Eradicating Invasive Aspens

Asked June 13, 2017, 8:26 PM EDT

We have a large aspen tree previous owners planted too close to our house. It is beginning to stress the foundation and has spawned many other trees in our yard and our neighbor's yard. It seems healthy, but new shoots are aggressively colonizing my yard. I must remove this aspen to save my house, but I also need to ensure I stop the colonization, not exacerbate it. What is the best way to proceed to remove this entire destructive system from my property? Thank you. I appreciate your help.

Boulder County Colorado trees and shrubs

3 Responses

To find the most appropriate individual to answer your question, what county in Colorado do you reside?

Thank you, Ruth. I reside in Boulder County.

i appreciate your help.


Unfortunately there is no easy fix for removing aspen trees, roots and sprouts. Aspen trees have a great ability to sprout profusely from their root systems, thereby producing a whole stand of trees from a single "parent" tree. This is a great survival trait to have and it has allowed aspen trees to recover from forest fires and re-populate large areas quickly. This isn't so great for the homeowner who wants only one or a few aspen trees and a yard with grass.

For an aspen tree I would not bother with girdling the tree because it's an extra step that will not do much to prevent the roots from continuing to have a life of their own. There is really no way to prevent the roots from sprouting all over your yard. It would probably be easiest to cut the tree down, immediately applying a product with triclopyr (brush killer) to the stump. Products with this chemical are available at many garden centers. Then spray with a product containing glyphosate (like Roundup or the equivalent). Wait for several weeks and grind or chop the stump out.

There will no doubt be sprouts fairly soon as the tree attempts to repopulate the area with more trees. You will probably continue to have sprouts for several years and it is best to chop each new sprout out as soon as you see it. This can be done easily with a shovel. Then apply glyphosate to each freshly cut surface as soon as the spout is cut out. Use caution when spraying with or applying glyphosate as it is an herbicide that will kill anything it comes in contact with. If you use a spray, it is advisable to spray early in the morning when there is no breeze, thereby preventing unintended drift.

The larger, more unsightly roots can be cut out or they can be allowed to decompose. Decomposition will take time, of course. If you allow the surface roots to decompose you may see mushrooms from time to time feeding on the decaying wood. There is no chemical to treat them but they can be easily removed with a shovel.

I think your perseverance will pay off after several years.