Question of the Week: May 9, 2018
“How can I stop all those sprouts that keep coming up around my live oak tree?”
Oh, if only those could be seedlings that we could mow down or pull up! But they are sprouts that come up from the mother plant’s root system.
Put in other words, they are tethered to Mama. That means that you can’t apply any kind of herbicide to kill them because it would be taken immediately back to the mother tree where it would also do harm to it.
The only way to cope with these sprouts is to do so manually. You must remove them physically, either by slicing them out 3 or 4 inches deep with a sharpshooter spade when the soil is moist, or by covering them up with some type of weed-blocking fabric.
Honestly, you’re probably going to have to use a combination of both techniques. You’ll want to slice into the soil to remove the existing ones first. Not just cut them off with an axe – actually slice them several inches into the soil with a sharpshooter spade.
Step 2 then would be to cover the area with a heavy-duty landscaping fabric and cover it with decorative river rock.
Live oaks are grown from wind-pollinated acorns. This is a major flaw with a certain percentage (probably 10-15 percent) of them. Unfortunately, we don’t always know when we buy them. Whether it’s correct or not, my own casual observation has been that this seems to show up more often with live oaks that have smaller leaves and more weeping growth habits.
Buy your tree from a Texas Master Certified Nursery Professional and ask him or her to help with your selection.