You need tree removal, and you need to do it in such a way that no one is aware. There can be many reasons, such as, it’s a neighbor’s tree, and they won’t cut it down, and even though it’s on their property, it’s killing plants, or your house is suffering structural damage as a result.
While you shouldn’t kill a neighbor’s tree without them knowing, it is handy to know the effective ways to do this if you want to take the risk.
Killing a tree in secret is a tall order and can’t be accomplished quickly. In our guide, you’ll find enough information to kill a tree undetected regardless of your reasons. By the end, you’ll know all the means that work and a few things that don’t for killing a tree undetected. (Read How Fast Do Maple Trees Grow)
What is Girdling a Tree?
Girdling is a way of dying trees without cutting them down. Girdling involves severing the bark, cambium layer, and sometimes sapwood in a ring that wraps around the tree’s trunk.
When the ring is large enough, it can prevent the cambium layer from coming again, making it the best way to kill a tree.
This is the best method for killing trees that will subsequently be felled for firewood. However, to ensure that both the treetop and the tree roots are killed, we recommend the following procedure:
- Remove a belt or “girdle” of bark around the tree with a hatchet, hammer, and chisel, or your chainsaw. In the olden days, goats were used to obtain the same result.
- The removed bark ring should be at least 4–8 inches broad.
- Some people go the extra mile and apply Tordon or Roundup to the exposed wood, where the bark was removed for more effective and faster effects.
- Nutrients are transported beneath the bark of trees, and girdling stops the flow from the roots to the branches. You may find it more effective on thick bark than thin-barked trees.
- Although ring-barking without herbicide can kill certain trees, you could find tree roots survive.
- Drill a belt of holes around the base of the tree trunk with a drill and a 1/2 inch drill bit. Make these at a 45-degree angle facing downward.
- The depth of each hole should be 1 1/2 inches. Drill holes every 2–3 inches around the circle of the tree. Then, using a sprayer or a squeeze bottle applicator, fill the holes with Roundup or Tordon herbicide and wait until the tree dies.
Will Copper Sulfate Kill Trees?
There is some debate on whether copper nails do any good to kill a big tree. However, they could have more effect on a small tree as you can hammer copper nails deeper toward the center of the small tree.
How to Kill a Tree Using Copper Sulfate
Copper sulfate is a poison used to keep tree roots away from sewer systems and kill a whole tree if used appropriately.
While spraying copper sulfate on the ground may kill a tree, the sulfate is dangerous to the water supply and the earth; therefore, this practice should be avoided.
1st step: At the tree’s root, remove an inch or two of bark. Suppose the bark is too thick to peel, three sides of a square with a knife to make a small bark tab.
2nd step: Drill a downward angle hole in the tree’s trunk.
3rd step: Place a funnel in the hole and fill it with copper sulfate until it’s almost full. The lengthier and larger the hole, the more copper sulfate you can pour in and the faster you can kill the tree.
4th Step: Remove the funnel and replace the bark to keep the copper sulfate from being washed away by rain.
Using copper nails to kill a tree
At the root of the target tree, hammer in a copper nail at an angle, traveling downward. There is no specific size for copper nails, but the more surface area the nail has in terms of length and width, the more efficient the treatment is. (Read Do Copper Nails Kill Trees)
A longer nail also shows deeper penetration, implying that the tree is more susceptible to infection.
Continue hammering nails in a ring around the tree, spaced about a half-inch apart. As a result, an increased number of growth cells will be destroyed, raising the copper concentration in the tree.
The higher the concentration, the more likely the metal may oxidize and poison the tree. A single copper nail can kill a tree, but this is only true for small trees like seedlings. Larger trees can easily tolerate a single nail and grow over it with no ill effects.
Cover the heads with mud or dirt to hide the copper nails and conceal them. Copper shines brightly in tree trunks because of its vivid color. From a distance, no one will spot them.
Covering the nails keeps the process hidden from casual viewers and helps keep the yard appearing as it should. (Learn How To Grow An Avocado Tree That Bears Fruit)
If the tree dies, remove the nails from the dead tree before anything is done with the tree in the way of tree removal.
Alternative Ways to Kill Trees Secretly
You still need to wear safety glasses, gloves, and other protection when you want to kill a tree without anyone knowing.
Here are the alternative ways to kill a tree without too much effort and notice from anyone.
Usually, a tree would be cut down, and you start drilling holes in the stump and roots. Here, you’ll best use a tree killer like Tordon. When you don’t want anyone to know, though, you can drill holes in exposed roots and dig deeper to expose more roots. No one can see the roots buried beneath the soil if holes are drilled into them.
You can then apply herbicide to the tree roots, yet it could take applications every few days to get your results.
Also, you apply herbicide by drilling into the lower section of the tree trunk. If you need to hide the areas, use a piece of bark and glue to hide the hole.
Drill holes all around the tree and spray herbicide while holes are still fresh.
If you spray a strong herbicide on tree leaves and foliage, make sure you do this on dry days, or it can blow across to nearby trees and plants you want to keep.
Herbicide application to standing trees is best made in the fall. In the fall, tree sap flows downward, taking pesticide to the tree’s roots, killing it altogether.
In the spring, sap rises. Leaves and branches will be killed by herbicide, but roots will survive.
Spring is not the best time to use a herbicide solution to kill standing trees. Sap flows upward from the roots in the spring. Herbicides applied through the bark are unlikely to reach the roots. This may cause the tree’s upper branches to die while fresh shoots emerge from the roots and base of the trunk close to the ground.
Many tree-killing chemicals are effective. You can drill holes in the roots and poison them.
Some poisons are so potent that they can kill all the plants and trees in their immediate vicinity. When you want to kill multiple nearby trees or don’t mind sacrificing a few for the sake of killing one, this is a good option!
To hide your actions and destroy a tree without noticing, drill holes into the root system and insert flag poles in a PVC tube until you have dead trees. You can even use the PVC to apply your tree killers to the roots and stop them from seeping into the soil.
When you apply poison, it’s essential to keep in mind that you could harm your lawn and other garden plants and kill the tree. (Read Killing Tree Stumps With Diesel Guide)
Epsom salt or rock salt in high dosages will kill trees. It can, however, kill anything in an area around your tree, such as nearby grass.
You can dig a hole close to your tree and fill it with salt. It would help if you had a lot of salt in this method, but luckily, it isn’t expensive.
One side effect can be the withering of grass around the large tree. You can drill holes as with other methods and mix half salt and boiling water before pouring this into any drilled holes.
Cut deep, and the Epsom salt will dry the tree from the inside and kill a tree without anyone knowing using this effective method.
Vinegar can cause any plant or tree’s living tissues and leaves to burn.
Horticultural vinegar is stronger than white vinegar; white vinegar has 5% acetic acid, whereas horticultural vinegar contains 20%.
Although white household vinegar will not kill a tree directly, it will inhibit photosynthesis by harming the leaves. This will starve the tree’s roots and eventually destroy it.
If you can get the vinegar to the roots, the procedure will be sped up. Drill holes in the roots and pour vinegar into them.
When you use vinegar with salt treatment, you will get better results. Even a huge tree or other plants can perish in a few days to a month.
It’s a great technique to kill a tree. Any of the three acids will do muriatic acid, hydrochloric acid, or sulfuric acid.
All offer good results, yet muriatic acid can be easier to get. All you need to do is pour acid around a tree’s base at night.
Remember, it has strong fumes and can be harmful when breathed in. So, while pouring, be cautious and don’t stand downwind. Once the leaves fall, the tree struggles to recover.
Several fungi and bacteria found in the soil are essential to the survival of trees and plants.
The tree receives aeration and nutrition from these microbes. Bleach can sterilize or kill bacteria. Pour bleach around the roots will kill all germs and the bacteria and fungus perish, thus killing the tree slowly.
Bleach will, unfortunately, make the surrounding area and treated trees smell considerably, and all the time your tree dying, it smells very clinical from the bleach tree killer you applied.