How to destroy trees using chemicals

What Chemical Will Kill a Tree? [4 Best Products]

Tordon is one of the best tree-killing herbicides on the market. By making cuts in a tree’s bark and treating the cuts with Tordon, the chemical will kill even large trees in a matter of weeks. Alternatively, you can kill smaller trees and brush by spraying their leaves with Crossbow, a powerful brush-killing herbicide. Other options include spraying the bottom 12 inches (30 cm) of bark with Triclopyr-based herbicide or injecting concentrated Roundup into holes drilled in the tree trunk.

Table of Contents

What is the Best Chemical to Kill a Large Tree?

The most effective herbicide for killing large trees is Tordon. Most other chemical herbicides are designed to kill small trees and brush, but Tordon can kill larger trees than its competitors. The most effective method for using Tordon to kill trees is to use it as a cut-surface treatment. This means it should be applied to cuts in the bark or holes drilled into a tree. It’s one of our top choices for killing trees without cutting them down.

  • This Tordon tree killer is the best product for killing large trees.
  • Apply Tordon to cuts or holes made in tree bark to kill large trees.
  • Paint Tordon on cut stumps to kill tree roots and prevent unwanted trees from growing back.

In addition to killing large trees, Tordon is also the best product for treating stumps to make sure the tree does not grow back. Within 30 minutes of cutting down a tree, paint Tordon in a ring along the top of the cut tree stump. The herbicide will work down to the tree roots, killing them. This prevents unwanted trees from sending up new plants from the roots.

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4 Ways to Kill a Tree With Chemicals

Tree removal can be a difficult process. Systemic herbicides help to decrease this work by killing trees quickly. Trees and brush are often much easier to remove once they’re dead. Here are the best methods and products for killing trees quickly with herbicide:

Cut-Bark Method

Nothing beats the cut-bark method for quickly and easily killing a wide range of trees. For this method, all you need is a hatchet and a bottle of Tordon tree killer. You can use this method to get rid of nearly any type of tree. Just follow these steps:

  • Pick a point between ankle-height and waist-height on the tree.
  • Use your hatchet to make a downward angled cut through the bark.
  • After making the cut, the bark you cut should be sticking out from the tree in a ‘V’ shape.
  • The cut should be deep enough to reveal the white sapwood beneath the bark.
  • Repeat this process to make cuts every 2–3 inches (5–7.5 cm) around the circumference of the tree trunk.
  • Pour Tordon into each of the gashes made in the tree bark.
  • Allow 1–2 weeks for the tree to die.

By following this simple system and pouring Tordon into cuts in tree bark, the herbicide will be transported through the entire tree. In a matter of weeks, the entire tree will be killed, including the roots. This system works best in fall when the tree is transporting nutrients down to the roots, but Tordon and cut bark treatments can kill mature trees at any time of year.

Foliar Spray

If your tree is 15 feet tall (4.5 meters) or smaller in size, you can kill it by spraying systemic herbicides on the leaves. The best product to use for this method is Crossbow. It is a systemic plant killer that enters through the leaves and is carried to the roots by the plants’ vascular system. Crossbow is designed to kill tough brush and woody plants, so it’s more effective than competitor products, such as Roundup.

  • Trees smaller than 15 feet tall (4.5 meters) can be killed by spraying a systemic herbicide on their leaves.
  • This Crossbow herbicide is the best product for killing small trees and brush quickly.
  • Crossbow kills trees to the root in 1–3 weeks.

If you are spraying the leaves of a tree to kill it, make sure to spray on a wind-free day. This will prevent the spray from being carried to nearby trees and plants. Also, do not try to spray the leaves of very tall trees. Trees that have grown more than 15 feet tall (4.5 meters) are likely to survive this treatment.

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Basal Bark Treatment

If you are killing a tree that is 6 inches (15 cm) or smaller in diameter, you can simply spray the bark at the base of the trunk with the correct herbicide. For this system, use an ester formulation of Triclopyr, called Garlon 4. This herbicide must then be mixed with a bark oil. By combining these products you will create a spray that soaks through the bark to kill the tree within 1–3 weeks.

  • Trees 6 inches in diameter (15 cm) or smaller can be killed by spraying a mix of chemical herbicide and bark oil on the base of the tree.
  • Use this ester formulation of Triclopyr, called Garlon 4.
  • Mix 20 ounces (2.5 cups or 600 ml) of Garlon 4 with 1 gallon (3.75 liters) of this bark oil in a pump sprayer.
  • Spray the mix onto the bottom 12 inches (30 cm) of bark all the way around the tree.
  • The tree will die within 1–2 weeks.

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Basal bark applications are a great choice for clearing small trees and brush from areas. Because it doesn’t require you to cut the tree bark and you don’t have to spray the leaves, this is a very easy and effective treatment. It will wipe out small trees quickly, but isn’t very effective at killing large trees.

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Injection Method

You can kill trees with a concentrated form of Roundup by drilling holes in the tree, then filling them with Roundup. Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, is capable of killing trees when it is used in its undiluted, concentrated form. Here’s how it’s done:

  • Equip an electric drill with a ½-inch (12 mm) drill bit.
  • Drill a hole into the tree trunk to a depth of 1.5 inches (4 cm).
  • Angle the hole downward at 45 degrees.
  • Repeat this process in a ring around the tree, drilling one hole every 2–3 inches (5–7.5 cm).
  • Pour this concentrated Roundup into each hole.
  • Allow 1–3 weeks for the tree to die.

This process is very similar to the cut-bark method described above. In fact, you can use Tordon and concentrated Roundup interchangeably for these two methods. We typically prefer to use Tordon because it contains a blue dye that allows you to easily spot which trees and cuts have been treated with herbicide.

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What Chemical Can Be Used to Kill Trees?

The best chemicals for killing trees are:

  • Tordon: Can be used to kill large or small trees when it is applied to gashes or holes in tree bark.
  • Crossbow: Kills trees up to 15 feet tall (4.5 meters) when it is sprayed on leaves.
  • Triclopyr: When an ester formulation of Triclopyr is mixed with bark oil, it can be sprayed on the base of small-to-medium trees to kill them.
  • Roundup Concentrate: Roundup and other Glyphosate concentrates that contain 40–50% Glyphosate can be used to kill trees of any size. Like Tordon, it must be applied to cuts or holes in tree bark.

These 4 chemicals are the best way to kill trees permanently, including the tree roots. Depending on the size of the tree or the number of trees you’re killing, select a different method. Tordon or concentrated Roundup is a must for killing large trees. Crossbow is great for killing trees that are small enough that you can easily spray the leaves. Patches of small trees and brush are quickly wiped out by spraying a Triclopyr blend on the bottom 12 inches (30 cm) of tree bark.

Kill diseased trees by using chemicals

Why you should kill trees by using chemicals

Sometimes it’s impractical or uneconomic to remove diseased trees by felling and extracting the tree from the site. You may be able to treat the trees with chemicals that will kill them in place and they can then be left on site to decay naturally. Dead wood can be an important resource for wildlife.

You can also use chemicals to prevent stumps of disease-infected broadleaved trees or shrubs, like rhododendron, from regrowing.

You should use chemical treatments rather than chainsaw or hand cut ringbarking to kill standing trees. Ringbarking is not always effective and weakens the stem of the tree. In strong winds or heavy snow trees can snap where they were cut and be a safety hazard.

The main methods of chemically killing trees are:

  • surface treatments where herbicide is applied to cuts made in the tree known as cut and spray
  • stem injection using products such as Ecoplugs or similar

Ecoplugs are capsules of powdered glyphosate which are inserted into holes drilled into trees or stumps.

Stem injection has advantages over surface treatment because it:

  • can be used in wet and windy weather
  • removes the need to handle liquid pesticides
  • reduces the risk of non-target spray drift and environmental contamination

You should use stem injection rather than cut and spray to treat Phytophthora ramorum in infected larch where felling is not possible. This is because it kills the trees more quickly. You should do the work before the end of October to reduce the risk of Phytophthora ramorum spores being released the following year.

When not to use chemical treatments

You must not use chemical treatments to kill:

  • trees infected with sweet chestnut blight
  • an entire stand of coniferous trees unless conifers will never be grown on that site again

Dead conifer trees can get infected with a wood rotting fungus called Heterobasidion annosum. It can cause serious damage to conifer crops. The fungus will remain on site for many years so new conifer crops will be infected and damaged.

Before you start chemical treatments

You or your contractor must have the appropriate training and certification before using any chemical or herbicide.

You must read and follow the instructions on:

  • the label of the product you’re using
  • the safety data sheet included with the product you’re using
  • your Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) assessment

You should also consider the:

  • appropriate treatment method that’s best for the site and conditions
  • environmental and conservation issues on the site
  • best time to carry out the operations and the impact of the weather
  • potential chemical runoff when using the cut and spray method

How to kill trees by using chemicals

You can use either cut and spray or stem injections to kill the trees chemically.

Cut and spray

You’ll need:

  • liquid glyphosate at a concentration of 360 grams per litre (g/l)
  • girthing tape or a set of callipers
  • an axe or slasher
  • a forestry spot gun (also known as Drench gun), which can be metered to give the required dose
  • appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) – the operator must be trained and certificated to PA6 D

To cut and spray:

  1. Use the girthing tape or callipers to measure the tree diameter.
  2. Using the axe make a cut in the tree that it is through the bark to the stem (primary cut).
  3. Make a second cut below the first to collect any runoff.
  4. Make additional cuts in the same way as steps 2 and 3 for each whole 10cm diameter of the tree. For example a tree with a diameter of 35cm will have 3 cuts to accept the chemical and 3 below to catch any runoff.
  5. Use the forestry spot gun to spray a dose of 2ml of neat 360g/l glyphosate into each primary cut.

Cut and spray is most effective if applied within 2 days of cutting when used on rhododendron stumps.

Stem injection (Ecoplugs)

You’ll need:

  • Ecoplugs or similar
  • handheld drill with a 13mm drill bit
  • hammer
  • goggles
  • gloves
  • callipers or girth tape

To inject stems:

  1. Measure the diameter of the tree at 1.3 metres from the ground (dbh) to determine how many plugs are required. The number of plugs to use per cm of dbh is specified on the product label for stumps and the same is recommended for standing trees. The number required will vary depending on the species being treated.
  2. Ecoplugs should be spaced apart around the stem or stump. As a general rule they need to be 6 to 8cm apart.
  3. Using a drill, make the required number of holes around or in the stump or stem to a depth of 3.5 to 4cm. A specially designed drill bit is available from the Ecoplug supplier that permits the desired depth to be achieved. If this is unavailable, marking the depth on a drill bit with coloured tape will act as a substitute.
  4. Insert the plugs into the drilled holes, with the orange or coloured cap inserted into the stem and the white wider cap protruding from the bark.
  5. Tap them in using the hammer. Make sure the plug is driven in to force the end cap (orange) back into the cylinder to crack the outer shell and release the herbicide.
  6. Make sure the end cap on the plug is pressed into the bark to prevent spillage or loss of chemical.

If used on rhododendron stumps Ecoplugs are most effective if applied within 2 days of cutting.

Maintain safety on site

You or your land manager should have an appropriate inspection plan to:

  • monitor the deterioration of treated, dead and dying standing trees
  • check if any trees or stumps need follow-up treatment
  • ensure the safety of any people who may be on site for follow-up operations or for access and recreation purposes

How to water a tree so that it dries out: 4 best ways

Every gardener plans to place trees and shrubs on his site to create a beautiful landscape and comfort. Naturally, in the process, the thought does not come to mind at all that it will be necessary to destroy the landings. Unfortunately, this happens quite often. If a tree becomes ill or has grown so much that it poses a threat to the lives of people or the integrity of buildings, it must be eliminated.

It is not always possible to simply cut down the trunk. In this case, special chemicals are used. They need to water the tree so that it dries out, and it is easier to cut it into pieces and remove it from the site. From this article you will learn what substances can be used for these purposes.


  1. How to make wood dry quickly
  2. Tree killers
    1. Arboricides
    2. Herbicides
    3. Leaf processing
    4. How to water the bark to dry the tree
  3. How to remove the roots and stump of a tree
  4. Safety equipment for destroying trees

How to make a tree wither

There are many ways to artificially dry a tree, both scientifically based and folk. Chemical agents are considered more effective, which, although they pose a certain danger to the soil and humans, still allow you to quickly dry even a large specimen.

There are several ways to destroy garden trees:

  1. Watering the leaves and bark with a chemical solution;
  2. Application of special preparations to leaf blades;
  3. Inoculations of poisonous substances which rapidly penetrate the juices of the plant and destroy it;
  4. Placement of poison in the soil near the roots of the plant.

In terms of technology, the tree does not need to be destroyed: it is enough just to cut it down and treat the remaining stump with chemicals for destruction. However, if you need to act quickly, the advantage is still given to chemical preparations.

Chemicals for destroying trees

Destroying a tree with chemicals is not difficult, especially since most of them are available to every gardener (picture 1).

The most effective products are:

  1. Sodium nitrate: is most often used to destroy stumps, but it can also be used to affect adult specimens. In order for it to dry out in a year, you need to drill a hole in the trunk and introduce a chemical there. If this is not possible, you can simply pour the soil around the plant with a solution of saltpeter, but in this case, the drying process will take several years.
  2. Ammonium nitrate: uses the same principle as sodium nitrate, but there are still certain differences between these substances. Ammonium nitrate is produced on the basis of urea, which accelerates the decomposition of wood, so it is most often used to treat stumps and open root systems.
  3. Picloram: is another effective remedy that works directly on the root system. The substance inhibits the roots and the culture gradually dries out.
Figure 1. The main chemicals for the destruction of trees: sodium nitrate, ammonium nitrate, Picloram

In addition, conventional herbicides can be used to destroy plantings, as well as special preparations, arboricides, which are designed specifically for the treatment of trees and large shrubs. We will consider the features of the effects of these substances in more detail.


In fact, arboricides belong to the group of herbicides, as they are designed to control vegetation. The only difference is that arboricides are used exclusively for the destruction of trees and shrubs (Figure 2).

The substance must be diluted with water and sprayed on the culture with the prepared solution. The procedure is best done in early spring, so that the substance does not accidentally get on other plants. However, if the need for treatment arose in the middle of the season, it is better to use another method: drill a hollow in the trunk and place the preparation there. In this case, the aboricide will only affect the selected crop. At the same time, it is advisable not to plant and harvest at this place during the year.

Figure 2. Arboricide treatment technology for plants and types of preparations

Arsenal and Arbonal preparations are considered to be one of the best means for thinning plantings. Their composition is designed in such a way that the substances act directly on the wood, quickly destroying it, and the culture dies within a short time.


Herbicides that are used to control weeds in the garden are often used to kill trees. These drugs include Roundup and Tornado. They have a fairly high efficiency, and if you pour the soil around the plant with a solution of the chemical, it will quickly dry out.

See also: Pear pruning: step-by-step instructions, diagrams, terms

When using such powerful herbicides, it should be borne in mind that they not only contribute to the drying out of trees and shrubs, but also affect the soil as a whole. Therefore, after processing, other crops cannot be planted in the selected area during the year.

Leaf treatment

There are many ways to destroy a tree, and one of the most popular is the treatment of leaves with special chemicals.

Note: Since leaves play an important role in the growth and development of any crop, the application of chemicals will cause the crop to stop receiving nutrients and eventually die.

This method is not suitable for processing large specimens, but it can be used when killing low plants or shrubs. The selected specimen is simply sprayed with a solution of the drug, and it is better to do this after watering or rain. In dry weather or with a lack of moisture, the effectiveness of the drugs is reduced.

As a rule, powerful herbicides are used for such treatment, and they are best applied either in early spring or late summer. This will protect the rest of the plants in the garden from exposure to chemicals.

How to water the bark so that the tree withers

Treating the bark with chemicals is another simple but quite effective way to destroy plantings. Herbicides diluted in water are also used for this purpose. Instructions for use of the working solution, as a rule, are indicated on the packaging of the drug.

To carry out this treatment, you need to make a mark on the trunk at a height of 30-35 cm from the ground (picture 3). The herbicide solution must be mixed with any oil to increase viscosity. Next, the mixture is applied to the bark with a brush, and this must be done until the liquid stops being absorbed. This means that the substance has penetrated inside and begun to act.

Figure 3. Chemical destruction of the tree through the bark

The process of drying out using this method will take some time, depending on the age and strength of the tree. But its main advantage is that such processing can be carried out for any crops, regardless of their type, height and age.

How to remove the roots and stump of a tree

Quite common is the situation when the trunk has already been sawn down, but the stump and roots remain in the ground. You can also uproot them in the usual way, using a crowbar or a shovel, but this procedure will require a lot of time and effort from you.

It is much more effective to use chemicals to remove stumps and roots:

  1. At the initial stage, you need to cut the trunk, as the cut must be fresh. If the stump has been in your area for a long time, simply freshen up the cut slightly by sawing off some of the top layer of wood from the stump.
  2. Prepare a herbicide working solution by mixing it with water and a little oil.
  3. Treat the stump with the resulting solution. If it is large, it will be enough to apply the agent only on its outer edge (about 5-10 cm) and part of the cadmium (internal tissues). On sections of small diameter (no more than 10 cm), the composition is applied completely to the entire surface.
Figure 4 Stump and Root Removal

Roots simply need to be watered with the herbicide solution. Such treatment will further weaken the root system and wood residues, and the stump can be easily removed (Figure 4).

Safety equipment for tree destruction

The use of any chemicals requires safety and personal protection. First of all, it should be borne in mind that the solutions used to destroy plantings can adversely affect the condition of other plants in the garden, so care should be taken during the application process so that the solution does not get on neighboring crops.

In addition, it should be borne in mind that some old specimens can grow together by roots, and careless processing can destroy not one, but several plants at once. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to predict such a development of events. It should also be borne in mind that some herbicides have a negative effect on soil fertility, so when choosing a product, you need to carefully study its composition and effect on the soil.

One should not lose sight of the fact that when working with herbicides, wear a protective suit, goggles and gloves so that the toxic agent does not get on the skin or mucous membranes.

Chemical removal of trees, stumps, roots, herbicides pests, high-altitude work, industrial mountaineering.

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Homeowners generally welcome trees on their property. But some trees are invasive species that can destroy a garden over time. Other trees can damage your home, ruin your foundation, or restrict access to light.

If you are ready to chemically remove a tree, you need to reconsider your options and make an informed choice about the best method for your situation.

If you are concerned about chemicals or are removing a tree in an area where you grow fruits or vegetables, you can physically cut down the tree. If you are comfortable using a chemical herbicide, however, there are several options.

Chemical herbicides are effective and relatively cheap. On the other hand, they involve the use of potentially harmful substances in your area. There are ways to reduce the risk, but you may prefer to avoid chemicals altogether. In this case, you have two options for tree removal by the arborist, felling the tree.

Herbicide killing a tree, treatment

Herbicides can kill trees and be environmentally friendly when used correctly. The most environmentally friendly methods involve applying a herbicide to a specific area to kill the tree with chemicals. However, in some cases the only viable way to chemically kill a tree is to use a herbicide spray.

There are five main types of herbicides, only some of which are intended for domestic or agricultural use. Triclopyramine and triclopyr ester are growth regulator type herbicides, while glyphosate and imazapyr kill plants by interfering with plant protein synthesis. Aminopyralide is primarily effective on legumes like kudzu and may not be right for your needs.

Chemical tree removal

Here are six ways to chemically remove trees:

    1. Cut surface treatment: This chemical tree removal method involves creating a chemical pathway through the bark so that the herbicide can be injected into the tree's vascular tissue. Start by making a series of downward cuts around the circumference of the tree with an ax or axe, leaving the frill (cut section of bark) connected to the tree. Apply herbicide of choice to cuts immediately. Avoid using springs when the juice from the wound prevents good suction.
    2. Injection treatment: Use specialized tree chemical injection equipment to inject a certain amount of herbicide into the tree when the cut is made. Treatments are effective when injections are made every 2-6 inches around the tree. 3 For best results with the chemical tree removal method, treat trees with a diameter of 5 cm or more at chest level. The injection is performed by a tree removal company because it requires investment in equipment.
    3. Chemical Treatment of Stumps: After cutting down a tree, you can minimize the possibility of regrowth by immediately treating the freshly cut surface of the stump with herbicide to prevent germination. On large trees, treat only 5-7 cm, including the cambium layer, the stump (the inner core of the tree is already dead). For trees 8 cm or less in diameter, treat the entire cut surface.
    4. Basal Bark Treatment: Apply herbicide to the bottom 12-18 inches of the tree trunk (on the bark) from early spring to mid-fall. 3 Some species can be treated during the winter. Use a herbicide spray mixed with oil until the bark is saturated. The ester compositions are the only oil soluble products registered for this application. This method is effective at chemically killing trees of all sizes.
    5. Foliage treatment: Foliar spraying to kill trees with chemicals is a common method of applying herbicides to clean up to 3.5 m in height. Apply from early summer to late September depending on herbicide choice. Treatments are least effective in very hot weather and when the trees are under severe water stress.
    6. Tillage: Some tillages applied uniformly to the soil surface may move to the root zone of target plants after adequate rainfall or high moisture. Tying (also called lacing or veining) applies the concentrated solution to the soil in a line or strip spaced every 05m, -1m. You can use this type of application to chemically kill a large number of trees.

Chemical wood removal tips.

Learn how to safely and legally use herbicides before starting a chemical tree removal project. Herbicide treatment of roots or soil (or sprayed herbicides) can inadvertently kill vegetation.