How do I handle the incursion of my neighbor's sumac bush on my plantings?

Asked August 27, 2014, 8:17 PM EDT

My neighbor planted a sumac bush on the other side of a fence between our yards. On my side of the fence I have a trellis with a lovely honeysuckle vine on it plus a nice flower bed. The sumac is taller than the 6-foot fence now, and I am finding suckers under the trellis and a few around the area. I can't use Roundup without killing my plants, etc. What do you suggest?

Dakota County Minnesota

3 Responses

This is a dilemma that faces any owner or neighbor of sumac. These plants will sucker, and there is nothing one can do about it except remove the suckers. You may be able to trench the property line and sink a solid barrier (like sheet metal) down at least 12 inches, but I've got a sumac that has gone deeper than that to send out new plants. Unfortunately, cutting the suckers off seems to encourage even more sucker growth from the parent plant.

One of the main problems with using glyphosphate on the suckers is that the herbicide will translocate back to the parent plant and stunt or kill it.

I'm not sure what your relationship with your neighbor is but you could ask him to relocate this plant to an area further away from your vine.

Please contact AaE again if you have further questions.

I'm not sure if you received my second question. Another trip to the yard to look for more shoots and there are several more coming up. If we put a drop of glyphosphate on a leaf on each sucker will that affect my vine? The barrier method sounds like a good option too. I'm thinking the neighbor must be finding suckers also and she has several sumac bushes in her yard that she planted. Hmmm! Thanks for your help.

Hi - no I never got a second message from you, but...your honeysuckle won't be affected by the glyphosphate that you apply to the sumac suckers. The sumac "mother" plant may become affected - it may start to die back.

And I'd be surprised if your neighbor did not have new sumac plants popping up in their yard - but if they are coming up in the lawn, it's easy to mow them down and never have much of a problem. In fact, as one of the publications I'd sent mentioned, simply cutting back, or cutting out the suckers simply encourages the sumac to send even more runners out.

If your neighbor is not willing to relocate this plant it will continue to be a problem in your yard.