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How To Kill A Tree Without Cutting It Down

Trees are good and all, but not all of them should be on the property. Not everyone knows how to kill a tree in an easy and simple way, but worry no more. Some methods may be more discreet than the others, and I don’t recommend you using them on your neighbor’s tree. It is illegal, and there are many more peaceful ways to deal with that. You are going to find 7 effective ways that can safely kill a tree that is standing in your yard. Let’s see which one among those 7 that works the best for you.

Method 1: Copper Nails

This is a new way to kill a tree, and some people claimed that using copper nails can kill a tree. It works by slowly poisoning the tree, but it takes over a year to slay one. All you need to do is hammer copper nails into the tree and its roots. To make it even more effective, remove a piece of bark before driving the nails in. The copper nails may work faster upon closer contact with the core of the tree. So if your tree is not much of a nuisance, maybe this is a peaceful way to get rid of it.

Some of the copper nails that you might want to purchase:

Method 2: Epsom Salt

You probably already know that Epsom salt or salt, in general, can be quite toxic to plants and trees. This is why you can use it to your advantage by applying high dosages of Epsom salt around the roots. The salt will dehydrate the soil so that the roots will have nothing to absorb to support the tree. It is an eco-friendly method, and it also works nicely for most tree types. I recommend this method for small trees because it can be very costly and time-consuming with large trees.

Another way to use salt to kill a tree is by pouring a large amount of it into boiling water. Dig holes around the root system that pour the boiling water in there. The mixture of salt and boiling water can burn the tree roots, but make sure it gets to the root system. An audience from AskingLot said tree roots are very sensitive to extreme temperatures of either hot and cold. So boiling water can put it under stress and cause damage, and then it will eventually kill the tree.

Method 3: Girdling

Could be brutal, but it is one of the effective ways to kill a tree without cutting it down. Girdling or ring-barking is the process of complete removal of the tree bark from around the entire branch or trunk. So how can the process of girdling kill a tree? A layer called “phloem layer” locates just below the bark is responsible for carrying food to the roots. When you remove the tree bark, there will be no more food from the leaves for the roots. The roots then die so there are no minerals and water sending to the leaves, then the leaves die. It takes between 24 to 48 hours for the canopy and trunk above the girdling cut to permanently wilt. Depending on the tree size and its surrounding conditions, the effects do not take long to show.

Method 4: Herbicide

There are many ways that you can use herbicide to kill a tree, and I have 2 to recommend. The first method is to paint herbicide on the tree bark, and it can kill a tree sooner or later. This method is ideal for small and thin trees that stand in the way and ruin the landscape. For larger trees with thick barks, you will have to get physical. Use an ax to chop deep downward cuts around the tree trunk. According to SFGATE, you should leave around 1 to 2 inches of spaces of undamaged bark between the cuts. Then squirt your herbicide directly into the cuts and do it frequently, it is like applying salt to the wounds. It works fast, and this second method will kill the tree in the end.

Method 5: Leave Spraying

As for this method, it is specifically for small trees that start to sprout up around the perimeter of your home. Mix 4 to 8 ounces of brush killer with one gallon of water in a garden sprayer. Then spray the tree leaves and soak them with the solution that you mix. It simply discourages growth and kills those young trees so that they won’t get to grow. There are times when seedlings or young trees pop up in your garden on their own. When that happens, you know how to kill that kind of tree.

Method 6: Poison Injection

By directly injecting herbicide into the tree, it can kill the tree effectively. What you need to do is inject the herbicide every 2 to 6 inches around the circumference of the tree. At the same time, make sure that the injection point is about 5 feet up from ground level. Upon injection, penetrate the tree between 1.5 to 2 inches deep so that the herbicide can work its best. What I like about this method is that it is efficient, and there are instructions that you can follow. There is also a set of equipment for the whole process that you can buy which is quite convenient. It could be a little pricey, but you can trust that it works.

Method 7: Use Tordon

Tordon is one of the best tree killers that you can easily find on the market and online. This herbicide can kill hardy trees, tree roots, and tree stumps effectively, and it works every time. You can slowly kill the tree with Tordon by drilling several holes in the roots under the soil. Then pour Tordon in the holes that you drilled, and let it do its job which is about 4 weeks. It is a nice way to silently kill a tree without looking so harsh among tree-hugging neighbors. You can do the same with a tree stump if you already cut down the tree. There are instructions that you can follow, and Tordon is very easy to use. The best part is that this herbicide only affects plants so it is also safe for animals and humans.

Method 8: Homemade Tree Killers

In case you don’t want to use chemical substances to kill trees in your garden or yard, there are alternatives. There are a few homemade tree killers that you can try making at home. Remember that homemade tree killers are more effective with small and young trees. I have 3 homemade tree killers that you might find useful, so take a look.

Method 9: Block The Sunlight

A tree lives by doing photosynthesis and absorbing nutrients from the soil, and here is how. To prevent photosynthesis, simply cover the leaves from getting in contact with the sunlight. You can drape a tarp or thick drop cloth over it, then tie it tightly with a rope. For a more effective result, cover the trunk as well so that nothing will be exposed to the sun. Without air and sunlight, the leaves will wither and there is also no food for the roots. You can also add some boiling water to the roots to accelerate the killing process. When damages keep coming, the trees will not survive. This method is for small to medium-size trees, and it will take some time.

Method 10: Vinegar

As you probably already know, vinegar is one of the most useful ingredients to have at home. And we are going to talk about how to use it to kill trees today. Vinegar can cause a strong burning sensation to the plant leaves and burn living tissue inside a tree. What you need is horticultural vinegar because it contains more acetic acid which makes it stronger. If you only have white vinegar, it is going to take you a lot more time. Drill several deep holes in the trunk and fill them with vinegar, then refill the holes as frequently as you can. Some trees will die within a month, but you can also speed up the process by adding salt.

How To Kill A Tree Root

Tree roots can grow so deep below the ground sometimes, and root systems can spread over a large area. This can be a problem because those roots can damage sewer pipes and other underground systems. The good thing is there are effective ways to kill a tree root, so let’s take a look.

1. Bleach

One of the frequently asked questions is “Can bleach kill tree roots?”, and the answer is yes. This method works with the roots that are visible on the ground or the ones that you can dig out. Simply drill holes into those roots then paint bleach and pour some onto the roots. Repeat this process until the roots die because they will sooner or later. Bleach can also kill trees and other plant foliage if you use them long enough. Make sure not to overfill because bleach can also damage surrounding plants and vegetation. But if it is okay with you, then pour it away.

Here are some of the best bleach that you might be interested in:

2. Chemical Root Killer

Not everyone has all the time in the world to wait for the tree roots to die, so here is a fast way. There are certain chemical root killers online that you can get, and their effectiveness is also quite satisfying. These chemical root killers simply get rid of invasive septic and sewer pipe roots without harming the tree. You can apply it to certain roots that appear to cause damages or problems around the house. The main purpose of chemical root killers is to eliminate roots in pipes while the tree remains safe. So if this is the problem that you are having, I want to recommend some options that will work.

Here are some of the best chemical root killers that you might be interested in:

3. Homemade Tree Root Killer

You can use natural tree root killers by mixing ingredients from the kitchen such as cider vinegar and salt. After that, pour the solution directly on the tree roots after digging and exposing them. The strong substances from the mixture will cause damage to the roots and prevent them from absorbing nutrients. To make it even more effective, repeat the process a few times each week until the roots are gone. Another way is to flush the mixture into the lowest toilet in the house so that it will fill the pipes. Then the solution will leach into the offensive roots which can kill them. This process may take a lot of time, but it has been proved to work. This is why I recommend using chemical tree root killers if the roots are damaging the sewage system underground.

4. Rock Salt

Rock salt kills tree roots simply by robbing water from them which causes dehydration to the root system. This method can effectively kill tree roots, and all you need are a drill, rock salt, and water. Drill several holes about 3 to 4 inches deep into the cut surface of the tree trunk and on the roots. Then fill all the holes completely with rock salt, and pour water into them to fill to the top. If there surrounding vegetation, avoid overfilling because it can harm the other plants. Also, make sure your pets are not around because this solution is toxic to pets. Keep filling the salt and water several times for a few months, and the tree roots will die at last.


It can be quite challenging to kill a tree without cutting it down because felling is the easiest way. So if you choose to kill a tree without physically cutting it, I hope my tips are helpful. And if you have difficulties in cutting, killing, or removing the trees, your last option is to hire an arborist. These professionals will provide the services that you need to deal with trees in your lawn or yard. If you have any concerns that I can help with, fire them away in the comment section below.

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