How To Kill Unwanted Trees And Saplings

Guide to tips concerning cost-effective removal of dead or dying trees. How-to tree removal, preventive maintenance and responsible gardening.

Everyone loves a tree. Trees provide shade, create a breeze on a summer day, provide housing for birds and squirrels, and add nothing but happiness to our neighborhoods and homes. That is, of course, unless that lovely old swamp oak is beginning to grow roots that are threatening your home's water system. That big shade tree with the swaying branches is dropping sap and twigs onto your brand new automobile, and termites are eating up that lovely chestnut tree. What to do?

Different towns and villages have different ordinances for the removal of dead or dying trees. For example, the town that I live in will remove a tree that is dead, obstructing the view of traffic, or lifting the sidewalk due to overgrown roots. After the tree is removed, however, the burden of fixing the sidewalk is passed to the homeowner. This can cause strife between neighbors, none of which will ever claim ownership of the tree. Furthermore, all parties involved (in cases where the tree actually spans two or more properties) must agree, otherwise there is a year-long wait, during which time no one can sue you for tripping on the sidewalk in front of your property. All things considered, it is undoubtedly easier to kill the tree, and deal with the removal and repair after the fact.

Let's examine some extermination methods.

One method recommended for large trees involves using a drill. Drill a dozen or so ½ inch or bigger holes around the base of the tree on a 45 degree angle. Pour undiluted Roundup (a vegetation remover which happens to work great!) into each of the holes.



For smaller trees, cut a ring around the trunk, half an inch to an inch deep, spray Roundup into the groove. The tree should die within the week.

Another method is "˜girdling' the tree. This involves removing the bark, about a foot of it, around the middle of the trunk. This method is known to work on Oak, poplar, and pine, especially helpful if tree is to be used for firewood, as the tree can be more easily removed and dried if it is dead when taken down.

Copper nails inserted in trees have mixed reports attached. There are some, like my landscaper, who swear by the method, and others who say the only way it works is by allowing fungus to enter the tree. In any case, as long as the end result is the same, I say it's worth a try. All accounts of this method advise using large copper nails, and as many of them as possible.

Still another method is the salt method. This is particularly good for stump removal. Note: If you are worried about the soil surrounding the stump, this method is not advised. Simple drill holes into either the base of the tree or roots, if exposed. Fill the holes with KOSHER salt (the coarse kind), cover stump or base of tree with aluminum foil, and give it a week or two. Favorable results have been reported using this method.

The methods prescribed here are for trees that are either unhealthy, overgrown, or dangerous. By no means is tree-killing a substitute for responsible gardening. Be aware of saplings taking root in your garden, especially oak, which roots easily in almost any type of soil. Weed your garden regularly, and hopefully, these methods will never become an option for you.

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