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How to Kill a Tree without Any Hassle!!

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Why Should You Do It?

Killing a tree seems like a fierce and harsh step to take! Before you take this step, you must ask the question, “Is it indispensable?” There could be several reasons why you want to do this. The most common reasons are:

  • It is in a bad location and can cause damage to your house.
  • It is not letting any sunlight in to let your other plants grow.
  • It is shedding too much, and it is not easy to manage it.
  • You need the space for something else.
  • It can be dangerous to people, pets, or vehicles in some way.

When we shifted to our new house, there was this beautiful large tree! I laid a lawn around the tree and planted some plants. We spent a lot of time under that tree and loved it!

Soon, we noticed many small plants popping out around the tree! I just pulled them out and didn’t bother much. Slowly the grass withered away, and so did the other plants and bushes around the tree.

How to Kill a Tree

It was when I took an expert’s help that I realized that this tree was taking over the whole garden. He explained how the roots wouldn’t let anything else grow. His advice was to kill the tree!

It took a lot of research and reading on my part to get totally convinced about this. Once I decided to take this step, it required more research to find the best way to do it. I will lay out all the information for you to make it easier for you.

Things You Need

The size of the tree will be the most crucial factor when it comes to choosing the method of killing it. If it is a small tree, then it is possible to get rid of it easily by spraying herbicide, but if it is a large tree, you may need to try some other method.

Depending on the technique, you may need these things.

  • Herbicide and Chemical plant killer: this is the easiest way to kill a tree. Glyphosate and Imazapyr are the most well known and most used plant killers. Triclopyramine and Triclopyrester are more for regulating growth but, in some cases, can be used effectively to kill a tree.
  • Ax: you need a sharp ax for cutting the trunk. You will need the ax for another method where you need to make small cuts on the trunk. Make sure the ax is sharp; otherwise, you may get hurt. A dull ax means more effort on your part.
  • Chainsaw: for large trees cutting manually is not possible. A chainsaw is more effective and useful in cutting a large tree in a short time.
  • Grinder: this machine is used after a tree is cut down. It grinds the stump and makes it smooth. Rough edges can cause accidents and cause harm to people and animals.
  • Drill: the drill is useful when you want to fill the tree with herbicide. You can also use it if you’re going to use the salt method.
  • Injection: this is a tool that will allow you to inject the herbicide directly into the tree.
  • Sprayer: for some trees, just spraying herbicide on the leaves and branches is enough. For other methods of killing the tree also you need to spray the herbicide.
  • Bleach: once you have cut the tree, you can apply bleach on the stump. It is good at stopping new growth and killing the tree.
  • Safety Gear, including thick gloves and safety glasses: before taking on such a project, make sure that you have the best safety gear. Gloves should be thick and comfortable. Safety glasses are essential to save your eyes from any flying pieces of shrapnel.

If you are planning to use some other methods, you may need:

  • Salt: some people swear by this natural method of drilling holes in the stump and filling it with salt.
  • Copper Nails: this is a time-consuming method, and not many people believe it actually works. Some chemical reaction takes place with the copper and helps in killing a tree.

How to Kill a Tree?

For a tree to grow to its full size takes a really long time. Trees play such a crucial part in our environment that killing or destroying a tree has to be the last resort. Once you have made up your mind, then it is time to choose the right method. Let us take a look at different ways we can kill a tree.

Cut it Down

When it is a huge tree, you need first to cut it down. You can use an ax to cut the branches, but if the trunk is really thick, you will need to have a chainsaw.

If you are not used to the power of a chainsaw, it is better to hire a professional. Accidents can happen because it is a reliable and powerful machine.

Once you cut the tree to its stump, you may want to grind it to the ground. Sometimes cutting and grinding is not enough for killing the tree.

You will notice new sprouts which you will need to remove regularly. This should kill the tree, but if it does not die, then you will have to dig deep and remove all the roots. Buckthorn plant is well known for its resilience and will die only after the removal of all its roots!

Starve the Tree

Girdling or starving a tree is also quite common. As the name suggests, you are going to stop the flow of sap between roots and crown of the tree. It is an easy way to kill a tree, and that is why quite popular as well. However, the tree may take months to die! Let us take a look at the steps.

Starve the Tree - How to Kill a Tree
Starve the Tree via
  • Start by pulling away from the loose bark. You need access to the trunk.
  • Try to get a band of about 4 to 5 inches in width all around the trunk.
  • You will need to make cuts to get to the trunk. You can use a hatchet or an ax.
  • The height is not very important, so whatever is comfortable for you is fine.
  • The depth of the girdle should be about 1.5 to 2 inches.
  • The width can vary from 3 to 9 inches depending upon the size of the tree.

How this works is that the bark of tree transports nutrients from the soil to the branches and leaves. If all bark is removed from a tree, it may lead to its death. However, this is not a fool-proof method. Some trees are resilient and can jump the girdle and thrive!

Drill Holes in Roots

This is an excellent way to kill a tree when you don’t want to cut it down. This is a simple method. Go around the tree and drill through the dirt into the roots. Usually, the bigger roots are visible, while for the smaller and thinner roots, you will need to dig deeper to find them.

Drill Holes in Tree Roots - How to Kill a Tree

Once you find the roots and drill holes in them now, you should apply herbicide. Make sure that the holes are fresh and don’t allow them to dry again up or harden before the application of herbicide.

Use a strong herbicide and use it liberally. If there are a lot of plants around the tree, then use a chemical that will not harm the soil quality. It may take anywhere between a couple of weeks to a month or two for the tree to be completely dead.

Copper Nails

If you are also wondering about this method, then you are not alone! It is still not considered a real method though many people swear by it. You may find people for whom it worked.

The main problem with this method is that it may take more than a year to kill the tree. The best part is that it does not require much effort from you! All you have to do is hammer some copper nails into the tree.

Make sure that the nails go into the trunk and roots and are long enough. A chemical reaction is what is going to kill the tree.


Again this is not a very effective method, but some people swear by this method. One main reason is that it is entirely safe for the environment and soil. After you cut the tree, you should drill some holes on the surface. Now fill it up with salt, and this will slowly lead to the tree’s death.

Chemicals and Herbicides

Herbicides can be useful but only if used properly. You have to be careful about the environment, especially if the tree is in a residential area with a lot of people around.

Chemicals can easily bleach into the ground and make it unsafe in different ways. There are various ways you can use chemicals.

Surface Application

You will have to make a series of downward cuts into the trunk all around. You can use an ax or a hatchet to make these cuts. The cut should not be a complete one, and it should remain stuck on the tree like a flap. Immediately after making the cut apply the herbicide.

Applying herbicide to the tree - How to Kill a Tree

Injecting Chemicals

There are specialized tree injections with which you can administer herbicide into the tree. To make it more effective, inject every 2 to 5 inches around the tree.

Take an area of about 2 inches wide and go around the tree injecting herbicide. It requires some careful administration, so it is a good idea to take help from experts. The special equipment is also expensive, so buying it for one tree does not make any sense.

Treating the Stump

Even after cutting down a tree, you may have to deal with the new sprouts and re-growth. To stop this, you should apply the herbicide immediately after cutting a tree. On large trees, you can target the outer few inches of the stump. For thinner trees, you can apply the chemical on the full stump surface.

Shoot Tree Stump - How to Kill a Tree

Bark Treatment

This is best done between the spring and fall seasons. You should apply herbicide to the lower parts of the trunk, on the bark.

From the ground to about 2 feet could be the ideal height. You can mix oil with herbicide for better absorption into the tree. This is quite an effective method for all sizes of trees.

Foliage Treatment

This method is not always effective but is excellent when used with other techniques in tandem. It is not advisable when you have children and pets running around. in residential areas using a harsh chemical to spray on the foliage can result in air pollution and bad air quality.

Soil Treatment

Certain chemicals are very effective as tree killers when they are applied to the soil surface. The chemicals seep down into the roots and attack them.

If you need to kill a large number of trees, then you can use a method called banding where you will have to apply a concentrated solution to the soil in a line or band. This can be at a distance of about every 2 or 3 feet.

If even after killing the tree the roots continue to be a problem then you can try one of these things:

Tree roots - How to Kill a Tree
  • Root Killers: you can use chemicals with sulfur, copper sulfate, etc. that can be very effective. If you don’t want these toxic ingredients, then you can use a mixture of baking soda, vinegar, salt, and boiling water. This works well when the roots have entered sewer lines and drainpipes.
  • Bleach: expose the roots and then make some cuts with an ax or drill holes. Apply bleach either with a brush or use a sprayer. Repeat the process every few days. It may take some time and effort.
  • Salt: drill holes in the roots and fill them with salt and water. This also requires multiple applications and takes a lot of time, maybe even months.

Some Important Points

Like we mentioned before, killing a tree should be the last resort, and this step should be taken with a lot of consideration. Once you have made up your mind to kill the tree, you should take into account specific tips which we are sharing with you.

  • Herbicides and chemicals in any way are going to affect the soil quality and environment.
  • Whenever you apply herbicide on cuts, it should be immediately when the cut is raw.
  • You can try using dyes or stains to monitor the correct application of herbicide.
  • Large trees have roots that extend to a huge area all around and can carry herbicide to other parts of the ground.
  • Take proper permissions from the authorities; otherwise, you may have to face problems.
  • Whichever method you use, do it with full knowledge. You should know the pros and cons of each technique.
  • Take an expert’s help in the process to get the best results.
  • If you are not good with tools like chainsaw and ax, then it is better to hire professionals.
  • Once you cut a tree, you should give importance to its removal also.

While you take steps to kill a tree, do ensure personal safety as well as environmental safety. Keep in mind all the tips we have shared with you and do it only when you are confident.


I decided to kill my tree after a lot of thought. Then deliberating on the method also took a lot of time. This resulted in the tree getting entrenched even more!

I have shared all this information with you for this reason only. Once you decide to take this step, you will find the information given here very useful. If you were wondering “how to kill a tree?” then we feel that after reading this article, you will get all the answers.

If you find this information useful, then feel free to share it with friends and neighbors who are facing the same problems. If you have any suggestions or advice for us, then feel free to contact us.

We love to see your comments and advice because it helps us in many ways! If you still have any doubts or questions, we will be happy to answer them. Killing a tree can be very easy if you do it the right way. Ensure that you do it for the right reasons and in the right way!