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How Do You Kill A Tree Without Anyone Knowing

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Killing a tree can be frowned upon by many, and it can be even worse when it is your neighbor’s tree that has large branches over your garden or in a prime position where everyone can see it. So, if you are in this situation, you may need to know how to secretly kill a tree.

While you shouldn’t accidentally cut down a neighbor’s tree, knowing how to kill a tree undetected makes a considerable difference to your plans. In our guide, you can find all the ways to get rid of a tree undetected.

By the end, you’ll see plenty of methods you can use for very small trees, invasive species, or large trees that will eventually die. (Learn How To Kill Banana Trees)

How Do You Kill A Tree Without Anyone Knowing

What is Girdling a Tree?

You can set about killing trees through girdling without the trees being felled. In girdling, the outer layer of bark, the cambium layer, and occasionally sapwood layers are severed in a ring that wraps around the tree’s trunk.

The cambium layer can’t grow back once the ring is big enough, making it the most effective way to kill a tree. This technique is the most effective way to kill trees that will eventually be cut down for firewood. However, we advise the following process to guarantee that both the treetop and the tree roots are killed:

A hatchet, hammer, chisel, or chainsaw can remove a belt or “girdle” of bark encircling the tree. Goats were once used to accomplish the same goal. The removed bark ring needs to be between 4 and 8 inches wide.

For quicker and more effective results, some people go the extra mile and spray weedkiller on the exposed wood where the bark was removed. Trees’ bark acts as a conduit for transportation, and girdling halts the flow of nutrients from the roots to the branches. Therefore, it might work better on thick than thin trees. While it could be the best method, the ring is visible to anyone passing by.

copper nails

Does Copper Kill Trees?

The effectiveness of copper nails in killing large trees is up for debate. Copper nails might impact a small tree more because you can drive them deeper into its center. Larger trees require more nails, but just one copper nail may be satisfactory here.

If appropriately used, copper sulfate, a poison, will kill the entire tree and is used to keep tree roots from growing into sewer systems. Copper sulfate should not be sprayed on the ground because it harms the earth and water resources, even though you can use it to kill trees. (Learn How To Kill Pine Trees)

Here’s how to secretly poison a tree using these methods.

  1. First, remove an inch or two of bark from the tree’s base at ground level. If the bark is too thick to peel, cut a small bark tab on three sides of a square with a knife.
  2. Drill a downward-pointing hole in the big tree trunk.
  3. Place a funnel into the hole and nearly fill it with copper sulfate. The length and size of the hole determine how much copper sulfate can be poured in and how quickly the tree will die.
  4. Remove the funnel and put it back in place to keep rainwater from washing away the copper sulfate and hiding where you have poisoned the tree.

If you have a smaller tree to get rid of, you can try using copper nails to kill the tree.

  1. Hammer a copper nail downward and at an angle into the target tree’s base.
  2. Copper nails come in various sizes, but the more length and width the nail has, the more effective the treatment will be.
  3. The deeper penetration revealed by a longer nail indicates that the tree is more vulnerable to infection.
  4. Continue driving nails about a half-inch apart in a ring around the tree. As a result, more growth cells will be destroyed, increasing the concentration of copper in the tree.
  5. The likelihood that the metal will oxidize and poison the tree increases with concentration.
  6. The only trees that can be killed by one nail are young trees like seedlings. The presence of a single nail is easily tolerated by larger trees, which will grow over it with no damage.
  7. To conceal the copper nails, cover their heads with mud or dirt. Tree trunks reflect the bright light of copper because of its vivid color.
  8. Covering the nails helps keep the yard looking as it should and hides the process from passersby.
  9. Before doing anything with the tree in terms of removal, remove the nails from the dead tree if it dies.

killing a tree

Alternative Ways to Secretly Kill Trees

You still need to wear safety equipment such as glasses, gloves, and more to kill a tree with no one knowing.

Here are alternative ways to kill a tree with little effort from anyone.

Chemical Herbicide

Usually, after a tree is cut down, you begin drilling holes in the stump and roots where a tree killer like Tordon is used.

However, you can use the same technique to secretly poison a tree.

  1. Drill holes in exposed roots; you can expose buried roots if you don’t want anyone to know. Any drilled holes can be filled and hidden under the soil’s surface.
  2. The tree roots can then be treated, yet it may take several applications to see results.
  3. You can inject herbicide by drilling into the tree’s lower trunk. Use a piece of bark and glue to hide the hole if you need to hide the areas.
  4. While the holes are still open, drill holes around the tree and apply herbicide.
  5. Spray a strong herbicide on tree leaves and foliage on dry days to prevent it from blowing onto nearby trees and plants you want to keep.

The best time to apply herbicide to standing trees is in the fall. As the leaves fall, tree sap flows downward, carrying pesticide to the tree’s roots and killing it.

Sap rises in the spring, and herbicides will kill leaves and branches, but roots persist.


Many chemicals can kill trees. For example, to poison the roots, you can drill holes in them. This is a good choice if you want to kill several nearby trees or don’t mind sacrificing a few to kill one.

Drill holes into the tree’s root system and place flag poles inside a PVC tube until you have dead trees to destroy a tree covertly. You can even apply tree killers to the roots using PVC to prevent them from seeping into the soil.

It’s essential to remember that when you apply poison, you could kill the tree, your lawn, and other garden plants. One thing to note here is the use of a product called Gordons Stump Killer.

If you have a tree close to the one you wish to get rid of, you can apply this, and other trees in the vicinity could also die. It may or may not work, but if secret tree killing is your aim, this could be a solution. (Learn How To Kill Fungus On Trees)



High doses of rock salt or Epsom salt are other methods to kill trees. However, Epson Salt can cause nearby grass and other plants to die. You can create a salt-filled hole next to your tree. In this method, a lot of salt would be helpful, but fortunately, it is not expensive.

The grass around the large tree may wither as a side effect. As with other holes, you can drill a few inches deep and mix half-boiling water and salt. With a cut deep, Epsom salt will dry the tree from the inside out, killing the tree with no one knowing in high dosages.


Vinegar burns plants, tree tissues, and leaves. Horticultural vinegar has 20% acetic acid compared to white vinegar’s 5%. While vinegar won’t kill a tree directly, it harms leaves enough to prevent photosynthesis and can also harm the tree’s roots.

Getting vinegar to the roots speeds up the process, so like adding other liquids, drill holes in the roots and fill them with vinegar. Using vinegar with salt improves results and is one thing what kills trees quickly, as a large tree could die in a month if you add enough white vinegar and salt.


It’s an excellent method for removing a tree. Muriatic acid, hydrochloric acid, or sulfuric acid can all be used to kill a tree without anyone seeing it. All provide effective results, but muriatic acid may be simpler to get. Pour acid around a tree’s base at night to destroy it.

Keep in mind that it emits dangerous fumes. Therefore, stand downwind while pouring it.


Trees and plants need soil, fungi, and bacteria to survive, and bleach kills such bacteria. Pouring bleach around the roots kills the tree slowly yet makes the surrounding area smell as you apply your secret tree killer. (Learn How To Remove Pine Needles From Mulch)


Metal oxidizing will poison the whole tree if you’re not in a hurry to kill that unwanted tree. So instead, whack in the nails, and cover the nail heads so no one can see what you have done. Just remove these once the tree dies. Copper sulfate may work faster, but it will get into the water supply, and over one tree will die.

Another way is to keep wet soil around the tree. With enough water, you can suffocate the roots, although it could cause further issues and be hard to control around the target tree. It is worth noting that each of the above methods is an effective method to kill stumps.

Use the same application method to kill tree stumps; before long, you’ll have a dead tree stump to deal with. However, use the wrong method to kill your stump or tree, and you’ll also kill all the plants surrounding it.

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