aspen tree root removal...what is safe for pets such as roundup ?

Asked October 27, 2015, 12:28 PM EDT

safe root removal system ?

Spokane County Washington

1 Response

Thank you for contacting us!

It sounds like the aspen tree is already dead and you are just wanting to remove the roots, so that's where I will focus.

If you are trying to preserve the tree, and just control the suckers, that is a very different process. Keep in mind that any chemical treatment applied to the roots of a plant, can affect the canopy. Do not apply an herbicde to a tree you want to preserve.

I can give you some general information about controlling the roots and suckers of aspen, but to be more specific I'd have to know more. For instance are the roots in a lawn, or around other desirable plants? Is the area of application near surface water, like a pond or stream? Are your pets prone to chewing on plants? For more information, please call the Spokane County Extension office at 477-2181 or email You can give us the answers to those questions, and then maybe we can give you more specific information.
You have a concern about the pet safety of different controls, and probably the most pet safe answer would be to grind the stump and dig out as many of the larger roots of the tree as you can find. Unfortunately, this is also the most labor intensive control, and may not be possible if the tree is in a lawn, or other sensitive area.

There are chemical controls that may be applied to kill the suckers. If they are growing out of a lawn, you want to avoid a non-selective herbicide like glyphosate or Roundup, because it will kill all the plants it contacts. If the roots and suckers are in an area away from other plants, this may be an okay choice.

As to the question of pet safety, the most important thing to do is to read and follow the label instructions. Look for a section on the label about domestic animals, as this will tell you about the safety of the product and how toxic it may be to your pets.

Keep your animals out of the area of application, so they don't come in contact with the product. You don't want them getting it on their fur and then carrying it to other areas. You also want to keep them from chewing on any of the plants in the affected area, so if there is a way to fence off the location, do so.

Pesticides labels also have a toll-free number that you can call for more information about the safe use of the product. If you have already purchased an herbicide and want to know more, call that number

Please feel free to contact the Spokane County Master Gardeners for more specific information. I hope this helps get you started in the right direction.