Look sharp to save hedges and shrub beds
Woody weeds insinuate themselves in hedges and shrub beds.
In winter the culprits are very apparent when they're deciduous
within evergreen hedges (right). You can also tell one
deciduous plant from another by differences in buds, bark
color, branching and height.
Roust the interlopers before budbreak so the rightful occupants will have
full sun during spring.
It's probably not possible to completely remove these weeds in
one go, since to dig their roots could do serious damage to
desirable plants. Instead, cut the offenders at ground level, mark
the stumps and keep coming back every two or three weeks to cut off
any shoots they produce throughout the year. Over a season or two
even the most entrenched weed tree will run out of starch if it's
cut every time it makes a comeback.
Alternatively, you can cut the weed trees, then slow their new
growth or kill them outright with a systemic herbicide. Use a small
paint brush to dab the freshly cut surface of the stump with a
brush killer such as Brush-B-Gon®. (Use it with care, in
concentrated form; more detail about this and also some
non-chemical killing tactics in Growing
Concerns Issue 763).
You missed it during the past two growing seasons, since it
first poked its head above the cranberrybush viburnums, but this
elm tree (the chimney points to it!) should grab your eye now when
its bark color and branching say "I'm different." Go cut it
out before budbreak!
Make no mistake, these weed trees and shrubs are killers.
Once they're tall enough to cast shade on the bed's rightful
residents, the killing progresses quickly. Notice that the
cranberrybush viburnums nearest this interloping box elder (in
its third year above the viburnums) are shorter and have less
fruit. Those are just the preliminary consequences of increasing