How To Kill A Tree Without Cutting It Down (3 Best Ways)

I get it…sometimes trees need to go because they are a nuisance or could cause serious damage to your property. There is only one problem, someone doesn’t want to see that tree die. Here are the best ways for how to kill a tree without cutting it down.
The best ways to kill a tree without cutting it down is to drill holes in the roots and apply a tree killer, to girdle the tree, or to hammer copper nails into the roots. Warning: damaging other peoples property is against the law. You have to use a tree killer that actually works. Roundup may not kill the tree. Continue reading to learn what tree killers will work every time.
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3 Best Ways To Kill A Tree Without Cutting It Down

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1. Drill Holes In Roots And Apply Tree Killer

This is by far the best way to kill a big tree without cutting it down. There are several ways you could do this. Simply go a couple inches away from the trunk of the tree and drill down through the dirt into the roots.
Usually, you can tell where the major roots are leaving the trunk. Drill holes into the trunk but it’s best to drill holes into the roots is because it’s harder to detect.
If you think you’ll look weird drilling holes in the roots next to a tree here are a few things you could try.
You could be patriotic and drill a hole in the ground and roots for a rebar to hold up a flag on a PVC pipe sticking out of the ground. Often scouts do this for fundraisers. You could also put up a flag on game day of your favorite sports team. That way it looks like you’re just decorating the yard.
Another way you could kill a tree without being detected is to clear the dirt and grass away and put mulch down. After you have dug in the dirt away you could quickly drill a couple holes into some roots.
This is the most important part. Apply a tree killer that will actually kill the tree. Roundup won’t kill every tree. Some of the more resilient trees you need to use a real powerful tree killer. The best tree killer to use is Tordon.  Diesel fuel surprisingly works well and I have heard that 2-4-D works as well. Just make sure to buy the Killzall brand. It has the highest concentration.
Apply the tree killer you selected by pouring some into the roots in the holes that you have drilled. Put your flag poles in the ground or cover up the area with mulch. In a couple days to a couple weeks, the tree should be completely dead.

2. Girdle Tree

Girdling trees was a method used as far back as the Iroquois Indians. They would cut a ring of bark out of the tree all the way around. The tree would die and later they would harvest the dry wood for building their longhouses. Homesteaders adopted this from the Indians and still girdle trees today for harvesting firewood.
Girdling a tree cuts the flow of nutrients from the roots to the trees in the tree will die.  I should say everything above where you girdled the tree at least will die. Some trees are more resilient than others like elm trees. I girdled one of my Elm trees and everything above where I girdled it died but everything below stayed alive.
The problem with girdling a tree is it’s pretty easy to see what you’ve done. So I way to girdle a tree without people knowing is to tether goat around the tree. Goats love to eat leaves and bark. After not too long they will eat the bark around the whole tree thus girdling the tree and killing it.
Just look at all the forms online about people trying to find ways to keep their goats from killing their trees.
This would also work with a horse but not all horses will do this. I had two trees out in the pasture and I cut all the branches on the bottom half of the tree and within a week the horses ate all the bark off completely killed the tree.

3. Copper Nails

I was skeptical when I heard you can kill trees with copper nails. However, I have watched enough YouTube videos and have read enough articles about it that I believe it works. The only problem is it takes over a year to kill the tree.
To kill a tree with copper nails all you need to do is hammer a bunch around the trunk into the live wood. If you want to make it harder to detect then hammer them into the roots.
A way you could do this in plain daylight without being noticed is to mulch the tree. Dig the dirt away from the tree in a big circle. Place weed cloth down and secure the weed cloth with copper nails. Just make sure you hammer a bunch into the roots.
Depending on the tree within a year or so your tree should be dead.
It’s a little tricky trying to kill a tree without cutting it down. However, these three ways are by far the best ways to do it, especially if you’re trying to do it undetected.
Again I am not recommending that you kill someone else’s tree using these methods.  Only do this if you own the tree and don’t want your tree-hugging neighbors to freak out.
If you are interested in learning more ways to kill a tree without anyone knowing including some really funny ideas then check out my article on how to kill a tree without anyone knowing.

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