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How to Get Rid of a Mesquite Tree: 7 Effective Ways

How to Get Rid of a Mesquite Tree

We have an unpopular opinion that may be a bit controversial: mesquite trees are not good for the garden. We know, we know – every tree is precious.

But while mesquite trees have positive contributions, not everyone is a fan of these trees. They can pop up anywhere, and getting rid of them can be quite difficult.

If you’ve been trying to remove them but don’t know how, we have listed various ways to do it. And don’t worry, we even got into the details so you don’t have to look somewhere else.

How To Get Rid of a Mesquite Tree

How To Get Rid of a Mesquite Tree
Image by National Park Service

Ah, mesquite trees, the overachievers of the plant world. Not only do they rudely snatch water and nutrients from their innocent neighbors, but they also have a resilient temper.

But fear not! We’ve got your back when it comes to bidding these fire-starting show-offs farewell. Here are the best ways you can get rid of pesky mesquite trees:

Cut and treat stump• It works for smaller trees

• It prevents mesquite trees from regrowing

• Relatively simple and straightforward method
• You will be dealing with strong or toxic herbicides

• It can harm surrounding plants and animals

• It takes time for the stump to rot and decay
Foliar spray• It’s effective for smaller trees

• It can control the spread of mesquite trees

• It requires little equipment and training
• It can harm other plants and animals if used carelessly

• May not work on larger trees

• You’ll need to do multiple applications
Basal Bark Treatment• It works for older trees that have thick barks

• It can prevent trees from regrowing

• You can do it with minimal equipment and training
• It can be harmful to other plants and animals

• You need to be careful in handling the herbicides

• It will take time for tree to die
Girdling or Barking• It’s effective on smaller trees

• You can kill the tree without using chemicals

• You can do it just by using simple hand tools
• It’s time-consuming and labor-intensive

• It can harm other plants and animals if done carelessy

• It will take time for tree to die
Injecting with Chemicals• It works well for larger trees

• It can prevent the tree from regrowing

• You can do it without disturbing the surroundings
• Takes specialized equipment and training to do it

• The chemicals can be harmful to other plants and animals

• Can cost a bit
Cut Surface Treatment• It’s ideal for trees that have been cut down

• It can prevent trees from regrowing

• You can do it with little equipment and training
• The herbicides can be harmful to other plants and animals

• You’ll need to be careful when handling herbicides

• It takes time for tree to die
Burning• It quickly controls the spread of mesquite trees

• It’s effective in clearing large areas

• You don’t need a lot of equipment and training
• You’ll need to get permits

• It’s very risky if not under controlled conditions

• It contributes to air pollution and emissions

Alright, my savvy compadre, now that we’ve got the whole enchilada in our sights, let’s zoom in and dissect each method, shall we?

1. Cut and Treat Stump

Cut and Treat Stump
Image by Alabama Cooperative Extension System
DifficultyMedium ●●●○○
SpeedMedium to slow
Things You Need• Personal protective equipment

• An axe, a saw, or an electric chainsaw

• Herbicide

• Spray bottle or herbicide applicator

This method is as classic as a well-tailored suit. Mesquite trees, with their invasive nature, tend to evoke sighs of frustration in the hearts of many property owners.

The beauty of this method lies in its simplicity and efficiency. By gracefully severing the tree’s towering presence and introducing a touch of herbicidal charm, one can swiftly bid adieu to the persistent green intruder.

How to Cut and Treat Stump

1. Cut the tree down.
If you want to get the job done with a touch of flair, consider wielding an axe. But if you’re feeling extra adventurous and want to chop your way through like a lumberjack on steroids, opt for a chainsaw. 
Just remember to suit up in proper protective gear, because nothing says “trendy” like donning a lumberjack outfit while avoiding accidental amputations. Safety first, style second!

2. Trim the stump.
Now that the tree is stumped, you’re left with a situation that’s a bit stumped too. Trim it down as close to the ground as possible, but don’t get stumped by the task, even if you’re suiting up in protective gear.

3. Apply the herbicide.
Now’s the perfect moment to unleash the herbicidal wrath upon that stubborn stump! Don’t procrastinate, get on it pronto, just stick to the guidelines mentioned on the product label, and you’ll be good to go.
Oh, and don’t forget to suit up like a badass scientist with gloves, goggles, and face masks. Those protective gears will shield you from the sneaky chemical fumes of the herbicide.

4. Wait.
Waiting for a tree stump to kick the bucket can feel like watching paint dry in slow motion. You’ll need the patience of a sloth on a Sunday afternoon, so buckle up and settle in for the long haul.

Useful Reminders

Remember that when it comes to dealing with pesky vegetation, sticking to smaller trees is key. Unless you want them to make a surprise comeback like an uninvited party crasher! 

But tread lightly, because herbicides can be a bit like a double-edged sword. After all, nobody wants to accidentally sprout a garden of unintended consequences.

2. Foliar Spray

Foliar Spray
DifficultyMedium ●●●○○
SpeedMediium to slow
Things You Need• Personal protective equipment

• Backpack sprayer

• Herbicide

• Mixing container

• Funnel

When it comes to this task, you’ll be playing the role of a herbicidal artist, spraying those pesky herbicides on the leaves. It’s like a miniature warfare against the mesquite tree, especially when it’s still in its humble beginnings and easier to bid farewell.

As you douse the leaves with those potent chemicals, they will eagerly soak them up like nature’s naughty little sponges. 

Soon enough, these chemicals will embark on a grand tour within the tree’s intricate system, wreaking havoc and ultimately snuffing out its existence. It’s like a secret agent mission gone green!

How to Apply Herbicide Foliar Spray

1. Prepare the herbicide.
Mix the herbicide according to the instructions on the product. Remember, wearing protective gear is as important as a magician’s cloak at a mediocre magic show – it keeps you safe from the smoke and mirrors, or in this case, toxic chemicals. 

2. Pour the herbicide into the sprayer.
You can use a funnel to pour the mixed herbicide. This will help you avoid spills that can harm the surrounding or, in extreme cases, give your plants an unintended taste of death!

3. Spray the herbicide.
Start by spraying on the top of the tree and then work your way down. It’s like giving the tree a stylish top-down makeover, complete with a herbicide spritz.

4. Monitor the tree.
Now that you’ve applied your magical elixir of plant death, it’s time to sit back, relax, and watch nature take its course.
But hey, if that tenacious mesquite tree refuses to take a hint and play dead within a couple of weeks, don’t fret! You can always go for Plan B and give it another round of herbicide treatment. 
And if that still doesn’t do the trick, well, let’s just say there are more tricks up our sleeves than a magician at a trendy garden party!

Useful Reminders

Spraying the leaves with herbicides works like a charm for those puny trees, but when it comes to the big boys, well, it’s like trying to put out a forest fire with a water pistol. 

Oh, and choose days with a breeze that’s as gentle as a summer sigh. If the wind is playing a fierce game of tag, your herbicide might end up crashing other plant parties.

3. Basal Bark Treatment

Basal Bark Treatment
DifficultyMedium ●●○○○
SpeedMedium to slow
Things You Need• Personal protective equipment

• Herbicide

• Paint brush or low-pressure sprayer

Now, if you’re tackling those big, towering trees, this method might just be your answer. And hey, no need for any fancy expertise to give it a shot!

Here’s the secret sauce: we coax those trees into becoming unwitting chemists as they gulp down toxic concoctions through their bark-root surfaces. 

The herbicide goes undercover, gradually taking down the unsuspecting giants. Talk about a killer chemistry lesson for Mother Nature!

How to Perform Basal Bark Treatment

1. Prepare the herbicide.
Mix the herbicide according to the directions found on the product. Put on your protective gear and clothing like a fashion-forward chemist, ready to slay those pesky weeds!

2. Apply the herbicide.
Time to channel your inner Picasso and grab your paintbrush or low-pressure sprayer, as we embark on a mission to gracefully bid farewell to those unwanted plants. 
Then apply the herbicide, starting at the base and ascending up to a height of 12 to 15 inches from the ground. 

3. Wait and monitor.
Just like the other methods, you’ll need to play the waiting game. It can take several weeks or even months to know if it worked, so you’ll have to be a bit patient and monitor the tree. 

Useful Reminders

While this technique works wonders on elder trees, it may struggle to leave a lasting impression on the grand giants with thick barks. 

Plus, attempting it on mischievous mesquite trees with their multiple branches is like playing a game of tag with a wily octopus—it’s quite the spectacle, but the odds are not in your favor.

4. Girdling or Barking

Girdling or Barking
DifficultyMedium ●●○○○
Things You Need• Personal protective equipment

• An axe, a saw, or an electric chainsaw

This method, though effective for our leafy giants, certainly demands a considerable investment of both time and elbow grease. It entails delicately peeling off a strip of bark, which will require some deft and dexterity.

As we gracefully snip the tree’s lifeline of hydration and sustenance, the mesquite tree will inevitably find itself facing an untimely demise, much like an erring celebrity losing their touch in the limelight.

How to Girdle or Bark the Tree

1. Assess the mesquite tree.
Keep your eyes peeled on the tree to see if it’s a David or Goliath. If you have a qualified giant growing in your garden, then this is how you’ll know if girdling is an ideal solution.

2. Make the cut.
Simply take your cutting implement and gently remove a strip of bark encircling your tree.
Remember, the key to this trendsetting technique is depth. For those petite trees, a four-inch-deep cut will suffice, ensuring a complete halt to their access to water and nutrients. 
Also, go for cuts measuring two to three inches deep to keep you at the height of horticultural elegance.

3. Monitor the tree.
This method is one of the slower ones on this list. You can expect to wait for several months or even up to a year for the mesquite tree to die from girdling.

Useful Reminders

Prepare yourself for a slightly longer timeline, but trust me, the wait will be worth it. Just sit back, relax, and watch that pesky mesquite tree slowly wave its white flag of surrender. 

On the plus side, you won’t need to use toxic chemicals, so that’s a big sigh of relief!

5. Injecting Chemicals

Injecting Chemicals
Image by GoTree Quotes
DifficultyMedium to hard ●●●●○
SpeedMedium to slow
Things You Need• Personal protective equipment

• DrillInjection syringe or gun

• Herbicide capsules or cartridges

• Sealing wax, silicone plugs, or sealing tape

Drilling herbicides into the trunk is like giving a tree a one-way ticket to the botanical underworld. It’s like slipping them a lethal cocktail, with the chemicals playing a wicked game of hide-and-seek throughout their system, getting the job done in record time.

Now, hold your horses because this isn’t your average DIY project. We’re talking specialized equipment and skills here. 

If you’re not a certified tree whisperer, it’s best to leave this task to the pros. Trust me, they’ve got the mojo to handle it.

But if you happen to be the jack-of-all-trades in horticulture and armed with the right tools and some serious know-how, well, the ball’s in your court. 

You can channel your inner arboreal assassin and take matters into your own hands. Just remember to do it responsibly, like a green-thumb James Bond, and bid farewell to that pesky mesquite tree.

How to Inject Chemicals in the Tree

1. Assess the mesquite tree.
Let’s assess the size and state of our charming mesquite tree to gauge the number of little injection sites it craves. Once we have the figures, simply mark the spots where we need to drill.
The base of our mesquite beauty is a prime location for our drilling endeavors. This will cleverly camouflage any lingering stumps that may cause a smidge of visual disharmony.

2. Prepare the herbicide.
You’ve got two options on your plate: herbicide solutions or capsules. If you’re a hands-on kind of person, solutions are your jam. Just mix them up manually, and you’re good to go. 
But if you’re all about that high-tech life, capsules are the way to roll. Pop those babies into the injection syringe or gun, and watch the magic happen.
Now, before we dive into the mixology, it’s all about safety first. We don’t want any unexpected surprises. 
So, make sure you’re suited up with all the protective gear and clothing. It’s like putting on your stylish armor, but with a practical twist.

3. Drill the tree.
Next, we’re going to create some breathing room for our tree buddy. Grab a trusty shovel and start digging a few holes around the base, and make sure they’re nicely spread out.
Now, here’s a pro tip: we want those holes to be more than just surface-level acquaintances with the tree. Aim for a depth of at least two inches, but if you’re feeling generous, go for a solid four inches. 

4. Inject the herbicide.
When it comes to injecting the chemicals, think of yourself as a chemist on a mission. Just like a delicate artist wielding a brush, use that trusty syringe or gun to introduce the chemicals into each hole. 
Remember, the bigger the tree, the more sites and herbicide you’ll need to work your magic on!
Now, after this chemical extravaganza, it’s time to seal the deal. Think of it as tree surgery but with a touch of elegance. 
You’ve got options here: wax sealants, silicone plugs, or sealing tapes can be your trusty companions in this delicate operation. Choose whichever suits your fancy and get those holes sealed up tight.

5. Check and monitor the tree.
With all your tasks checked off, now it’s time to play the waiting game. Just remember, patience is the secret ingredient here, like letting the mesquite tree take its sweet time to bid us adieu. 
We’re talking weeks, maybe even months, so find something fun to occupy yourself while nature works its magic.

Useful Reminders

Injections take the lead in the race of effectiveness when compared to other herbicide methods. Speedy results? Check! 

But hey, let’s not forget that this task requires a true pro with the know-how and finesse to pull it off. It’s not just a stroll in the horticultural park, you know.

Cut Surface Treatment

Cut Surface Treatment
Image by Beef Magazine
DifficultyMedium ●●●○○
SpeedMedium to slow
Things You Need• Personal protective equipment

• An axe, saw, or electric chainsawHerbicidePaint brush or any other applicator

Now, let me share a nifty little technique to tackle those persistent mesquite trees that just won’t take a hint after being chopped down. We’ll be applying some herbicide to prevent those little rascals from making a comeback.

But here’s the catch: this approach doesn’t promise a total tree funeral. So, brace yourselves for some follow-up treatments to ensure those mesquites bid adieu once and for all! 

How to Perform Cut Surface Treatment

1. Cut the tree down.
Grab that trusty axe, saw, or even opt for the more modern electric chainsaw, and let’s bring that towering timber down to its knees. Make sure they’re clean too! 
The goal here is to sever those roots and limbs, reducing the chances of any unexpected regrowth in the future. So, swing that tool with precision, bid adieu to the towering timber, and let nature know who’s boss!

2. Remove any remaining stump.
Stumps are unsightly and terribly unsafe, so slice away with your trusty tool of choice! Plus, any stumps will have your tree feeling hopeful with the chance of regrowth, so keep them as low to the ground as you can.

3. Apply the herbicide.
There are a few different methods, but the most effective is to use a cutting tool. A chainsaw or stump grinder will do the trick, but be sure to wear safety gear, such as goggles and gloves.
Once you’ve cut down the stump, you’ll need to remove all of the roots. This can be a bit of a challenge, but it’s important to get as much of the root system as possible. Otherwise, the tree may still be able to regrow.

4. Monitor the cut area.
Mesquite trees are known for being hard to kill. In fact, they’re so hard to kill that they’ve earned a reputation for being downright indestructible. 
So if you’re determined to kill a mesquite tree, you’ll need to be patient and persistent. You may need to apply herbicides multiple times before the tree finally dies.
And even then, there’s no guarantee that it won’t come back. But don’t let that discourage you. With a little bit of effort, you can eventually kill even the hardiest mesquite tree!

Useful Reminders

This method is a real hoot for trees that have been cut down and you want to make sure they don’t grow back. But be warned, it might not completely kill the tree, so you might have to do it a few times. 

6. Burning

DifficultyMedium ●●●○○
SpeedQuick to medium
Things You Need• Burning permit

• Approved materials for burning

• Paint brush or any other applicator

Fire can be a powerful tool for controlling invasive trees. When done correctly, burning can quickly and effectively eliminate an infestation.

But before you grab a match and start a bonfire, there are a few things you need to know.

First, burning is not legal everywhere. In some areas, it’s strictly prohibited. So before you do anything, check with your local fire department to see what the rules are.

Second, you may still need a permit even if burning is legal in your area. This is especially true if you’re planning on burning a large area. 

You’d do better to comply with their local authorities than face legal consequences!

How to Burn Mesquite Trees Properly

1. Apply for a burning permit.
The processing of burning permit applications varies according to where you live. But fret not! We’re here to make everything easy for you.
Now, let’s do a general run-through of what it usually takes to get a permit to burn invasive trees:
The first step is to find out what the local policies, rules, and regulations are. This information is usually available from your local fire department or environmental agency.
Once you know what’s required, you can fill out the application. The application will usually ask for information about the size, location, and density of the trees you want to burn.
When you’ve submitted your application, you’ll need to wait for it to be approved. This process can take a few days or a few weeks, depending on how busy the agency is.
Once your permit is approved, you can start preparing the site for burning. This includes clearing away any flammable materials and creating a firebreak around the area you’re going to burn.
And that’s it! Once you’ve done all of that, you’re ready to start burning those invasive trees. Just be sure to follow all of the safety precautions and have a plan in place in case something goes wrong.

2. Choose the right time to burn.
The ideal time is during the cooler months, when the weather is dry and the wind is low. This will help to prevent the fire from spreading out of control.
Articles that go viral are fantastic, but fires that go out of control are something we disapprove of!
Second, you’ll need to make sure that the humidity is high on the day you plan to burn the tree. This will help to keep the smoke down, which is always a good thing unless you want to end up smelling like smoked wood!

3. Clear the area.
One way to help prevent a fire from spreading is to remove any debris or other materials that go up in flames.
This could include things like leaves, twigs, old newspapers, or anything else that could catch fire easily. 

4. Create firebreaks.
A firebreak is a great way to keep your tree from catching fire. Just don’t catch fire yourself while you’re digging!
To do this, dig trenches around the mesquite tree aside from removing flammable materials around it. If you’re still not sure, just try asking a firefighter. They’re always happy to help!

5. Burn the tree.
To ignite the tree in a controlled manner, you have a couple of options up your sleeve. One is to employ a drip torch, which allows for a controlled release of fuel onto the tree. 
The other method is a backfire, where you strategically light a fire in the opposite direction of the main blaze. Before you go all fire-starting guru, keep in mind that both approaches require some serious know-how.
If you lack the necessary training and skills, it might be wise to call in the pros or consider undergoing the training yourself. 

6. Monitor the fire.
Keep a keen watch on the flickering flames and their fiery dance with the surrounding elements. And oh, don’t forget to keep a sharp eye on that mischievous wind!

7. Extinguish the fire fully.
After making sure the tree has been fully burned, check the site and extinguish any lingering flames like the fire-savvy champ you are. Remember, we’ve got options here – water, dirt, or sand – take your pick! 
Fully extinguishing the fire is our secret weapon against those pesky accidental fires. Let’s keep the flames where they belong – in the fireplace, not on our property.

Useful Reminders

While torching your mesquite tree may seem like a blazingly efficient approach, it’s important to tread the path of caution and follow the right protocols. Otherwise, you’ll need to hand the reins over to the experts.


How do I know if mesquite trees are a problem on my land?

You’ll know if mesquite trees are becoming a problem in your area when you see one or more of the following signs:

• Increased presence of mesquite trees
• Fewer native plant species
• Decreased plants for livestock consumption

Can mesquite trees be removed manually?

You can definitely remove mesquite trees manually by cutting them down. However, this requires a lot of work and may not be efficient if there are a lot of them.

If this is the case, you may want to look for other ways to get rid of them.

How long does it take for herbicides to work on mesquite trees?

Generally, it takes several days, weeks, months, or even up to a year to completely kill it with herbicides.

That said, it depends on the size of the mesquite tree and the strength of the herbicide.

What can I do to prevent mesquite trees from spreading on my land?

Here’s what you can do to prevent mesquite trees from spreading in your area:

• Monitor and remove young mesquite trees as soon as you see them.
• Maintain a diverse ecosystem by using local and native plants.
• Where possible, avoid overgrazing and practice good land management.

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