Bradford Pears Must Die

July 9, 2008 | By | Comments (8)

Q: I recently had four 15-year-old Bradford pear trees removed from my front lawn because they were encroaching on the utility lines and I had already had two to die. Prior to having them removed, one tree had sprouts all in the lawn around the tree. Since I’ve had the other trees removed, they are also beginning to sprout everywhere. I have not had the stumps removed yet. I put rock salt on the stumps immediately after having the trees removed, but this doesn’t seem to have helped. How can I stop this unsightly, annoying problem and not kill all the grass or dig up my lawn?

Thanks,
J Masisak
Middle Georgia

A: First, let me congratulate you on the decision to cut down your Bradford pears. If it were up to me, all homeowners in America would be armed with chain saws and sent out to hunt for these abominations. But, as you have discovered, just cutting them down isn’t enough to kill them. The rootstock, which has more lives than Regis Philbin, sprouts wherever roots have been cut. Rock salt is not a good solution. Here’s what to do.

1. Make a fresh cut atop every stump until you see live wood. Then paint the surface according to label directions with a herbicide called triclopyr. You’ll find this in products called Brush Killer and Brush-B-Gon.

2. If you have suckers sprouting from the roots, let them grow until they’re a couple of feet high. Then mix up a solution of triclopyr according to label directions, fill an empty milk jug with it, cut the tip off of a sprout, and push the sprout through the jug’s spout into the solution. Let it sit in place for 48 hours. The chemical will be drawn down to the roots and kill them.

Good hunting,
Grumpy

COMMENTS

  1. Sandra Johnson

    I have Annabelle hydrangeas growing on the east side of the house, and they are beautiful this year. However, someone has beem picking the flowers. Right now, I have a “No Trespassing” sign in the flower bed, which seems mean spirited. What do you suggest?

    July 19, 2008 at 10:13 am
  2. Grumpy

    How about “Hydrangeas Under Surveillance by Predator Drones”?

    July 21, 2008 at 8:04 am
  3. Greg

    I have had this problem for a few years and now these things have taken over my front lawn near the street and have even crossed the sidewalk. I need to find a better solution than attacking them one at a time…there are about 150 sprouting up. Some are so thick that it would be like stepping on nails without shoes. I agree these trees are trash!

    July 17, 2010 at 10:06 pm
  4. Grumpy Gardener (His Benevolence)

    Greg,
    Try spraying the sprouts right now with with Roundup or Brush-B-Gon mixed according to label directions. You’ll probably have to do this again in another couple of weeks. Be sure you don’t spray anything you don’t want to kill.

    July 18, 2010 at 11:06 am
  5. rimma

    i just had two Bradford pear trees cut because they broke and now i will have stump and huge roots ( THEY ALL OVER THE FRONT LAWN) REMOVED. DO I NEED TO DO ANYTHING ELSE TO PREVENT THE REGENERATION PROBLEM . WE WILL TRY TO DIG OUT THE STUMPS AND ALL THE ROOTS , BUT I AM SURE SOME ROOTS WILL BE LEFT BEHIND.DO I NEED TO SPRAY IN ADDITION TO DIGGING.

    November 3, 2011 at 4:07 pm
  6. Grumpy Gardener (His Benevolence)

    As long as some live roots remain in the ground, you will get suckers. To kill both suckers and roots, apply Brush Killer according to label directions. Here’s a link: http://www.google.com/products/catalog?q=brush+killer+stump+killer&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=shop&cid=14662826787233387858&sa=X&ei=y-GzTsNVye_SAb2iza8E&ved=0CDwQ8wIwAA. Good luck!

    November 4, 2011 at 9:02 am
  7. Judy W

    I have only one Bradford Pear tree, and it has mistletoe, and it has had it for many years. It is really beginning to look like it might die. I have thought about having it cut down. I had wondered if it was a good idea for new sprouts to develop, if it could, but you aren’t very complimentary of this type of tree. Several years ago I had a Crepe Myrtle cut down, and I had sprouts all over the place. I finally used a type of Round Up for Poison Ivy and heavy roots. Finally this spring I can say I am rid of the Crepe Myrtle, but it took about 5 years since I didn’t know it could develop so many sprouts.

    April 25, 2012 at 6:02 pm
  8. Grumpy Gardener (His Benevolence)

    Judy,
    I would cut down the tree and grind down the stump. Don’t plant another Bradford. Plant something better, like a dogwood, flowering cherry, flowering magnolia, or a maple.

    April 30, 2012 at 7:23 am