Re: Need help controlling suckers from poplar/cottonwood trees
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If you want to avoid chemicals, your choices are limited. You will need to either cover the stump with light blocking black fabric or have it ground. Then you can either continue to break off the suckers as soon as you see them (if you are diligent about this it probably won’t take longer than one season, maybe two) or you can put down black plastic (probably not possible in the flower beds) or maybe thick landscape fabric. Without a source of glucose, the roots will not be able to continue to send up new shoots and will eventually die.
Alternatively there are chemicals that can be painted or sprayed onto the cambium of the stump (or exposed roots). These are most effective when applied within an hour of cutting down the tree.