What Is Cut Stump Treatment?

Cut stump treatment is one of the most effective ways of controlling the growth of invasive woody plant species. Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about cut stump treatment and how to perform it correctly.

Cut stump treatment involves painting or spraying a freshly cut stump with herbicide. For example, glyphosate, Trdon or triclopyr can be used, This method is ideal for controlling the growth of woody plants with a trunk diameter of more than 1 inch.

What is Cut Stump Treatment?

Cut stump treatment involves applying a systemic herbicide solution to a freshly cut tree stump. The herbicide will be absorbed by the cambium layer of the remaining part of the plant, and transported throughout the vascular system.

The method is usually used on invasive plant species. Invasive species have the ability to regrow after cutting the plant down. Using herbicides for the surface treatment will disturb the remaining ecosystem within the plant, effectively killing it.

When is Cut Surface Treatment Most Useful?

This method is ideal for treating a small number of trees that are surrounded by desired vegetation. This is because the cut stump method is very selective and does not cause damage to the surrounding vegetation.

What Size Plants And Trees Are Most Suitable For Cut Stump Treatment?

Cut stump treatment can be used on almost any woody plant, shrub, vine, or tree. If the diameter of a stem is less than 1-0.5 inches then this method should be avoided. For small trees, a foliar spray technique or basal bark treatment should be used.

Which is the Best Season to Use Cut Stump Treatment?

Cut stump treatment can be used all year round. The only season which should be avoided is early spring. In the spring, the sap flows upwards, away from the roots of the plant. Performing the method during spring when the nutrients start flowing to the foliage will minimize the effectiveness of the treatment.

From a convenience standpoint, the beginning of the winter season is ideal. The temperature in the autumn is cooler, herbaceous vegetation is at a low, and pests and insects are also less active.

This method should be avoided if there are chances of rain later in the day of treatment. Water can wash away the herbicide which will render them ineffective.

What Equipment Will You Need?

There are two stages to cut stump treatment, cutting the tree down and application of herbicide.

For cutting larger trees, a chainsaw, an electrical chainsaw, or an ax is necessary. An ax, a hand saw, or pruning shears can be used when dealing with smaller trees.

For applying the herbicides, a portable or a backpack sprayer or a paintbrush can be used.

What Should be the Stump’s Height After Cutting?

The trees or plants should be cut down as low as possible before treatment. 1-2 inches would be the ideal height.

How Long After Cutting Do You Need to Apply the Herbicide?

You should apply the herbicides as soon as possible after cutting, within 15 minutes. Applying the herbicides later, once the stump has dried out will reduce its effectiveness or make it completely ineffective.

Which Herbicides Should You Use For Cut Stump Treatment?

The ideal herbicides to use with cut stump treatment should have either glyphosate or triclopyr. 2,4-D, Dicamba, and Picloram are also effective, but they should be avoided due to possible damage to the surrounding vegetation.

Triclopyr is really effective with Alder, Ash, Cottonwood, Elm, Locust, Oak, Maple, and Willow and is mildly effective with Russian Olives. Glyphosate works well on Alder, Ash, Cottonwood, Elm, and Russian Olive and is only mildly effective with Locust, Oak, Maple, and Willow.

Glyphosate products with less than 20% concentration should not be used as they won’t be as effective. Products with a 20% concentration can be used but should not be further diluted. Products with concentration levels above 40% should be mixed in a 1:1 ratio with water to get a 50% v/v solution.

With triclopyr products, you shouldn’t use them with less than 8% concentration and they should not be diluted further if the solution is already 8%.

How To Apply The Herbicides to the Stump?

You can either spray or paint the top of the stump with the herbicide immediately after cutting the plant down.

Backpack and portable sprayers are most commonly used in case you have to treat multiple stumps but a paintbrush will be enough.

The most important area of the stump that needs to be treated is a few inches wide area right behind the bark. That’s the area where the cambium and xylem layers are located. Cambium and xylem layers are responsible for nutrient transportation within the tree.

One thing to note is that some trees or plants are connected to one another through their root system. Because of this, there is a chance that upon herbicide treatment, the chemicals will be translocated to non-target plants as well. Some of the vulnerable species include honey locusts, black locusts, hackberry, western soapberry, cottonwood, aspen, willow, poplar, etc.


The cut stump treatment method is one of the most widely used population control measures. It involves painting a freshly cut stump with glyphosate or triclopyr-based herbicide, or use Tordon RTU. This method is not ideal for large-scale projects or for small trees.

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