Issue 3, May 19, 2014
Dealing with Tree Seedlings in the Lawn and Landscape
The maples are currently on a mission to reforest the Earth. The ash, cherry, and mulberry trees are often on the same mission. For some, birds help spread the seed. For the maples, all that is needed is wind and gravity to blow the samaras to the ground. You've seen them and certainly played with them as a kid – the helicopters or whirlygigs or whatever you called them. This morning I noticed they cover my sidewalks, lawn, and landscape beds. In a few days, there will be baby maples everywhere and much work to be done to reclaim the landscape.
What can you do? I plan to sweep the walk and dispose of the seeds. A leaf blower could be handy for clean-up, if only I had one. Removing the tree last year with one sharp cut at the base would have been effective. There are seedless cultivars available now that would make nice replacements. Another consideration would be to use a registered and labeled growth regulator to reduce or eliminate fruit development.
Once the seedlings germinate in a landscape bed they can be pulled easily by hand. They are best removed after a rain when the soil is moist. Do not cover them with mulch as germination will likely not be prevented. The seeds are relatively large in size and can germinate from deeper depths. In lawns, simply mow them off relatively soon. Do not wait for them to grow several inches. Mowing regularly should take care of the problem. Alternatively, broadleaf herbicides labeled for use on lawns may be used. (Michelle Wiesbrook)