How To Kill And Remove A Willow Tree (Completely)


Looking for how to kill a willow tree?

Willow Trees are great because they grow really fast but because of the fast growth, they are a messy tree and can even drop whole branches in a heavy wind storm. 

Here are the steps for killing and removing a willow tree completely so it doesn’t grow back.

Start by cutting off the willow tree’s branches so you are left with a stump. Larger branches may need to be cut in multiple chunks. Treat the stump with a tree killer immediately after cutting for best results or the tree will grow back. Apply tree killer to the outer ring so the roots will absorb the poison. After a few days remove the stump.

That’s the basics but for a few more details including my favorite tree killer that works every time keep reading.

(Hint, not all tree killers actually kill willow trees.)

Step 1 – Cut The Tree Down

Willow trees are a bit unique because they don’t have one trunk going straight up; they can have multiple large branches coming off the main trunk. 

That being said, to cut the tree down you should start cutting off the closest branches to the ground.

Depending on the size of your willow tree, larger branches may need to be cut off in a few chucks, especially if the tree is close to your house or structure that could be damaged by falling limbs.

Use a ladder or rent a boom to get high enough in the tree to cut branches in smaller chunks.

Make sure to take all necessary safety precautions. There is a reason that Tree Removal is one of the most dangerous professions.

After all the branches are cut off you should be left with a tall stump. At this point you need to determine how you will be removing the stump. 

If you are going to pull out the stump you want to leave the trunk tall so you can have more leverage.

If you are planning on burning or grinding the stump out then continue cutting the trunk off as low as you can without getting your chainsaw in the dirt.

I’ll talk about a few of my favorite ways to remove the stump in a few more steps but first we need to kill the stump or it will grow back.

Step 2 – Treat The Stump

A Willow is a resistant tree, so just cutting it down won’t kill it completely. 

If you skip this step or do it too late, the tree might grow up from the stump again or unseen roots may keep sending up shoots. So follow the next steps closely.

If you are opposed to using chemicals then I have a few natural ways you can kill the tree as well.

Make sure you’re ready for this before you finish cutting it down because you have a 30 minute window to treat your stump with a tree killer to ensure its demise. 

Okay. Get your tree killer (I recommend Tordon because it actually works on willows.) and pour it on the entire outer ring of the stump.

Generally, you should cover the outer 3 inches with a tree killer. You can tell the difference between that ring and the rest because the core wood will be a bit darker than the rest. 

Let the stump sit and soak in the tree killer for the next few days to a week to fully kill the tree. From there, we can move onto Step 3 and remove the stump.

Step 3 – Remove The Stump

Now that we know the tree is dead, we can remove the stump from the ground, and as long as you followed the last step, nothing should come up again. 

There’s a number of different ways you can remove the stump, but here a just a few different ways I would suggest: 

  • Grind the stump. This is probably the best way but it also can be the most expensive. You can hire it out or rent a stump grinder. It may be cheaper to hire it out than it is to rent a stump grinder so go here if you want to get a bid from a tree stump removal expert in your area. 
  • Pull it out. If you have a tractor of some kind or a 4 wheel drive vehicle this can work well. Depending on the size of your tree of course. Larger willows will need to have the roots dug up and cut before pulling out. Smaller willows can just be pulled out. Use a chain or a heavy-duty tow strap and connect to the top so you have the most leverage. 
  • Burn the stump. Make sure it’s dead and dry, and in a safe area first. It can take a couple of months for a tree to dry completely depending on your climate or time of year. Once it is dry build a fire on your stump and have a hot dog roast. 
  • The cheapest and easy way.  If you are not opposed to a little physical labor then this is a great option. Dig around the stump about 8 inches deep. Use your chainsaw to cut the stump a few inches below the surface. Really as long as the stump can have a few inches of soil on top you can plant grass over the top and let Mother Nature do the rest.
  • If you want more ways to remove a stump then here is a full list of all the best ways to get this done.

That is the 3 steps to killing and removing a willow tree. If you have more questions about how to kill or get rid of a willow tree, keep reading to some of the most commonly asked questions.

Will Salt Kill Willow Trees?

Salt may be able to kill a Willow Tree but it takes a lot of salt.

I tried killing an elm tree with salt and it didn’t actually kill the tree. I had to end up using a tree killer like Tordon to finish the tree off.

Technically, I think salt would kill a willow tree if you poured salt on top of the ground in a complete ring around how big the tree was but then it is going to kill everything else there as well and that would be pretty expensive.

In my experience, salt doesn’t work and is not really worth it.

Will Copper Nails Kill A Willow Tree?

I have tested copper nails but I am doubtful if it really will kill a willow tree.

Many of the ways you read about online for killing trees don’t actually work on resilient trees like Willows.

That is why I decided to get to the bottom of what actually kills trees and what doesn’t.

The funny thing is that most trees don’t need to be treated to be killed.

For example, a pine tree will die if you just cut it down.

I think where copper nails and a lot of these other wives’ tales came about was from people putting copper nails into a pine stump and then magically it worked.

Well, that pine tree would have died without the copper nails.

Will A Willow Tree Grow Back From A Stump?

Yes a Willow Tree will most definitely grow back from a stump. That is why you have to treat the Willow Tree stump with a tree killer on a fresh cut.

It won’t take too long before you will have a willow bush if you don’t treat it before cutting it down.

How To Kill A Willow Tree Stump?

If you made the mistake of not treating a willow stump after cutting it down you can still kill the stump.

The best way is to take a chainsaw and make a fresh cut below where all the branches are coming out of the stump.

Within 30 minutes of cutting treat the outer ring of the stump with a tree killer like Tordon.

Let it sit for a couple days and your stump will be completely dead roots and all.

If you are interested in a natural way just tie a goat around the stump for a couple of months and that will work as well.

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