How To Kill A Tree Without Cutting It Down

While trees are an excellent complement to any yard, there comes a time when they exceed their usefulness. There are various reasons why you might need to remove a tree, including its unruliness or proximity to your house or driveway.

Cutting down a tree may be a tough and risky process, especially when dealing with larger trees. If you’re scared to cut down a tree or don’t want anybody to know about your plans, there are several less apparent ways to destroy a tree without having to cut it down.

In our guide, you can find the different ways of how to destroy a tree without cutting it down. By the end, you’ll be able to select the best method based on whether you have a small tree or a larger tree that you need to deal with.

No matter what way you go, you need to follow all the proper safety precautions when you learn how to kill a tree without cutting it down or seeking tree removal. (Learn How Long Does It Take For A Tree To Grow)

Tordon RTU a tree killer

What Kills Trees Quickly?

Tordon RTU, a powerful tree killer that won’t hurt your grass, is the best herbicide for killing
a tree.

It can be employed in a variety of tree-killing situations. One thing to keep in mind is that Tordon applied to a single tree can enter the soil from treated trees and damage nearby trees; thus, this choice is better for standalone trees or to clear brushy areas.

Here are a few other ways you can chemically kill a large tree.

Cut Surface Treatments:

The hack and squirt method entails carving a channel through the bark to allow herbicide to enter the plant’s vascular tissue. It is best not to do this in the spring as sap production can stop absorption.

Start creating a bunch of downward cuts using an ax or hatchet around the circumference of the tree. Ensure you leave the cut portion of bark attached to the tree.

Injection Treatments:

When the tree is cut down, use specialized tree injection equipment to inject a specific dose of herbicide into the tree. When injections are made every 2 to 6 inches around the tree, the treatment is effective. Treat trees with a diameter of 1.5 inches or greater at chest height for the most significant results.

Stump Treatments:

After chopping down a tree, treat the freshly cut surface with herbicide to inhibit sprouting and decrease the possibility of regeneration. Treat only the outer 2 to 3 inches of the stump, including the cambium layer, on larger trees. Treat the entire cut surface of trees with a diameter of 3 inches or fewer.

Foliar herbicide:

Spray growth control herbicide onto the leaves of saplings rather than large trees.

Basal Bark Treatments

Basal Bark Treatments:

From early spring through mid-fall, apply herbicide on the lower 12 to 18 inches of the tree trunk. During the winter, several species can be treated. Spray the bark with a mixture of herbicide and oil until it is saturated. The only oil-soluble products approved for this purpose are low-volatile ester formulations. This technique works on trees of all sizes. (Learn How To Grow An Avocado Tree That Bears Fruit)

Soil Treatment:

Specific soil treatments applied evenly to the soil surface can travel into the plant roots after adequate rainfall or overhead moisture. Banding involves applying a concentrated solution to the soil in a line or band every 2 to 4 feet. This type of application can kill a huge number of trees.

It is advisable to wear protective equipment when dealing with any chemicals or weed killer herbicide solution.

Can You Kill a Tree With Salt?

An excellent technique to kill a tree is to use salt. Sodium stops a tree’s potassium and magnesium from flowing, which is necessary for chlorophyll production.

Your tree will eventually die with a lack of chlorophyll. Draw a line of salt around the tree, yet you need to be sure nothing else is close as it will kill other plants in the vicinity.

Epsom Salt

Besides regular salt, you can use Epsom Salts to do the same. You will discover Epsom salts are beneficial, yet in large amounts, they have the opposite effect.

Overdosing the tree with Epsom salt pulls the moisture from the tree and the roots to kill it through dehydration.

  1. Drill holes in the trunk toward the base inch wide using a drill.
  2. Sprinkle the trunk with water and then fill the drilled holes with Epsom salt.
  3. Cover the trunk and repeat as necessary.

Will Vinegar Kill a Tree?

Garden centers sell various herbicides for killing trees, yet you can go the organic way and use homemade tree killers that kill right down to the tree roots.


Household vinegar can burn plant leaves and vital tissue within a tree. White vinegar contains 5% acetic acid, whereas horticulture vinegar includes 20% acetic acid.

Although a single application of white vinegar to the leaves does not kill a tree, dying the leaves hinders the tree from photosynthesizing and transporting carbohydrates to the roots, leading to the tree’s death overtime.

You’ll need the means to get the vinegar to the roots quickly without substantially raising the acidity in the soil for future plants. Drill holes in the trunk and fill them with vinegar. Check frequently to add more as the tree consumes the vinegar. (Read Can You Plant A Tree In Winter)

You cal slowly kill large trees within a month, but they can die faster when you apply vinegar along with the salt treatment.

Will Bleach Kill a Tree?

Bleach will damage any tree or plant foliage it contacts. This shows that when a tree is sprayed with bleach, the leaves become brown and fall off.

While this may harm some trees and plants, it’s not sure, as bleach isn’t a systemic tree killer. This can seriously harm and weaken a tree, but it is unlikely to kill it.

You can start drilling holes and pour bleach into them, yet this may not be enough to kill the tree. Bleach can, however, kill other plants or small trees as these don’t have the safe defenses as a large tree. (Read Decorating A Tree Stump)

Here are a few other ways you can kill trees if that is your personal preference.

Chemical Herbicide as a Tree Killer

This is by far the best way to kill trees without cutting them down. There are several ways you could do this.

  1. Go a few inches away from the trunk and quickly drill into the roots.
  2. If you think it appears strange to drill holes in the roots next to a tree. You can mask the operation by having a flag pole inside the PVC pipe sticking out of the ground for your favorite sports team.
  3. Apply tree killer that kills the tree that can kill more resilient trees. As above, Tordon is the best tree killer.
  4. Simply pour the tree killer into the holes in the root system, and in a few days to a couple of weeks, the smaller trees should be dead. Other trees that are larger could take a long and a repeat dose.

Tree girdling

Girdling Method

Girdling trees have been a practice for many years. You cut a ring around the tree’s outer layer, remove loose bark, and the whole tree eventually dies.

The supply of nutrients from the roots to the tree is cut off once you have girdled a tree. However, everything below the girdle remains alive.

In some areas, the practice of girdle tree to kill a tree without cutting it down could be frowned on. Tethering a goat around your tree can mean you can girdle a tree without others spotting what you have done. Goats love to eat bark and leaves from thin-barked trees and around the entire tree, thus girdling it and causing severe damage.

Horses have been used, yet not all horses will do this, and it can be easier to deal with goats.

Copper Nails

Copper nails are a popular method to kill trees, yet when you hammer copper nails to kill a tree, it isn’t one of the best methods as it can take around a year.
Simply hammer lots of copper nails into the live wood of the trunk, or you can hammer them into the roots.

There are five major types of herbicides you can use for how to kill a tree; only some of the Growth regulator type herbicides are approved for use in the home to deal with unwanted trees or on crops.

  • Triclopyr amine and triclopyr ester act as growth regulators, whereas glyphosate and imazapyr kill plants by interfering with protein synthesis.
  • To remove a chunk of wood, carve a 1/2 inch downward cut into the bark of the tree with a hatchet.
  • Make a second cut 2 inches apart from the first in the bark.
  • Combine a water-soluble herbicide with glyphosate in a plastic spray bottle or a hose sprayer.
  • Pour this into the dry wood where the tree can absorb it.

It would help if you were careful of many of the above methods to kill a tree without cutting it down. You don’t want to damage other people’s property or someone else’s tree.

If you kill a tree without them being aware, you could have dead branches falling into their garden.

How To Kill A Tree Without Cutting It Down

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