The more I learn about toxins and how harmful they are to the human body and earth the more I want to go natural in every way I can. I decided to figure out the best ways for how to kill a tree stump naturally.
After months of research, I have compiled 12 ways to kill tree stumps naturally. Most trees will die if you just cut them down. For tree stumps that won’t die this way you can try: sealing stump with a plastic bag, goats (my favorite way), Epsom salts, copper nails, boiling water, anaerobic compost tea, make it a fairy garden, use a tractor, vinegar, rock salt, and burn it. Keep reading to learn all the necessary steps to killing tree stumps naturally with each of these methods.
Here are the 12 best ways to kill a tree without poison or toxic chemicals.
- Black garbage bags
- Epsom salts
- Power drill
- Wood drill bit
- Copper nails
1. Just Cut Down
I put this idea first because most trees will die if you just cut them down. Here is a list of which trees can just be cut down and which ones need to be killed. For example, all conifers, pines and maple trees can just be cut down and remove the stump and the stump roots and all will die.
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If your tree has already been cut down and the stump and roots are still alive here are nine more ways to kill tree stumps organically or without chemicals.
2. How To Kill A Tree Stump With A Plastic Bag
A friend who is permaculture certified told me he has effectively killed his elm trees by cutting down to a stump and sealing with a plastic bag. I recently tried this on a tree and I can’t wait to see if it worked.
What you do is cut your tree down to a stump and cover it with black plastic. I just used a black plastic garbage bag and then I sealed it on the tree stump by duck taping the bag around the trunk. I am not sure exactly how this actually kills tree stumps. My best bet is that it is either suffocation or the heat from the sun that kills the tree stump.
If you have a tree stump that is still alive you would basically do the same thing except you need to fresh cut the stump. Meaning cut below where the suckers are shooting out. Then seal the fresh cut stump with a plastic bag and duck tape.
3. How To Kill A Tree Stump With Goats
This is my favorite way to kill a stubborn tree stump. If you don’t already have a goat go buy or borrow one.
Goats make great pets especially if you get them as newborns and bottle feed them. They will imprint on you. I had a pygmy goat named Frodo as a kid and he imprinted on me and he would follow me around, come when called and he would even chase people when I told him to. He was one of my favorite pets I ever had.
The reason goats are great stump killers is because they are browsers, not grazers like cows and sheep. Browsers favorite food are leaves, bushes, and trees. If you tie your goat up on a rope next to the stump or put a fence around it any stump will die.
Every time the tree stump sends up new shoots the goats will eat it down. They will often even eat the bark.
Really hardy trees like an elm or a Russian olive tree with try to send up shoots about three times and then it will give up. It should only take a few months and that stump will never come back. Once it doesn’t send up shoots anymore go ahead and remove the stump.
You could probably use a horse to kill a tree this way as well. If you didn’t want to get an animal to do it you could try doing it yourself by continually cutting off all the branches that come up and it should eventually die. It would just be a lot more work.
4. Removing Tree Stumps with A Tractor
You can always use a tractor or a backhoe and just dig the whole tree roots and all out of the ground. If you dig down deep enough then the tree roots shouldn’t come back up.
This can be a costly way to kill a tree stump organically but if you have the equipment or know someone who does this is a really fast way to kill a tree naturally.
5. Anaerobic Compost Tea
I have been learning a lot about compost tea and how you can use it to introduce good microbes into the soil to heal it. Elaine Ingram says you if you don’t do it right you can make some pretty toxic stuff that will kill your plants.
The good microbes thrive in aerobic conditions which means there is plenty of oxygen. Anaerobic is when there is no oxygen. It is pretty easy to make bad compost tea. Just get a bucket of water. If you have city water then you need to let it sit for a day to let all the chlorine evaporate out of the water.
Then take some compost and put it in your dechlorinated bucket of water. Let it sit for a day or two and then pour it onto your fresh cut tree stump. Pour it around the roots as well.
Basically, you will have brewed up a bucket of good fungi and bacteria killers. They will kill the good guys and the tree should start starving to death. Hey, it might not work but it’s worth a shot.
6. How To Kill A Tree Stump With Epsom Salts
So I read a lot about how people have killed tree stumps with Epsom salts and I actually tried this but it didn’t work on my stumps. I did everything you were supposed to do.
First I fresh cut the stump, cut it down where the tree was alive still. Then I drilled a ton of holes deep into the stump. I filled all the holes with Epsom salts and covered it with a tarp and let it sit for several months.
I actually forgot about it and when back and I saw sucker branches shooting up out of the stump just a little lower. That’s what I did but it doesn’t mean it won’t work for you.
One step I have heard about is you are supposed to soak the stump with water once a week but that takes way too much time in my book but you could try that as well. I was killing elm trees so maybe Epsom salts will kill your tree. There is only one way to find out.
7. How To Kill A Tree Stump With Rock Salt
The nice part about using Epsom salts versus rock salt is that Epsom salt is actually is good for your plants. Rock salt is not. Maybe if I would have used rock salt instead of Epsom salts my tree stump would have died.
You follow the same steps, cut the stump, drill holes, fill with rock salt, and cover with a tarp.
The only difference is you would need to drill bigger holes because rock salt is usually in pretty big chunks. You could also get a salt block and put on top. The only problem is it will attract deer if they are close by.
I know killing a tree with salt will work if you use enough salt the only problem is you might never be able to grow anything there again unless you mulch it and treat it with some good compost tea.
8. How To Kill A Tree Stump With Copper Nails
I have read enough places that copper nails do kill trees but it just takes a long time like over a year. If you have time for the copper nails to slowly poison your stump then go for it. I haven’t tried this yet because I don’t want to wait a year to see if it actually works. I’ll just use goats.
To kill a tree stump with copper nails all you do is hammer a ring of nails around the stump into the live tissue of the tree. Then just wait and your tree stump should slowly get poisoned and die in the next year or so.
9. How To Kill A Tree Stump With Boling Water
So I have read about this working but I am skeptical if it will actually work. The steps are fresh cut your tree stump and then pour boiling hot water on the fresh cut stump. It sounds like torture to me but it may work so give it a shot and let me know.
Supposedly the heat from the water will kill the tree. I just don’t see this working. My thoughts are if anyone actually tried this the tree probably died from cutting it down.
10. How To Kill A Tree Stump With Vinegar
I have heard that people that have killed their tree on accident using vinegar so it may work on a tree stump. Follow the same steps as I have mentioned previously.
Fresh cut the stump, drill holes around the outer ring of the stump and fill with vinegar. I would just use white distilled vinegar because it’s the cheapest. See if that does the trick.
11. How To Kill A Tree Stump With Fire
So there are a couple of problems to killing a tree stump with fire. First of all the tree is still alive. Wet wood doesn’t burn too well. So here is how I would kill a tree stump with fire.
Depending on where you live, like the city or country, you could make a big bonfire with the stump at the bottom and there will be enough heat to burn off all the water and the stump. Always make sure to contact the fire department because the last thing you want is a couple of fire trucks rushing to your house.
The other method is to use a burn barrel. Cut the bottom out of a metal 55-gallon drum. Place the barrel over the stump and fill with wood or charcoal and light it up.
Your tree may survive the fire treatment but you can always repeat and roast some hot dogs and marshmallows. After a few burnings, your tree stump should die.
12. Make Your Tree Stump A Fairy Garden
Fairy gardens are the rage these days. You can cut out the center of the stump, add some potting soil and plant some flowers and put a couple of fairies in it. Eventually, the stump should rot but if not it will add to the cool fairy garden look. You will have the most magical fairy garden in town.
I will be adding to this list as I experiment and learn of more ways for how to kill trees naturally. I am sure I am just scratching the surface. You would be amazed at everyone I tell about this site has their own way of killing trees.
Eventually, I am sure I’ll find even better ideas for how to kill a tree organically. That way you don’t have to use toxic chemicals to kill your tree stump.