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At the base of our old garage where the concrete foundation meets an asphalt slope down to the alley behind, we've had small elm tree saplings grow as weeds over the past three years. I've never managed to pull one out when they are very small, and instead had to clip them down at their bases. Each year they regrow from the same little stumps, more and thicker new shoots.

Since I cannot dig them out without tearing up the asphalt, how can I permanently kill the roots left there after I've lopped off all the shoots and cut the little stumps down as near to the concrete as possible?

A salesperson at the home center suggested concentrated ground clear, but I wonder if there's something less drastic I can use to target only the sapling stumps. The area is not in proximity of any other plants, lawn, or where children might play.

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I don't have personal experience with this. However, when referring to stumps from maples, I have had it suggested to paint roundup onto the stumps. This may require repeated doses. I presume it would work with elms, too.

Since you don't have anything else around, you also don't have to worry about the roundup being in the soil for a while to prevent other plants from growing. This would be why I don't have personal experience, in fact, as there are many plants around the maple saplings in question.

That would be what I would try, were I in your situation.

And because I like references, this looks useful about halfway down the page.

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Yes that sounds the right thing. In the US, the Brush-B-Gon brand works well when brushed on to the stumps of saplings, brush, ivy, privet, etc. Using a brush ensures localised treatment and that it gets into the circulation. Apply immediately after cutting. –  winwaed Jun 25 '11 at 3:20

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