Aspen Tree Root Removal


Aspen grow throughout the Rocky Mountain region and thrive in light, well-drained mountain soils. Most urban soils aren't appropriate for aspens and even with the best care, few survive more than 25 years in a landscaped setting. The trees are not difficult to cut down, but completely removing the roots is a challenge because aspens spread through hundreds of underground suckers. Cut aspens when they show signs of decline, including a thinning crown and deadwood. Cutting them down will allow new trees to grow in their stead.

Step 1

Cut the aspen tree as close to the ground as possible. Dig a trench around the base of the tree, 3 feet from the trunk and 15 inches deep.

Step 2

Place the shovel under the rootball and place your weight on the shovel handle to slowly rock the rootball back and forth, dislodging it. An aspen tree has hundreds of shoots coming out of it, so you won't entirely dislodge it just by using the shovel.

Step 3

Lift the trunk out of the soil as much as you can, turning it over to expose the roots. Cut through the roots with your shovel or hand pruning shears until you can lift the trunk out of the ground. Aspen trunks are usually less than 12 inches in diameter, so they aren't heavy.

Step 4

Spray the freshly cut trunk and shoots with tricopyr according to package directions.

Step 5

Cut emerging sprouts with hand pruning shears and spray again with triclopyr. Cutting them opens the vascular system of the tree, allowing the chemicals to work more effectively. Continue this process until the tree completely dies.

Tips and Warnings

  • Always wear gloves and protective clothing when applying herbicides. Follow the directions exactly and don't spray the chemical on other plants. Keep out of the reach of children.

Things You'll Need

  • Axe
  • Shovel
  • Hand pruning shears
  • Triclopyr spray (Brush-B-Gone)


  • Colorado State University Extension Office: Aspen Trees
  • Utah State University Extension Office: Dig Deep to Remove Landscape Aspens

Who Can Help

  • National Public Radio: Aspen Trees Die Mysteriously in Rockies
  • Cornell University Department of Horticulture: Recommended Urban Trees
Keywords: removing aspens, removing aspen roots, growing aspen

About this Author

Julie Christensen has been writing professionally since 2001. She is a full-time freelance writer and former teacher with writing credits from several regional and national publications, such as Colorado Parent and LDS Living. She specializes in parenting, education and gardening topics. Christensen studied early childhood education at Ricks College, and spent 20 years as a teacher and director in university and public school settings.