How To Kill Oak Tree Sprouts?

How To Kill Oak Tree Sprouts

Sprouts or suckers not only affect the growth of the mother oak tree but also damage the nearby vegetation. And they affect your garden or lawn health too. So, instead of nurturing these sprouts, dispose of them. But you may ask, “How to kill oak tree sprouts?”

How To Kill Oak Tree Sprouts

Mowing the lawns or grass regularly will kill graft-leveled sprouts or acorns. And for the upper sprouts removal, pruning or chopping is ideal. However, different kinds of suckers require different tactics to prevent them. And for your convenience, I will discuss all those processes right here.

Step-by-Step Process on How to Kill Oak Tree Sprouts

Handling the sprouts requires extra attention so that their removal does not affect the growth of the mother oak tree. Considering that, I have listed down the removal process with some tips:

Step 1: Determine the Sprouts Type

Figuring out the sprouting type is a must, as different sprouts or suckers require different methods to remove them. The acorns or the nuts that drop from the tree can grow acorn sprouts or seedlings in the garden and within the grass.

Anducker sprouts develop from the stump or root or lower trunk level. Last but not least, check the branches for shoots.

How To Kill Oak Tree Sprouts

Step 2: Mow and Pull the Acorn Sprouts

If the acorns are at grass level, mow the lawn yard once a week. They will sprout again after a few initial mowings. But after multiple trimmings, the acorn shoots will have no energy to thrive. 

How To Kill Oak Tree Sprouts

For the oak sprouts in flower beds or soil, water the soil around the seedlings one day prior to pulling out these young plants. Then, wear gardening gloves and pull out the shoots with a shovel or hands.

Make sure to remove as much root as possible with the acorn seedlings. Continue this step until you remove all of the shoots from the yard. Then, dispose of them and avoid adding the sprouts to the compost. Otherwise, they regain the energy to grow.

Step 3: Chop the Lower Trunk Sprouts

With a pair of clean shears, chop off or cut the oak tree sprouting from the trunk below the graft union. Ensure to make cuts as close to the trunk as possible. It reduces the energy of the shoots to grow the seedlings.

How To Kill Oak Tree Sprouts

Or you can break or tear out the sprouts. But be gentle while doing that so that the oak tree remains unbothered. 

Step 4: Apply Herbicide 

Applying growth regulators or herbicides such as amitrole, dicamba, and picloram blocks the growth of the water sprouts or shoots that grow from the branches.

Before spraying chemical solutions, go through the product label to take safety measures for you, the oak tree, and the nearby vegetation. 

How To Kill Oak Tree Sprouts

After mixing the liquid properly, make a few cuts in the top of the trunk and saplings. Then with a state-licensed applicator spray the solution into the cuts. Also, you can drill holes in the stump and pour the mix into the drills.

Once the solution transfers to the suckers or sprouts, eventually they die.  Try to create the drills with a gap of inches in between them.

What Causes Oak Sprouts to Grow?

Apart from the acorn sprouts, the other shoots or sprouts grow from the stump or branches due to internal tree systems or environmental factors.

Here are the two main reasons behind this growing number of unwanted guests –

1. Stress

Due to over-moist or dry soil, the oak roots do not get enough air and nutrients. And this stress of the soil can damage the root systems. As a result, the lower trunk starts sprouting. 

While pruning the branches or sprouts with thick skin or bark, the shears can crack or wound the branches or the trunk. In response to the injury stress, the mother trunk tends to grow water sprouts on top of the tree. 

How To Kill Oak Tree Sprouts

If your oak tree sprouts continuously, it is a sign of age stress. The aged trees promote sprout growth more than the young ones. 

Also, pest infestation blocks the roots from transferring enough nutrients to the top. Oak trees deprived of minerals and nutrients divert the resources to sprouts. So, you need to regularly apply pesticides or insecticides to prevent insect attacks. However, make sure to use organic products. Otherwise, regular chemicals can trigger decay symptoms in the oak tree.

2. Graft

If you have bought the oak tree saplings from the nursery, it is more likely to have a base or graft. To provide hardiness, the branches and trunk of the oak species are placed over grafts or the roots of another species. 

How To Kill Oak Tree Sprouts

When the graft fails or gets damaged, they start sending out sprouts to the mother tree trunk. If the color of the seedling is different than the oak tree, it means these sprouts are the result of failed grafts. Watch the video for more insights into grafts:

Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q’s):

Is It Safe to Chop Off Sprouts?

Yes, as long as you prune the young sprouts, their removal will not affect the tree. Otherwise, pruning thick sprouts can create wounds to the trunk. 

Will the Growth Regulator Kill the Oak Tree?

If you apply the herbicide or growth regulator as per the manufacturer’s guidelines, they will not prevent the oak growth. But too many chemicals can kill the tree. 

How to Prevent Oak Trees from Sprouting?

Regular pruning and keeping the soil nutrient-enriched will prevent sprout growth. Also, discarding the dropped acorns early will work.


As someone who wants to keep the yard clean and fresh, you are not at fault for wanting to kill the baby sprouts. The oak tree sprouts have the energy to grow in abundance, killing the beauty of your garden. And I hope the guide on how to kill oak tree sprouts can help you out with removing the suckers. 

Note that if any plant nearby the oak sprouts is vulnerable to chemicals, avoid using herbicides. Instead, apply vinegar to the sprouts. 

Md Biajid

Meet Mia Biajid, a passionate nature lover. Particularly, he has a deep-rooted connection to the plant. Mia loves to spend time exploring forests and uncovering the secrets held within trees. He always inspires others to appreciate and protect our precious part of the ecosystem.

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