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Our neighbors had a Pepperidge tree cut down and now there are seedlings coming up everywhere in their lawn and ours! We keep trying to dig them up but the roots are enormous!!! We are past customers of yours and hope you can give us advice. Our river heritage birch you planted here is gorgeous!! Thanks in advance for your time. Cheryl


Pepperidge Tree Dear Cheryl,
Unfortunately, Pepperidge trees (also known as Black Gum trees) send up a lot of sprouts when the mother tree is cut down.

I recommend painting, with a sponge brush, straight white vinegar or a super saturated salt solution onto the freshly cut stems of the sprouts in the FALL ONLY when the tree is naturally pulling its carbohydrates (sugars), in liquid form, down from the leaves to the roots to prepare for winter. Painting in the spring and summer will have no effect. The end of September to the end of October is a good time to do this.

Alternatively, you could continue to cut the sprouts (without painting them) which would help weaken the remaining root system. Cut the sprouts to below ground level as soon as you see them. Don't allow them to get big because as soon as the stem emerges above ground, the cells in the stem and the leaves start photosynthesizing and transporting more carbohydrates (sugars) to the roots (keeping the roots alive).

The painting approach will be quicker, but either of these approaches will take years until the stored food reserves in the underground roots are depleted. This is not an overnight fix or even a one season fix. The overall object is to deplete the stored food reserves in the roots system by removing new growth (sprouts) after it draws upon the stored food but before it begins to return food to the roots.

Good Luck. Be patient. It will work.

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About Linda Lillie

Linda K. Lillie is the President of Sprigs & Twigs, Inc, the premier landscape design and maintenance, tree care, lawn care, stonework, and carpentry service provider in southeastern Connecticut since 1997. She is a graduate of Connecticut College in Botany, a Connecticut Master Gardener and a national award winning landscape designer for her landscape design and landscape installation work.


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