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How to Kill Trees with Diesel

How to Kill Trees with Diesel

As much as we love having trees around, it is inevitable that some of them need to be taken down at some point. 

You may be looking for a natural way to get rid of a tree so you can finally redecorate your yard or remove a tree that could fall anytime. In this case, we’d say diesel is the way to go. 

In this article, we’ll teach you how to kill trees using diesel.

Does diesel really kill trees?

Does diesel really kill trees
Image: Bob Vila

Diesel can kill trees in as fast as one week for small tree stumps, or one month for large tree stumps. Of course, this depends on the manner of applying the diesel and removing the stump that you will choose. 

It is highly advised to use less diesel if the soil is porous or sandy or if the tree only has a single stem. Diesel can also be poured on the top of a tree as this stops tree growth. 

How to kill a tree with diesel 

Here are 4 easy steps to kill a tree with diesel.

1. Assemble your tools.

Make sure you have the following tools on hand:

  1. Paintbrush
  2. Auger drill
  3. Funnel
  4. Power drill
  5. Reciprocating saw
  6. Chainsaw

2. Cut the tree to a stump.

Start by chopping the branches from bottom to top. Then cut up the trunk into manageable pieces until a stump is left that can easily be pulled out with a rope.

3. Apply diesel.

There are different ways to apply diesel:

Basal Bark Treatment

Basal Bark Treatment
Image: Extension

The basal bark treatment is most effective on trees less than 7 inches in diameter. 

What You’ll Need

  • One-gallon gas can, jar or container
  • Half gallon of diesel fuel
  • Half a gallon of sugar
  • Spray bottle


  1. Fill a one-gallon gas container with half a gallon of diesel fuel. 
  2. Add the rest of the half gallon of sugar to the container.
  3. Mix well until the sugar dissolves. 
  4. Spray the solution at the bottom of the tree trunk until saturated. 

Chemical Injection Method

Chemical Injection Method
Image: PH&G

The chemical injection method kills a tree within a week to 6 months. You can do this process twice a week to ensure the tree’s absorption of the fuel. 

You can use this procedure with or without cutting the tree down.

Cutting the Tree Down

This procedure must be done as soon as the tree is cut. Otherwise, the tree stump will quickly heal on its own. 


  1. Cut the tree down to a stump with a chainsaw. 
  2. After chopping the tree, use a paintbrush to apply diesel to the tree stump. This prevents diesel from spilling onto other living things such as plants, animals, and even humans.
Without Cutting the Tree
  1. Drill holes that are 8 to 10 inches deep with 1-inch gaps in the whole tree trunk. 
  2. Fill these holes with diesel.
  3. To ensure total death, you can also treat the outer circle of the tree with more diesel.

Cut Surface Treatment

Cut Surface Treatment
Image: Bob Vila


  1. Start by making downward cuts and deep gashes around the trunk using a chainsaw or an ax. 
  2. Spray diesel into the cuts until the tree absorbs them completely. 
  3. Repeat this process at least twice for another week.

4. Remove the stump.

Remove the stump
Image: Bandit Chippers

After a few days to one week, the tree stump will decompose. There are 3 ways to remove the decomposing stump – burying, burning, and grinding.

1. Burying

  1. Begin by digging a circle around the tree stump.
  2. Cut the stump with a chainsaw until it is below the ground. 
  3. Bury the rest of the stump. 

It will decompose naturally and you will even see grass growing inside it.

2. Burning

  1. Cut hashtag (#) patterns onto the tree stump. 
  2. Apply diesel and light a fire. 
  3. Cover the burning stump with a drum to prevent it from igniting other surrounding living things. 
  4. Fill the remaining hole from the burnt tree stump with dirt.

3. Grinding

  1. Hire or rent a stump grinder.
  2. The stump grinder’s rotating blade will cut the wood into small pieces. 

Through grinding, the tree regrowth cannot happen anymore as the stump and roots are completely destroyed. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How much diesel is needed to kill a tree?

You will need approximately 1 gallon of diesel to kill a medium-sized tree. 

Will diesel kill tree roots?

Diesel kills tree roots, which leads to the death of a tree. To do this, drill holes in the tree roots and fill them with diesel fuel. 
The hydrocarbon properties of diesel reduce the oxygen supply which prevents the roots from transporting the tree’s needed nutrients to survive.  
Make sure to place safety precautions to prevent the diesel fuel from mixing with groundwater. 
But if you only want one root to die, you can just cut that root from the tree and paint diesel on it to die. 

Will diesel kill tree stumps?

Diesel kills tree stumps as it prevents the tree from receiving nutrition from the soil. 
Most cut the tree to a stump before applying diesel. This method kills the tree stump in days to one week. 

Will motor oil kill a tree?

Motor oil can kill a tree by pouring the same at the heart of the stump. Its properties block the vascular systems of the tree that prevents water from being absorbed by the roots. 
However, motor oil prevents natural decomposers from breaking down the stump so its use is more time-consuming. 

Do diesel and sugar kill tree stumps?

A diesel and sugar mixture can kill a tree faster, especially for large, tough, and sturdy trees. This mixture speeds up the killing process by preventing the tree stump from receiving any more nutrition. 

Will diesel kill a pine tree?

Diesel kills pine trees. This is done by applying diesel fuel to the roots or the tree stump. 

How do you kill roots naturally?

Natural methods of killing tree roots include:

Using Epsom or rock salt. By applying them to the stump and roots in high concentration, the tree becomes dehydrated and will start to decay in one to six weeks. 
Shielding stump and roots from the sun. This prevents the stump from performing photosynthesis, which will eventually begin its slow death in up to three months. 

Will diesel kill a palm tree?

Diesel can kill a palm tree, but it does not necessarily need to be poisoned to die. Pine trees can die simply from being cut down and removed from the soil. 

What is the fastest way to kill a tree’s stump and roots?

The fastest way to kill a tree is by using a stump grinder. With its rotating blade, it breaks apart the tree stump and tears down the root of a tree, ensuring zero chance of tree regrowth in the future.

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