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<Laura>
posted
A friend removed some sassafras where he cut out a place and built a house. the front bank of the yard he is trying to get something to grow to prevent erosion but the sassafras roots will not let anything else grow there. Any ideas on how to get rid of the remaining roots so he can landscape this without adding a retaining wall and rocks? Thanks
 
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<Russ Carlson>
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Reply to post by Laura, on August 09, 2001 at 19:15:56:

I'm not aware of any allelopathic effect (chemical growth inhibitor) by sassafras. I assume you mean that the root mat is dense and hard to dig through. Sassafras is also a prolific sprouter, so the roots will live on for some time and continue to put out new sprouts.

To kill the roots, let some of the sprouts grow up a few months. Cut them off during the growing season, and 'paint' each cut with Roundup. The herbicide will move through the roots, killing them. Note that this is NOT guaranteed to kill all the roots. Some may escape the treatment, although it should get most of them.

The only other suggestion I have is to physically dig up the area with a machine (backhoe, etc.).
 
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<Mark Goodwin>
posted
Reply to post by Laura, on August 09, 2001 at 19:15:56:

The link I've included tells about rooting habits and allelopathy and shade intolerance in Sassafras.

It may be possible to shade the sprouts into submission, over time. I would be wary of landscaping with plants that may be suppressed by Sassafras, especially annual herbs. The problem with root digging is that even small roots may regenerate, if left in the ground. However, if enough roots are taken out, and vigorous plants compete and shade the Sassafras, then you might succede by keeping any remaining sprouts clipped down. Sassafras is supposed to be intolerant of shade. Also, I think it would be necessary to remove any nearby Sassafras tree that could be the source of roots in the area. Loss of densely shading over-story trees would be counter-productive to shading out the Sassafras, yet might be necessary for sun-loving landscape plants. I would look to minimize conflict between these elements.
 
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