Copper nails kill trees how long

Will Copper Nails Kill A Tree?

Can you kill a tree with copper nails? The answer is yes, but only when you do it correctly.

Many homeowners have trees in their yard that are an eyesore or cause a mess, but the cost or their location makes them difficult to cut down.

Using copper nails to slowly poison and kill the tree will make removing it from your property much more manageable.

To learn more about copper’s effect on trees and the best steps to killing a tree with copper nails, you only need to read and follow the guide below, so let’s begin!

Does Copper Kill Trees?

Copper can kill plants, including trees, if there is enough contact between the copper and the plant cells.

Most people find driving copper nails into a tree is much cleaner and easier than drilling holes and pouring in sulfate to kill off a tree.

Copper damages the tree cells enough to prevent them from working properly, which keeps fluids and nutrients flowing through the tree’s roots, trunk, branches, and leaves. This reaction leads to the leaves turning brown and stopping the critical photosynthesis process that any plant needs to survive.

How copper damages cells is through oxidation. This process is when copper material reacts with moisture and oxygen inside the tree trunk, making compounds like CuO, CuO₂, Cu₂O, and Cu₂O₃.

These resulting chemicals are toxic and severely damage the tree’s growth cells. After several weeks or months, the copper toxicity will eventually kill off the tree.

Can Copper Nails Kill A Tree?

Many people claim it’s a myth you can kill a tree using copper nails, but this is false.

The damaging effects of copper on a tree’s roots, bark, growth cells, and leaves combine to ruin its ability to uptake and move nutrients through the trunk and branches and leaves to provide photosynthesis.

The issue is that most people think you can pound a single nail in any part of a tree trunk or tree stump, and it will magically die within a month. But unfortunately, one nail will not kill even a small tree, so trying this with a big tree will not work.

The truth is that you’ll need to use many copper nails to cause a tree to die.

In addition, you’ll also need to place the nails in the correct location on the tree as well as ensure they are deep enough to penetrate through the outer bark and into the phloem and the cambium cell layer, which grows new bark and moves nutrients up and down the tree.

Another reason you may not have success killing a tree with copper nails is that the tree is just too large. Either the nails don’t penetrate the inner bark, or they aren’t plentiful enough to damage enough growth cells to kill the tree.

Most experts suggest using copper nails on trees with trunks no more than 6-8 inches in diameter for the quickest results. However, if you correctly insert copper nails into the trunk of a large tree, it could take a year or longer for it to die.

How Many Copper Nails To Kill A Tree

If you’re looking to kill a tree with copper nails, you’ll need to purchase the correct size and amount to get the job done.

Measure the circumference of the tree as close to the base of the trunk as possible. You’ll need enough copper nails to place one every half-inch around the tree trunk.

For example, a tree with a 20-inch circumference will need about 40 copper nails. Make sure you purchase pure copper nails or spikes and not a product that is only copper plated.

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You’ll need the nails to be at least three inches long for most tree sizes, but more length is better as it imparts more copper into the tree that will oxidize and create damage.

A thicker copper nail is also better than a thin one.

Steps To Kill A Tree Using Copper Nails

Follow these easy steps to use copper nails to kill trees on your property that are causing you issues:

Step 1: Hammer Nails Into The Tree

Start as close to the tree’s base as possible, and pound in copper nails every half-inch until you circle the entire trunk. Then, if you have enough nails, feel free to move up about a foot and repeat another circle of copper nails.

By placing nails at the base of the trunk, you’re putting the damage of the oxidizing copper closer to the root system, which will hasten the death of the tree.

Step 2: Have Patience

It can take anywhere from two months to a couple of years for a tree to die from copper toxicity. So, the more copper you can get into the tree, the faster you’ll see the results.

If you don’t like your tree’s appearance with the copper nails embedded, you can paint over the tops of the nailheads. Choosing a tan or grey paint color will make the nails blend in with the trunk.

Step 3: Use Caution When Removing The Dead Tree

Never use a chainsaw on a tree you killed using copper nails until you mark where the nails are so you can avoid them. If you hit the nails with powerful tools, they can shoot out and cause injury or even death to the person working the equipment.

It isn’t uncommon for tree bark to grow over nail heads, which can make them hard to find and remove after the tree is dead, so make a note of where you put nails so you can stay clear of that portion of the tree when it’s time to cut it down and remove it.

Do Copper Nails Kill Tree Stumps?

If you have a tree stump that wants to keep regrowing, pounding it with long copper nails or spikes will cause it to die out and rot away.

The process can take several weeks to months to occur, and you’ll want to use the same technique of placing nails close together in a circle around the stump.

Another tactic to kill a tree stump is to use copper sulfate. You can go around the stump base, drilling holes at a downward angle as deep and as wide as you can. A 1/2 to 1-inch drill bit that is six inches long is a good size for this method.

Drill holes around the stump every three inches. Using a funnel, fill each drill hole with copper sulfate.

To cover the copper sulfate so rain doesn’t wash it away, pack the top of the hole with mud or candle wax.

Another great tip to help speed up the death of a tree stump is to pound several copper pipe sections into the ground around the roots near the tree’s base.

With copper nails in the trunk and copper pipe in the ground, you’re adding more stress that will stunt cell reproduction and growth, so the tree dies faster.

In Summary

Will copper nails kill a tree? Yes, copper nails can inhibit the function of tree development and damage roots, leaves, cells, and stems, leading to eventual death.

However, using copper nails to kill trees is best for smaller trunks, and you must use enough nails in the proper position for them to be effective.

I hope using the tips above helps you master killing trees with copper nails, so you can easily eliminate the ones causing problems in your yard!

Can You Use Copper Nails to Kill A Tree?

People have been using copper nails to kill trees for quite some time. But there is a lot of confusion regarding whether this technique is effective or not. And if it is, then what is the correct method of using it.

Should copper nails be preferred over other killing techniques? Let’s Find out!

It is not scientifically proven that copper nails are effective to kill a tree. To test this theory out, you have to hammer the copper nails into the trunk, base, stump, or roots of the tree but this process can take a really long time to show any results. It is also not certain how many copper nails are necessary and if it will show any results or not.

If you need to remove a tree from your property or trim it, you can use our form on the services page to get estimates for the job.

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How Long Does It Take to Kill A Tree with Copper Nails?

Although copper nails can be used to kill a tree, it is not a very effective method of doing so. Using copper nails is not a sure-shot method of killing trees, usually, they don’t work, especially if you are dealing with a really large tree.

Small trees and plants can be killed using copper nails but even then, it can take anywhere from 4-5 months to up to a year to effectively kill them. Large trees, on the other hand, can take multiple years to die, and that is, even if they die.

Some trees like monocots, which include palm trees will take even more time and more copper nails to die.

How Many Copper Nails Are Needed to Kill A Tree?

The number of copper nails it takes to effectively kill a tree is a point of contention among a lot of people. There is no exact number here, the answer largely depends on the size and the kind of tree you are dealing with.

Small to medium-sized trees can be killed using up to 10-15 copper nails while it can be a lot more if you are dealing with a large tree. If you don’t see any results within 5 months of using copper nails, you have to use more to get the job done.

Some sources state that the distance between the copper nails should be about ½ inch. So for a tree with a circumference of 2. 5 feet, it can take up to 200 nails to effectively kill it. Although this point is not proven, it does give you a ballpark range about the number of nails it will take to kill a large tree.

Copper nails need to be long enough to reach the inner layer of the tree. This is where copper nails can start poisoning the entire tree through its vascular system. The ideal length of the copper nails should be 2-3 inches long.

Where Do You Put Copper Nails to Kill A Tree?

Using copper nails for killing a tree is one of the easiest methods out there. You simply need a hammer and some 100% pure copper nails. In case it works.

To test this out, hammer the nails into the trunk, base, and roots of the tree and that’s it! You only need to wait for a few months and look out for results.

Will Copper Nails Kill A Tree Stump and The Root System?

Yes, they will! The only drawback is that it can take a really long time for them to be effective. If you want to get rid of the stump or the tree quickly, using copper nails is not the ideal method for doing so.

If you are looking for more surefire ways to kill trees, read my article about What Kills Trees Quickly.

Why Do Copper Nails Kill A Tree?

Copper nails kill a tree basically due to the oxidation of copper into other compounds like CuO, CuO2, etc. which act as poison for the tree. The concentration of these compounds needs to be at least 30 parts per million to be effective. This is why it can take a lot of nails to effectively kill a tree with copper nails.

If the tree is small, go for it, but if you do not have time to play around, depending on the species, choose a better method for doing so. I have a plethora of articles on how to kill different tree species.

What Kind of Nails Will Kill A Tree?

Make sure you are using 100% copper nails. There are a lot of nails in the market which is made up of some kind of copper alloys or other mixtures.

The nails also need to at least pierce the cambium of the tree, so make sure they are at least 2-3 inches long.

Does A Rusty Nail Kill A Tree?

There doesn’t seem to be any consensus among the agricultural community regarding this point. Although it is the oxidated by-products of copper that cause the most harm and rust technically is copper oxide as well.

However, If we talk about regular iron nails, I have never seen regular rusty nails kill or even slightly harm a tree.

Is Using Copper Nails to Kill A Tree Better for The Environment?

Yes, they are, using herbicides, salt, Epsom salt, diesel, motor oil, or any other chemicals that can affect the surrounding vegetation and organisms.

Regular chemicals can also leave long-lasting effects on the soil if used in large quantities. Using copper nails on the other hand only requires you to hammer them into the tree, and hope that it works.

If you do not want to harm the environment, and copper nails do not seem to work, here are a couple of natural homemade recipes for tree-killing.

Is It Recommended to Use Copper Nails to Kill A Tree?

No, it is not! the amount of time and the number of copper nails it can take ends up making this method quite inefficient.

Although it is better for the environment, using herbicides or other chemicals to kill a few trees will end up being much more efficient and effective.

Small doses of herbicides dissipate quite quickly so even the environmental dangers are small.


Copper nails are not an effective or efficient method of killing trees. They can take a really long time to show any results and there is no clarity regarding how many nails will you need.


I am the guy behind I grew up on a homestead and I am here to share the knowledge I have and things I learn while living in the countryside.

They say that a tree can be destroyed if a large copper nail or copper pin is driven into the trunk. Has anyone tried this? — Discuss

They say that a tree can be destroyed if a large copper nail or a copper pin is hammered into the trunk. Has anyone tried this? — Discuss


They say that a tree can be destroyed if a large copper nail or copper pin is driven into the trunk. Has anyone tried this? wood nail trunk pin





Leonid Shestakov

I read in a reprint edition of advice to gardeners and gardeners ..... there was an example that I actually tried ... it was said that if a fruit tree, say a peach, suddenly dropped its leaves in the middle of summer, then you need to break through (with a nail , pin ...) the trunk to the core and insert a tube from a vessel filled with 3% saline or sea water there ... I managed to reanimate the peach ...


Elvina Maday

I didn’t try, but I saw how the trees tied with wire continued to grow, and the wire grew inside and didn’t kill, but looking at this, you think that a person doesn’t think about anything, spoiling nature, and in spite of everything, it grows fragile flower through the asphalt.


Alexander Taran

Nonsense! The technique (to scare a tree) has long been known and widely used. If a tree does not bear fruit well, or does not bear fruit at all, you need to shout at it, threaten to cut it down for firewood and hammer in a few nails. The result will be amazing - I checked it myself.


Svetlana Nauman

yes it is, you can ruin it, but if the apple tree does not bear fruit, then you can drive a nail, but not deep and say at the same time, there will be no apples, you will have to remove you, this is done in the spring, there will be apples, she did it herself



We did it! Our pear did not give a harvest for several years, my husband hammered nails into it, it began to bear fruit . .. Only not copper nails, but ordinary iron ones. The tree lacked iron.


Natalia Tatarchuk

Why give such a "guide" to action?! After all, not everyone will understand! Someone (tra-ta-ta) will take it and do it!!!



So what? This is what everyone needs to know. It is often necessary to cut down a tree, but it is either not possible or not legally allowed.



I know about the apple tree from experience: if you drive in a steel nail, it will bear fruit better....


Vitaly Bugriev

Only for the good. Don't listen to anyone. Like Mueller, I can be trusted.



I tried, now I'm waiting for the results.


Vitaly Bugriev

Everything will be fine



It is possible that copper oxide is being formed! And he is very harmful!


Matushkin Bratukha

haven’t heard) but it’s a good attempt to swindle people into copper))



This is not the case.


Svetlana Shagova

Salt, oil working out, at the root, I heard about the pin


Nuria Akylova

Why torture a tree? Just out of curiosity?



To torment, not to torment.


Nuria Akylova




Well done.


Evgeny Timofeev

yes! only iron nails are driven into the apple tree!




If you peel off the bark, then you can destroy



Have you tried it?




I know



And how long will it dry?




But I don’t know this)



Why do such nonsense?


Cecilia Sadchikova

Why? And where to get such a nail?



If it is not possible to cut down


Cecilia Sadchikova

That's how they do it!


Lilya Zalyaletdinova

Is there a more positive question?



there are others



no. .. a hand would not have been raised..


Ivan Bondar

fruit will definitely disappear.


Alexander Titov

All copper was handed over to Chemet!


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when and how to do it right


  • 1 Why drive nails
  • 2 How to drive nails
  • 3 Should you drive nails

Gardeners have at their disposal a wide variety of mechanical devices for working on their plot, as well as ready-to-use vitamins, fertilizers, top dressings and stimulants. But until quite recently, people used exclusively their own knowledge, skills and the opportunities that nature gave them. Some secrets are passed down from generation to generation. Sometimes they can seem a little strange, but they all work. For example, some people hammer nails into an apple tree.

Why drive in nails

Any plant is actually a living being. Gardeners note that even their pets understand human speech. If you swear at a tree or a bush, tell it that if it does not bear fruit, then it will be cut down and a new one will be planted, the reaction follows almost immediately.

A woman will come up to a cherry tree and say: “What are you, ungrateful, I water you, and buy fertilizers and spray, and take care of you. And for the last 3 years you haven’t given me a single normal berry in return. I'll probably have to cut you down." What happens at 9cases out of 10? The following year, the cherry gives an unprecedented harvest.

Nails from the same category. If you drive them into a tree, the plant will respond to this with a wonderful harvest. Why this happens is not known for sure. Perhaps the plants perceive such an impact as an attempt to destroy and try to give as much harvest as possible, leaving behind offspring, or iron stimulates the apple tree to bear fruit, or maybe the tree reacts to stress in this way.

We learned about this method simply. There was an apple tree on the plot that had ceased to bear fruit. It did not dry, it bloomed every year, but practically did not give fruit. They wanted to cut it down, but then they decided to use it as a support, driving in nails and hanging ordinary clotheslines on them. The next year, the results were amazing. The owners have never seen such a harvest.


Nails should be large and preferably rusty. They say the rustier the nails, the better the result.

How to drive in nails

According to the advice of experienced gardeners, you can only drive nails into an apple tree that has not fruited for more than 3 years, but at the same time it is well leafy and actively blooms. The tree must be at least 6 years old.

Drive them in to a depth of 2-3 cm at an angle of about 45 degrees. The first at a height of about 70 cm from the ground, and the next two at a height of 30 cm from each other. In some ways, this procedure is similar to the process of extracting birch sap. Only wooden pegs are not driven into the trunk.

Nailing should be carried out either in early spring, when the tree can still gather all its strength and put them into fruit formation, or in late autumn, almost before frost, in order to get the result for the next year

Even if you use rusty nails, you must observe sterility, so as not to bring the infection into the tree and not destroy it.

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