Tree seedlings are infesting lawns

This spring a prolific crop of maple tree seedlings are sprouting up in lawns across the state.

Tree seedlings infesting a lawn. Photo credit: Kevin Frank, MSU

It's not unusual to see tree seedlings, especially from maple trees, sprouting up in lawns in spring.  However this year maple seedlings seem especially abundant and the high numbers may be due to a heavy seed production (masting) event last fall. Dr. Bert Cregg wrote an excellent article describing this phenomenon last fall.

Many homeowners inquire to Michigan State University Extension about spraying herbicides to eliminate these pesky, diminutive trees, but the best answer to give is to keep mowing.

Although initially the seedlings may exist below your standard mowing height, given time they will grow up into the mowing zone and be eliminated. It’s better for the turf to maintain a consistent mowing height rather than lower the mowing height to try and eliminate the tree seedlings quicker. Hand-pulling is another option, although an option that most are not interested in pursuing. 

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