Tips for removing problematic trees
A professional tree service can safely remove trees and stumps from home landscapes. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Amy S.)
by Angie Hicks
Dear Angie: We have a tree that grows right next to the house, and I believe the roots have grown under the moisture-barrier of the foundation. We have tried cutting it down, but it keeps growing back.
We need to kill all the roots and would prefer not to use extremely toxic chemicals, in case we want to plant something else in the area. Any suggestions?
– Donna K., Birmingham, Ala.
Dear Donna: There are a few ways you can permanently get rid of the tree. If you want to avoid chemicals all together, then it’s important to remove all new leaf growth as it occurs. Leaves help supply the nutrients needed for trees to thrive through a process called photosynthesis.
By removing new leaves, you are actually inhibiting the needed carbohydrates from reaching the cells of the roots, so the tree itself dies. This is the most natural way, but it is also a long-term effort and will require much work on your part.
You could also hire a tree removal professional to grind down the stump. Done effectively, this should destroy the trees roots and prevent them from resprouting.
As you mentioned, you can also use chemicals to kill the tree. You should first cut the tree down – or cut it down again – and then paint the stump with glyphosate, the active ingredient found in many weed killers.
It’s important to follow the product instructions if you choose this route, as the product will need to be diluted based on the product recommendations. This product should degrade quickly and show no residual effect to the fertility of the ground.
Homeowners in Alabama are allowed to make such a chemical application, but if someone else makes the application, that person needs to be licensed to do so. In Alabama, the Department of Agriculture & Industries requires a license in Ornamental and Turf Pest Control, as well as a Professional Services Permit.
If you hire a professional, in addition to state licensing, look for a specialist who is a Certified Arborist through the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). This will help ensure that you are effectively addressing the problematic tree and that the treatment is safe to other plants, animals and children.
Angie's List collects about 40,000 consumer reports each month covering more than 350 categories of home-related services. Angie Hicks compiles the best advice from the most highly rated service pros on Angie’s List to answer your questions. Ask Angie your question at firstname.lastname@example.org.