How to Kill a Tree with Salt


Environmentalists believe that you should be ready to plant two if you cut a tree. However, having a tree outgrowing your yard can be a hazard rather than beneficial. Your first course of action would be to chop it down, only to realize you did half the task. A tree requires potassium and magnesium to form chlorophyll, so introducing salt is the easiest to kill it, according to the Hunker. The sodium ion prevents the tree’s roots from nutrient uptake, killing it in the process. Perhaps the tree you want to eliminate is attracting non-beneficial predators or preventing other plants from growing healthily. Either way, you have special reasons for killing the tree, so using biological means like salt is your only way to ensure that you don’t compromise the ecosystem’s well-being. Since you don’t want to interfere with the soil pH and other plants around the tree through herbicides, it would be best to tread carefully by using salt. So, here is everything you need to know about killing trees with salt.

How does salt kill trees?

Sodium chloride, commonly called table salt, can be used as a deicing agent. Most people use it on roads to melt snow during winter. However, things like cars and wind can move the salt on the road, making the trees around the roadside appear burnt. It doesn’t get any easier because trees 650 away from the road may also be affected, according to Home Guides SFGate. When you apply salt around the trees, they will end up absorbing it. It can take weeks to months for the trees to uptake the salt. The easiest way is to kill a tree using salt is through the roots. Once the roots take in the sodium ions, there is no way magnesium and potassium will get inside them.

How to kill a tree using salt

Step 1: Dig a hole around the tree

According to the Hunker, killing a tree using salt starts by creating four holes measuring ½ inches around the tree. Make sure the holes are diagonally positioned from the base of the tree. Make sure the holes are at least three inches deep.

Step 2: Add the salt

Get three cups and fill them with salt. Ensure the cups are filled with six cups of salt. You can add water to the salt in a ratio of 2:1.

Step 3: Pour the salt

Now pour the salt solution into the holes you dug. Watch carefully how the salt dissolves into the holes. Continue pouring the salt solution with more salt until it dissolves completely. You might want to keep adding the salt for a week to get effective results.

Getting rid of a tree stump

You might have noticed that tree stumps won’t just disappear even after applying salt. Some can easily come alive and produce stems when you least expect them. Gladly, there are many physical removal solutions you can try out, but they come with their pitfalls. Thus, to fully eliminate the tree, you start by;

1. Digging out the tree stump

Start by measuring the tree stump. If it’s at least 12 inches in diameter, digging out is the most practical solution you may take. You can use special hand tools instead of going for complex machines. It might seem like a labor-intensive approach, so it’s best if you choose the right materials for this project. For example, the project can’t get any easier if you have a sturdy spade, mattock, or digging iron. Use the mattock and iron to dig deeply into the tree stump’s stubborn roots. Next, use the spade to remove the remains of what you’ve dug. The easiest way to get rid of a tree stump is by making the soil around it loose using a mattock. Use the spade to clear it away. These two tools will expose the roots, after which you will use a mattock to kill the roots. Now you can continue to work downward and inward from all sides toward the taproot underneath the stump. Use the digging iron to make the soil around it loose to make your workspace more spacious. Upon exposing the taproot, use the mattock to chop it, and the tree stump will expose its root ball and large roots, which you can chop off.

2. Set the tree stump on fire

The tree stump will dry up after a few days, making it easier to burn it off. So, if chopping it off seems like more of a hassle, the only solution you have is eliminating it is using fire. Before lighting the fire, remove anything flammable within at least a 20-foot radius. Once you finish burning it up, extinguish the fire using a gardening hose.

Other options

If the salt doesn’t work, the only solution you have is using a herbicide once you cut the tree. Here’s what you’ll need; A small bucket, Power saw, 41% glyphosate herbicide, and Paintbrush

Step 1: Cutting down the tree

Cut down the tree and wait two days before making another fresh cut. The slice should have a flat surface to reveal the new flesh. If the tree was aged more than seven years, expose the new flesh of the outer to two inches.

Step 2: Apply 2-3 inches of water to the cambium layer

Of course, the outer layer is still active and growing, so you should saturate it with the herbicide. Eventually, it would help if you prepared it so the herbicide would move from the live tissues to the roots.

Step 3: Applying the herbicide

Apply the herbicide plus the water solution to the exposed cambium layer using a garden sprayer. You can also use a paintbrush if a garden sprayer isn’t an option for the application. Ensure the herbicide doesn’t spread to other plants or grass around the trunk. The roots will die off completely in a couple of weeks.


While it’s not advisable to kill a tree using salt or other crude means, sometimes, it might be necessary. Try these methods to save your yard from problems in the future.

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