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Mulberries growing right next to foundation  RSS feed

 
T Holden
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While I love to EAT mulberries, I do not love them to destroy the foundation of the house I just purchased. There are 3 of them right against the foundation and it looks as though someone has been whacking them off at the stump for many years leaving many lateral branches and shoots. Is there any way I can remove these poor things so as to stop any more damage to the foundation? I bought some toxic chemical I am highly reluctant to use, but I can't seem to find any other effective way, so I'll happily take your suggestions.
 
Walter McQuie
Posts: 49
Location: Northern New Mexico
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If I were in your situation I'd whack everything off at ground level, use the woody materiel in some way (hugel beds, brush pile for critters, kindling, chipped for mulch...) and repeat frequently. Mulberry trees will continue to come back while they have enough energy in their root system. If branches and shoots are removed before their leaves can resupply the energy used by resprouting, the system will start a downward spiral. At some point there won't be enough energy to resprout. That's the theory. Seems to work with bindweed.
 
John Elliott
pollinator
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Mulberry grows very vigorously from coppices, so even if you do as Walter says and cut repeatedly, it may not be enough. That's going to be a match between your resolve and the stored energy in the mulberry roots to see which gives out first. And you don't want to give up for a moment, because all the photosynthetic energy from the new sprouts is going to go into making more root mass, doing even more foundation damage.

Mulberry really can't be killed by withholding water. I had one in Las Vegas that I wanted to remove and it didn't need any water other than the 4" of normal rainfall in Las Vegas. I theorize that its roots had found the aquifer under Las Vegas and it will come back indefinitely. What you are going to have to do is deny it light. Get some thick black plastic and some bricks and after you have cut it at ground level, cover the stump (and anywhere else it might try to send up a shoot) with black plastic weighted down with bricks. And then wait it out.
 
Peter Ellis
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Location: Central New Jersey
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If it were me, I would cut them back yet again and then dig, taking out as much of the root system as I could. Use the trimmings elsewhere, maybe even use some to start a couple of new mulberries in better locations. Bury the remaining root system and cover with heavy mulch, black plastic, something to block light.

By cutting back And digging out roots And blocking light you should be able to kill them off for good.

 
Walter McQuie
Posts: 49
Location: Northern New Mexico
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John Elliott wrote:Mulberry grows very vigorously from coppices, so even if you do as Walter says and cut repeatedly, it may not be enough. That's going to be a match between your resolve and the stored energy in the mulberry roots to see which gives out first. And you don't want to give up for a moment, because all the photosynthetic energy from the new sprouts is going to go into making more root mass, doing even more foundation damage.

Mulberry really can't be killed by withholding water. I had one in Las Vegas that I wanted to remove and it didn't need any water other than the 4" of normal rainfall in Las Vegas. I theorize that its roots had found the aquifer under Las Vegas and it will come back indefinitely. What you are going to have to do is deny it light. Get some thick black plastic and some bricks and after you have cut it at ground level, cover the stump (and anywhere else it might try to send up a shoot) with black plastic weighted down with bricks. And then wait it out.


Agreed. I'm hopeful about the can't be killed by withholding water part as I am including it in plans for polyculture wind break/shelter belts here in the high desert. Part of the theory I was proposing to T assumed that when you cut the stump and shoots you will be halting, at least temporarily, new root growth and hopefully causing some dieing of of roots. You certainly want to remove new growth before it spurs another round of root growth. I'd be up for the wrestling match, as the woody material is a valueable, relatively scarce resource around here.
 
Zach Muller
gardener
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Location: NE Oklahoma zone 7a
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I don't know, I think I am with peter on this one. I am sure slow processes of denying light, water, and ability to grow would eventually kill it. (Though some of these trees I could see sending root suckers out.) I am too impatient for that though, especially with my home foundation. When faced with that type of stump mulberry I dig around the root ball like normal when removing a live tree and then take a straight edge shovel and slice down through the roots and trunk that are next to the foundation. I have done this to multiple mulberries and since I take every root I find they have not re sprouted again. Then as a plus you have a nice mulberry rootball that you can replant in a good spot, or make a bonsai with.
 
T Holden
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I'm worried hacking away will just cause them to just make more and more roots. Maybe I will try blocking the light. I do NOT have the patience to wait this out for several years though. My yard is so small, and they take up quite a bit of valuable growing space in what would be zone 1 . They make me feel like throwing a toddler tantrum, lol. I keep trying to figure out how "the problem is my solution" in this case and I cannot. This house is over 100 years old with a stone foundation that is already needing repairs and they need to go yesterday. Thanks for all the insight. I'm ready for battle! lol
 
Al Senner
Posts: 60
Location: southeast SD (zone 4b/5a)
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I dont think withholding light is sufficient. When I bought my house, I had a 4 ft tall mulberry whip growing in the shed. I also had a 4 in. diameter mulberry growing next to the foundation. I cut it twice and lost my patience. I drilled as many half inch holes as I could and filled a few with salt. Worked great.
 
Jill Madigan
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In my friend's Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Zone 5B) back yard, I'm timing-out long-term bigdog manure, hoping to get a delivery of wood chips, and dealing with the aftermath of the demise of a two-bole mulberry.  The female bole died first and the male sent a forest of roots out to blossom all along the wood-topped-brick-block fence base border that protects and creates an excellent southern exposure microclimate.  Someone cut them to around a foot in height and I've stripped the bark and have been removing the suckers from the stumps this year.  I am planning to dig around the double-bole stump in the wettest part of next spring to cut off the roots there and try pulling the satellites out with a Harbor Freight $30 winch, unless someone has a better idea.  The younger stumps might be easier to grab with the height than if they were shortened to ground level.  I want to dig around the main stump to disconnect all the roots I can find, perhaps leaving its corpse, or turning it into two planters at its ~3' height.  I worry that I might be creating a slew of separate trees if I disconnect them too soon.  The salt solution (above) has the disadvantage of leaving the salt behind in the greater part of the yard since the parent tree is located toward the middle of the yard.  Any suggestions?
 
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