Lawns are actually not natural. They are nice, healthy, and add tremendous environmental benefits to the urban environment. Mother Nature however is always trying to do her thing, and attempting to eventually grow a forest in your lawn. That’s what all these little tree saplings are that always pop up in Carolina lawns in spring. Many homeowners think they are weeds, and technically they are, as a weed is a plant growing out of place. Homeowners want lawns, with only turf such as fescue growing and no weeds, or tree saplings.
These tree saplings are actually little trees germinating from seeds that blew into the soil last year, or planted by squirrels and other animals, such as acorns from oak trees. Maples, hackberry, elm, and oaks are notorious seed producers. So if you or your neighbors have these types of trees, you’ll probably have tree saplings in your lawn every spring. Pre-emergent products applied earlier don’t do anything to prevent tree saplings from germinating, so they will just come up anyway. It’s really impractical to spray these with a post-emergent herbicide, as they will die out as soon as the lawn is mowed. So they will simply go away soon with mowing, and they don’t put any pressure on the turf at all.
If the lawn was not mowed and you allowed Mother Nature to run her course, then eventually you’d actually have a forest in your lawn. But that’s not going to happen, as you’d receive a citation from the city well before that would come about! So we recommend to just mow them down, as lawns need mowing now anyway.