I recently had to cut down a 4-year-old elm tree because its forked trunk snapped. It had about an eight-inch trunk and a corresponding root system. Do you have any suggestions about putting anything on the trunk and roots to discourage suckering and to assist in decomposing the trunk?

— Leah

What you're asking about is really two different things. Killing the stump is easy with an herbicide called Fertilome Brush and Stump Killer.

Apply it full strength to a fresh cut on the stump or drill several 3/4-inch holes into the stump — make sure you drill down into moist, living wood — and fill the holes with the product. It is absorbed into the stump and goes down and kills the roots.

It doesn't help the stump to rot away. It just kills it.

A product called "Stump Remover" is supposed to accelerate the rotting of the wood. Once it gets spongy, you soak it with diesel fuel and light it so it burns out the stump.

Frankly, I'm more than a bit skeptical about how well it works, plus the thought of this thing smoldering out in the yard for Lord knows how long makes me uncomfortable. It reminds me of some of those coal mines that catch fire and smolder under a mountain for years.

The only sure way I know of to get rid of a stump quickly is doing it the old fashioned way. Dig it up! It's a hard, nasty job by hand, but it works.

The best way to do it is with a backhoe if you can get one into the area to dig up the stump. The stump and roots will eventually rot away but it takes years and years for that to happen.

If you don't need to plant anything in that area you can just cut the stump off flush with the ground and let it be. You also can hire someone to grind the stump out. This really doesn't remove the stump, it just takes it down below ground level so it can be buried and forgotten.

You really can't plant anything there except perhaps lawn. If you do this, don't let the wood chips lay there. The soil you cover it with will settle and sink as the wood decomposes. Get out all you can, and then fill the void with topsoil.

We have an 8-year-old dwarf Catalpa tree that looks like it's only 1 year old. It has never done well where it is planted. Now, due to putting in a new patio, it needs to be moved. What should we do?

— Kerry

It sounds like you have nothing to lose by moving the tree to another spot. In fact, that's usually what I recommend when people have a tree that just seems to stall. The shock and disturbance to the tree is often what the tree needs to kick it out of its "funk."

It's kind of like some tough love for the tree.

The best time to transplant your tree is March. You could transplant it now, but I don't like that as well as spring.

Winter can be a stressful time for plants and sometimes adding the additional stress of transplanting can push a plant over the edge. If you have the luxury of time, let the plant get through the winter first and then do the transplanting before it breaks bud next year.

I am interested in a weeping Norway spruce. Can it take our full sun here?

— Carolyn

I'm afraid we haven't had very good luck growing them in full sun, hot exposures. They tend to burn quite often.

I'd try to put it in a spot that gets at least afternoon shade. The cooler morning sun doesn't bother them as much.

You don't want to put them in dark shade. Weeping Norway spruce needs a good level of light, just not the scorching sun we get in the afternoons.

Dennis Hill is the nursery manager at Bookcliff Gardens, bookcliffgardens.com. Send questions to Bookcliff Gardens, 755 26 Road, Grand Junction 81506, or email info@bookcliffgardens.com.

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