree you are talking about. it depends on the type, some give up after being cut, others sucker or come back from the stump. We're clearing around an acre of scrap trees on our new place scattered all around in little groups (not a nice acre that could be buldozed) and I just poison the stumps, sycamore and elm come back and back and back I don't have time to spend the next two years cutting it every month or so.
 
gardener
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That is indeed Sumac, the only sure cure is a cable and vehicle to pull out the main root system.
Each of those trunks is a sprout that formed on a main root, if you cut them off, ring bark them or any other method of extermination attempts, they will fail because there will end up many more sprouts.
Cutting the above ground trunks to exhaust the root system also doesn't really work. (ask me how I know, I've been trying to eradicate an acre stand of this tree for 5 years now)

It is my experience that pulling as much of the root structure out of the soil is the only way to gain some control over this sort of "mass reproducing tree".

Redhawk
 
Travis Johnson
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Yep, that is Sumac...Agent Orange would not kill those trees. Rent an excavator!
 
pollinator
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As others have said, it is sumac. I have had some luck containing - not eradicating - it. You need to dig out the main roots. They can run and run. Find where it pops up and trace the root back to the main plant. It will usually be right below the surface.
 
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I've had success against Manitoba maple using pieces of sharpened copper tube hammered into the base of the trunk and roots.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Travis Johnson wrote:Yep, that is Sumac...Agent Orange would not kill those trees. Rent an excavator!



well, actually, it would kill all the soil around it for about 100 years, while in the interim it would cause many cancers to develop.

Love the excavator, wish I could use one but the bed rock is to close to the surface where my sumac trees are. (they make you pay for any broken teeth when you take it back)
The red berries do make a reasonable tea though, so there is one benefit, I just don't want it on my land, it surrounds our area anyway so there isn't a shortage of it for tea making.
The stems are the traditional stem of the pipe, but again I can go wild gather any amount of pipe stem materials I might need.
 
Ty Greene
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Thanks to everyone for the ID of Sumac I noticed a strange smell when messing with them so I assumed it was the tree of heaven, they also have seeds hanging that look like windscattered type and I though that was another indicator...

Guess I'm going to have some fun with this one!

Ben Schiavi do you have a pic of the tree you have an issue with? Maybe an ID will help you determine to what lengths you will need to go??
 
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Ty Greene wrote:Thanks to everyone for the ID of Sumac I noticed a strange smell when messing with them so I assumed it was the tree of heaven, they also have seeds hanging that look like windscattered type and I though that was another indicator...



Be warned: I have received poison ivy-like rashes on my forearms from handling the stuff at work in short sleeves. Don't know if it's just me or that's a common occurrence.
 
M. Phelps
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there are two types of sumac one you can make the tea the other is poisonous

https://bestplants.com/difference-sumac-poison-sumac/
 
Joseph hackett
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Ty Greene wrote:Thanks to everyone for the ID of Sumac I noticed a strange smell when messing with them so I assumed it was the tree of heaven, they also have seeds hanging that look like windscattered type and I though that was another indicator...

Guess I'm going to have some fun with this one!

Ben Schiavi do you have a pic of the tree you have an issue with? Maybe an ID will help you determine to what lengths you will need to go??





Sorry I don't have a photo. The tree itself is not so important, I'm more interested in how to approach the problem in the future. Also I used to work in bush regeneration and quit because of the glyphosate use, so I'd like to know alternatives in general.
 
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I have found that if you just wait a bit you might have better results. If you cut down pretty much any bush or tree in late summer/early fall, just before the sap starts to go down for the winter, the plant won't have enough time to start anew that year, and won't have any sap stored for the next year. Then they die. But the timing is critical. You have to get it just right. No sap down, no new leaves up. If you cut the plant most any other time of year, they will often come back. As for other more herbie plants, like poison ivy, pouring on bleach works pretty good, and doesn't hurt anything long term.
 
gardener
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I completely agree about timing the cutting of trees being a good way to do them in if that's what you want, but I can't imagine pouring bleach into my soil.  I've found that sheet mulching can take out most herbaceous plants, including poison ivy, very easily while also continuing to build the soil.
 
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:That is indeed Sumac, the only sure cure is a cable and vehicle to pull out the main root system.
Each of those trunks is a sprout that formed on a main root, if you cut them off, ring bark them or any other method of extermination attempts, they will fail because there will end up many more sprouts.
Cutting the above ground trunks to exhaust the root system also doesn't really work. (ask me how I know, I've been trying to eradicate an acre stand of this tree for 5 years now)

It is my experience that pulling as much of the root structure out of the soil is the only way to gain some control over this sort of "mass reproducing tree".

Redhawk



I have felled a number of trees using the weight of the tree itself. cut branches on one side leave branches the other side and dig and cut roots on the opposite side. You can also use the truck to pull from the top of the tree. It gives you multiplied leverage than pulling from the roots. When the tree fell most of the roots come off with it.
 
Joseph hackett
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This guy drills holes in the stump and fills with epsom salts. I wonder if excess epsom salts are bad for your soil?

https://deepgreenpermaculture.com/2017/06/11/how-to-kill-a-tree-stump-without-poisonous-chemicals/
 
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Ty Greene wrote:Thanks to everyone for the ID of Sumac I noticed a strange smell when messing with them so I assumed it was the tree of heaven, they also have seeds hanging that look like windscattered type and I though that was another indicator...



that sounds much more like tree of heaven/ailanthus than sumac. smell is kind of in the peanut-butter-smell-family? ailanthus has seeds with a long wing around a central seed, all the sumacs i know have round berry-like seeds.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Ben Schiavi wrote:This guy drills holes in the stump and fills with epsom salts. I wonder if excess epsom salts are bad for your soil?

https://deepgreenpermaculture.com/2017/06/11/how-to-kill-a-tree-stump-without-poisonous-chemicals/



Magnesium sulfate can be overdone and it will shift the mineral and pH balance of the microbiome. Sulfates are really good for adjusting soil pH to the acidic end just as pure sulfur does.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Ty Greene wrote:Thanks to everyone for the ID of Sumac I noticed a strange smell when messing with them so I assumed it was the tree of heaven, they also have seeds hanging that look like windscattered type and I though that was another indicator...

Guess I'm going to have some fun with this one!

Ben Schiavi do you have a pic of the tree you have an issue with? Maybe an ID will help you determine to what lengths you will need to go??



That would be tree of heaven with the odor and seed pods (or hell, depending on your point of view), same removal problems as sumac though.
 
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Dr Redhawk, can you inoculate the base with any fungi like reishi to help clear them? I have heard that Alianthus is actually excellent for mushroom culture, and maybe an aggressive shroom would help...
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Anything is worth a trial Tj, I've never heard of reishi growing on Alianthus but that doesn't mean it won't.

If you do inoculate with a fungus and it takes hold, the roots most likely would not produce any "shoots" because of the certainty of becoming infected with the fungus themselves.

Redhawk
 
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Too much nitrogen will kill any tree.  Simplest and easiest way would be to buy a bag of high N chemical fertilizer and grossly over apply. But that of course is a 'chemical' but not a herbicide.  If you have access to fresh animal manure you could also cover the area in 4 inches of fresh manure and cover with wood chips.  Excess nitrogen from dung will do same as nitrogen from bag.

Better still convince client to let summacs be.  The are a great wildlife tree.  Wild turkeys love the seeds.  You can make lemon aide from seed heads.  My parents have a grove of them in their lawn.  My daughters loved playing in the 'Jungle' when they were little. The tree is short lived (be re sprouts endlessly).  Over the years Dad has cut a least a cord of wood from his summacs as they die off.  I find them an attractive tree that is just trying to recolonize and expand the forest.  

If you plant a fairly fast growing tree in the middle  it will eventually top the summac and shade them out.
 
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My brother-in-law has successfully controlled sumac by cutting them down twice a year for three years as they regrow.   So he's had good luck with using up their energy stores in this manner.  
 
greg mosser
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I have successfully grown oysters in ailanthus logs. They only last a few seasons, much less time than a real hardwood.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Jeff Marchand wrote:Too much nitrogen will kill any tree.  Simplest and easiest way would be to buy a bag of high N chemical fertilizer and grossly over apply. But that of course is a 'chemical' but not a herbicide.  If you have access to fresh animal manure you could also cover the area in 4 inches of fresh manure and cover with wood chips.  Excess nitrogen from dung will do same as nitrogen from bag.



While that might sound like a good method, it will decimate the microorganisms in the soil, so if you use that method, be ready to create dirt out of your soil.

Redhawk
 
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Copper roofing nails spiked into the root sections. Copper will
kill almost everything . I've used and old penny cut in strips and
then spiked african sumacs here in AZ .
 
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Depending on the tree, ringing it can take years to kill it.  Also depending on the tree, ringing it won't keep it from sending up suckers everywhere.

I had a stump from an ancient white maple in my yard once, it was sending up suckers everywhere in like a 75 foot radius of that stump.  The tree had been cut down for almost a decade.

There was a nice big hole in the middle of the stump (the whole stump was like 3' across and 3' high).  After some reading, I dumped a 4lb bag of epsom salt into the center hole, stuck the hose in it and left it running over night.  Within 3 days the stump turned black and it never sent up another shoot again.  1.5-2 years later the neighbor just rolled it out with his backhoe, no problem.
 
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