How To Kill A Tree Without Chemicals

There are many ways to kill a tree and a lot of them have to do with some kind of chemicals.

But what if you don’t want to use chemicals, there is very little information you can find.

Killing trees without chemicals includes girdling the tree, using copper nails, using salt, and applying vinegar.

Read on to find out how exactly to kill trees by using these options.

Why to avoid chemicals

While chemicals can be effective in killing trees, you may want to make every effort to avoid them.

Herbicides include chemicals called glyphosate, which can be harmful to humans in high doses.

Even in small doses, it can sometimes be harmful to your pets.

Dogs are big smellers, so they can go around the yard smelling the herbicides everywhere and can get into their systems.

Also, if you get too close to your garden, those herbicides can get onto your fruits and vegetables, which might get into your system.

Lastly, some herbicides are powerful enough that they might kill plants and trees that are further away than where you originally placed the herbicide.

So you might originally intend to kill the tree in your backyard, but you might end up killing your neighbor’s trees as well.

So avoid the chemicals, if possible.

Girdle the tree

Girdling a tree is a very interesting concept and a technique that has been around for quite some time.

There is a history of Native Americans doing this to areas to clear out the trees or to use the trees for firing burning later on.

According to

In the New England area, Native Americans settled in advantageous areas near water and game, and may have used fire to burn off forest for agricultural use. They cleared land by girdling–removing a strip of bark around the circumference of trees to kill them–or by cutting trees down. After living in an area for ten years or so, the land and game would become scarcer, and bands would move on to new land. The old land was left empty for up to fifty years to allow a return of nutrients, and then might be used again.,or%20by%20cutting%20trees%20down.

So it seems that girdling can be pretty effective with killing your trees, so it can be then used for firewood later on.

But why is girdling effective?

With girdling, you are essentially cutting off the phloem and this then means that the tree cannot transport the sugars from the branches of the tree down to the roots.

And without the sugars in the roots, then tree is going to die.

And it will die still standing.

That means you can then cut it down for firewood or leave it there until you are ready to cut it down or use it for some other purpose.

And girdling, for the most part, is pretty easy.

First, you have to decide at what level of the tree you are going to girdle.

Anything about your girdle line will die, while the base will still be there.

So it could be good to do it as long as possible on the tree.

Or you might want to do it a little higher up so as to not leave a stump that you might hurt yourself on.

Once you’ve determined the line, go and get some safety gear on.

This would include gloves and safety goggles.

Then, grab a tool to make your girdle line.

This could be a chainsaw, hatchet, ax, etc.

Once you have your tool, might a thin line (about 2 or 3 inches) around the circumference of the tree.

You want to take off the bark and at least a half of an inch into the tree.

When you have created this line, then create another one a few inches below it.

Having two girdling lines will be more effective than one and is more likely that the girdling will kill the tree.

Now you wait.

Girdling won’t kill the tree right away.

So you might have to wait a few months before the tree is dead.

But make sure to keep an eye on it and make another girdling line after a few months if the tree hasn’t died.

Use copper nails

The effectiveness of killing a tree with copper nails mostly depends on how resilient your trees are.

If you’ve got some pretty strong and thicks trees, the copper nails might not do a great job at killing the trees.

But it certainly doesn’t hurt to try.

First, you need to purchase a pack of copper nails.

You can find some on Amazon here.

Once you had the copper nails, now you want to nail them into the base of the tree, all along the base.

You don’t have to put the nail all the way into the base of the tree, but the further down you nail them, the more effective they are doing to be.

Then, cover the nails with mud and let them dry.

Covering them with mud doesn’t really do anything for the process, but it does give them cover and make the nail inconspicuous to anyone walking around.

It may take some time, but your tree may eventually die from the nails.

Some people have reported that it can take over a year for the tree to die, but it did eventually die.

Use salt

Another tried and true method of killing a tree is using salt.

According to

You may have heard of “salting the earth,” an old war tactic designed to make growing crops impossible. While the ancient soldiers may not have understood how it worked, they knew it was effective. Now, when property owners want to kill an isolated plant without affecting the surrounding plants, they can turn to salt.

Salt disrupts how a plant can use nutrients to grow and thrive. The sodium ions prevent the flow of potassium and magnesium through the tree’s root system. These nutrients are necessary ingredients in the making of chlorophyll, and when a tree can’t make the chlorophyll it needs for food, it will die.

So essentially the salt takes away the nutrients from that tree that are important to the growth of the tree.

It also means that you can focus specifically on the tree when applying the salt as well.

Where herbicides can sometimes affect other plants and trees around where you sprayed.

Salt will not do the same thing.

How to spread the salt

The process for spreading the salt to kill your tree is a pretty simple process.

Start by mixing two cups of water with 1 cup of salt.

It doesn’t really matter what kind of salt you use, but you might want to use the cheaper kind.

Mix the two together and then you need to take a drill out to your tree.

Take the drill and drill holes all along the base of the tree.

Once you have the holes drilled, pour the saltwater mixture into the holes until it is all gone.

Then you’ll need to go out every few days and put more saltwater into the holes.

For smaller trees, you might only have to do this for a few weeks, where a bigger tree might take a month or more.

Apply vinegar

Vinegar is another great option if you are looking to kill your tree with herbicides, though it might not be as effective as salt on large trees.

Unlike salt, you apply the vinegar onto the leaves and shoots of the tree.

By doing this, you keep the tree from being able to photosynthesize the rays of the run for the food that the tree needs.

So first you need to purchase white vinegar.

Put the undiluted white vinegar into a spray bottle and then go outside and start spraying the leaves and shoots of the tree.

You may need to do this a few times to make sure you have effectively covered all of the parts of the tree.


Sometimes trees end up in places where you don’t want them.

And hiring someone to come cut the tree down and remove the stump can get rather expensive.

So there are a few options you have to kill the tree without having to hire someone or pay a lot of money.

And avoid the chemicals, if possible.

Your options include girdling the tree, using salt, vinegar, or copper nails.

These are all relatively cheap options and worth giving a try before spending too much money to pay someone to do it.

Bill Lantz

Bill Lantz is a database analyst by day and a weekend warrior by... weekend. He's currently building up his own miniature homestead in Central Utah with his wife and six kids. Some of his interests include knowing random trivia about films, reading history books, and playing video games with the boys.

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