Why You Should Use Salt To Kill Your Trees

There are many great options out there for killing your annoying trees.

And using salt is one of those options.

There are a few great reasons to use salt to kill your trees and those include pricing, ease of use, the time it takes, and you can avoid herbicides.

Read on to find out the reason why you might want to use salt to kill your trees.

Why does salt work?

If you’ve ever had a garden or tried to grow grass in your yard, you should always start off by getting your soil tested to make sure there is the correct pH balance.

If the balance is off, especially if there is too much salt, then nothing can grow in your yard.

The same is true when you are considering your trees.

Trees won’t grow in soil that has too much salt.

It is also true that trees will die if they are buried or covered in too much salt.

According to AskingLot.com:

Using salt is an effective way to kill a tree. The sodium in salt will prevent a tree’s flow of potassium and magnesium, both of which are vital ingredients in the making of chlorophyll. You can simply make a line of salt around the tree, and it will die. However, most everything around the tree will die as well.


So it is such an effective tree killer that you need to be careful of what you put the salt on.

Why use salt


Besides being an effective way to kill trees, salt is also a relatively inexpensive option to kill your trees, depending on the kind of salt you purchase.

And you don’t need expensive salt to kill your tree.

For example, you can use this Epsom salt, which is under $10 for 26 ounces of salt.

Or you can use some rock salt like this, which is 25 pounds.

The more salt, in this case, the merrier.

Either way, you are looking at a pretty inexpensive option.

Ease of use

As mentioned previously in this article, we talked about how salt kills trees.

In the case of ease of use, you can use a little bit of salt or you can use a lot of salt.

A little bit of salt doesn’t guarantee that you will kill the tree but might get you a good start.

More salt will give you some headway into starting the tree in the right direction of dying.

All it takes is a few holes in the tree and then filling them with salt.

But we will cover this more later in the blog.


There are many different ways to kill trees, which include the following:

  1. Girdling or frilling
  2. Herbicide
  3. Seal stump with plastic
  4. Cut down and remove the tree

None of these are going to kill your trees right away.

Granted neither is the salt going to do it.

But, from my reading, salt can take somewhere between 6 to 12 months for the tree to be killed.

This is a little bit faster than some of the other options, including using copper nails or motor oil, which can take a year or more to kill your trees.

So comparatively, this is pretty good.

Avoid using herbicides

There are many reasons to avoid using herbicides to kill your trees.

According to the Fish and Wildlife Service:

Persistent herbicides can remain active in the environment for long periods of time, potentially causing soil and water contamination and adverse effects to nontarget organisms. In some cases, compounds that result from herbicide degradation may continue to be significantly toxic in the environment.


If you use herbicides to get rid of your trees, or on any other plants for that matter, you have to consider that it is going to be in your soil for quite some time.

So if you are trying to get rid of your tree because you want to plant something else there, you are actually damaging the soil for the next thing you plant.

And that next thing, whatever it is, is going to have to fight against the herbicide to survive in the soil.

Another reason to avoid herbicides is because of the side effects they might have on you.

According to Sciencing.com:

Chemical herbicides pose health dangers for everyone from field workers to people who buy food grown using these chemicals. Exposure to herbicides causes skin irritation, while inhaling these chemicals irritates the throat and nasal passages. Herbicide exposure is also linked to non-Hodgkin lymphoma, reports the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides, and even birth defects in unborn babies.


When you apply herbicides around your yard, they typically ask you to use gloves while you do it, as exposure to your skin can cause severe irritation.

But that doesn’t take into account that you might accidentally inhale the herbicides.

And getting that herbicide into your body can irritate your throat and nasal passages.

This can also cause different types of cancers in your body.

This also doesn’t take into account what happens if you eat food with herbicides on it.

For example, people usually wipe off their apples for potential wax that is applied to the fruit.

But it can also help with any herbicides that are on them.

We were fortunate enough growing up we had a pear and apple tree in our yard where we got to enjoy the fruit a few times a year.

And instead of using harmful herbicides, we had a neighbor that would spray our trees with some natural oils to keep the bugs away.

We always got to enjoy the tasty apples and pears and not have to worry about what was on the fruit.

So overall, for the health of your soil and for yourself and your family, it is better to stay away from the herbicides so there are no long-term effects.

How to use salt

Now that we’ve covered why you should use salt, we now need to talk about how to use salt to kill your trees.

  1. The first step you need to take is to purchase a lot of salt. We were able to find a pretty good deal at our local Costco for Epsom salt. We like Epsom salt in this situation because it is relatively inexpensive and is easy to use. You can also purchase salt at either of the links I shared previously in this article (found here and here).
  2. Next, cut your tree down so you just have the stump. This process with the salt won’t work if you still have the whole tree standing, so you need to cut it down. If the tree is short enough, you should be able to cut it down on your own. If it is taller than a story or two, it is better to call a professional to cut it down (better safe than sorry).
  3. Get a good wood drill bit. The wider the better. Put this drill bit into your drill and attach a battery if you have a cordless drill. Then go to the stump and drill a bunch of holes in it. I would recommend a whole every few inches along the outside rim of the stump. Also make sure to drill holes on the inside rim of the stump.
  4. Put salt all along the top of the stump. Put salt in the holes, though you don’t need to fill up the holes with salt. Make sure to sprinkle it along the top of the stump as well. Then wet down the hole stump with water. Spraying the stump with water will activate the salt and allow the salt to start taking the moisture out of the stump (which is the process that will kill the tree.
  5. Then get a tarp and cover up the stump with the tarp. Weigh the sides of the stump down with rocks so it stays in place. Keeping the tarp is place is important because if it rains, the rain can wash away the salt off of the stump. With the tarp staying in place, the salt will be able to stay in place as well.
  6. Repeat the process every few weeks. This is because the salt will eventually lose some of its potency. So take the tarp off, cover the stump with salt, get it wet, and cover it with the tarp again.

Keep in mind that using salt isn’t the fastest way to kill your trees.

If you want to kill it fast, use herbicide or spend the money to hire someone to pull the tree out of the ground.

But on the flip side, salt is inexpensive.

So if you have some time and not a lot of money, salt is the way for you to go.


Salt is a great option for killing your trees.

Most people have some salt laying around their house and some people even have a bunch in their food storage.

This makes it a good option to use for killing your trees.

It is also very easy to use.

You can also use it to avoid using herbicide and wondering how that is going to affect your soil and whatever else you might want to grow in the yard.

The two downsides are that it takes time for the salt to kill the tree and also the number of times you have to go out to the tree to apply more salt.

And if you use salt, you should be pretty happy with the results.

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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