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How to Kill a Tree with Salt

How to Kill a Tree with Salt

Did you know that salt was once a main ingredient of a military strategy? Soldiers used a war tactic dubbed “salting the earth” to prevent growing crops from giant fields. 

Today, people still “salt the earth” to get rid of unwanted trees in their backyards. If this is something you’ve been wanting to try, you’ve come to the right place.

It only takes a few hours to get the job done. Let’s get started!

How does salt kill a tree?

How does salt kill a tree
Image: Homesteading Down Under

Salt kills trees by preventing potassium and magnesium from flowing to their root system. Without these elements, the tree cannot photosynthesize and produce food, causing it to die. 

How to Kill a Tree with Salt

To kill a tree with salt, you’ll need to create a saltwater solution, drill holes into the tree, and pour the solution directly into it.

Below is a detailed guide on how to properly do this!

How to Kill a Tree with Salt
Image: Plant Abundance
DifficultyEasy ●○○○○
Duration1 to 4 hours
Things You Need

SaltWaterCup or containerDrillFunnelPlastic sheets
How to Kill Trees with Salt:

Mix 2 cups of water with 1 cup of salt (2:1 ratio) to create a saltwater solution.Drill a 2 to 3-inch deep hole into the entire circumference of the tree’s roots, stump, and trunk at a downward angle.Using a funnel, pour the saltwater solution directly into the holes of the tree. Cover the holes with tape or a plastic sheet and wait for the tree to die. Repeat the application to keep the holes full until the leaves fall and the tree turns brown to die. 

FAQs on Killing Trees with Salt

Will salt kill tree roots?

Salt kills tree roots. As it absorbs the sodium ions, nutrients like magnesium and potassium are blocked from reaching them, robbing them of the moisture and nutrients they need to survive.

What kind of salt kills trees?

Epsom, rock, table, or sea salt are the kinds of salt that can kill trees. 

That said, Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) is the most effective tree killer. It draws out moisture from the tree and the surrounding soil, causing them to wither, die and rot. 

Will salt kill tree stumps?

Salt can kill tree stumps by drying out the moisture from the remaining trunk up to the roots. Through this process, the roots eventually wither, rot and lead the tree to death.

How much salt do you need to kill a tree?

Generally, you will need 2 to 4 lbs of salt to effectively kill a large, mature tree. The salt solution must continuously be applied until the tree withers and dies.  

Do salt and vinegar kill tree stumps?

A mixture of salt and vinegar can effectively kill tree stumps. Vinegar burns foliage, increases the acidity level of the tree, and prevents it from photosynthesizing and transporting nutrients to its roots. 

However, vinegar is not effective in killing medium to large-sized trees.

What trees can be killed using salt?

Some trees that salt can kill are poplar, sweet bay, redwood, and pine trees.

How long does it take to kill a tree with salt?

It takes months to kill small trees and years to kill large trees using salt. The key is the continuous application of the injection method to speed up the absorption and withering of the tree. 

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