Removing a troublesome tree trunk is often a matter of a chainsaw and determination, but freeing your property from stubborn roots is far more complicated. However, if you want to protect your yard and house from damage, you don’t have a choice but to take on this daunting task.
But worry not! This article will explain how to kill tree roots quickly and efficiently. Whether you want to remove the whole root system or zap the roots causing problems, we have you covered. We’ll guide you through the most effective methods to ease the process.
So, let’s get started!
You’ve Cut a Tree, Now What?
Tree stumps and roots — the leftovers of cut–down trees are not just an obstacle to a stylish backyard design but also a threat to your property and nearby plants. If left in the ground, the root system and stump will likely rot and decompose within a few years.
A rotting stump can attract pests, fungi, and bacteria that spread diseases to other plants. Plus, if not sped up, this process can take a toll on the soil quality in your garden, making it hard to plant new inhabitants, even grass.
But, the number one reason to learn how to kill tree roots is to prevent them from growing. What’s worse than a stump that dies off naturally is one that can sprout a new life into the roots and make them grow.
Growing roots can damage anything from your pavement and driveway to pipelines or your house’s foundation. So, let’s get to the methods you can use to prevent this disaster.
Chemical-Free Ways to Kill Tree Stumps and Roots
Get Rid of Sprouts Promptly
As said, killing a tree stump doesn’t always lead to a root system demise. Roots can use the nutrients they have stored and produce new sprouts.
On the other hand, leafy sprouts can produce nutrients needed for root growth, and the life of a tree can continue to reach full size!
So, to kill the roots of a sprouted tree, you’ll need to deal with the sprouts first. By cutting these as soon as they appear, you’re not giving the roots a chance to grow and damage all they get their grips on.
If you don’t fancy the process of repeatedly cutting tree sprouts, you can spray some undiluted white vinegar on top of them (10%–20%), and they’ll wilt within hours.
Kill Small Tree Roots by Digging Them Out
You’ll need nothing more than a few gardening tools to remove small trees and their roots. Start by digging a trench in a close area around the stump or the tree. Dig enough to loosen the soil and free some of the biggest root branches.
Then, cut off some of the biggest root branches, rotate, and pull the trunk out of the ground. Then, you can pluck out all the roots that are left behind.
Get Rid of Tree Roots With Boiling Water
You don’t need chemicals to deal with small to medium-sized tree roots if they’re shallow enough; You can kill them with boiling water instead.
However, you’ll need to expose as much of the root system as possible to do this.
Then, you’ll have to drill holes into the bigger root branches and the stump. Keep your electric tea kettle nearby, and pour hot water on the stump and roots. This should do the trick.
Sun-Blocking — The Easiest Natural Way to Kill Tree Stumps
For plants, no light means no life. So, all you have to do to prevent roots from growing after removing root sprouts is to cover the stump with a sunlight-blocking cover. Simply cut it down as close to the ground as possible, and spread a plastic bag, tarp, or landscape fabric over it.
You can also put your creativity to work — use a decorative bucket or something else to cover the stump and kill the tree roots naturally. This can be the perfect place to put gorgeous flower beds.
Sunlight-starve the stump by putting your compost pile over it. Plus, there’s the added decay speed boost with compost microorganisms. Moreover, this doesn’t have to be a compost pile but an elaborate composting container that incorporates the stump.
Light a Stump-Fire
If you don’t have the time (or energy) to dig up roots or axe out stump leftovers, you can get rid of the roots in your yard by burning stumps down.
Just pour some charcoal, fuel oil, or kerosene into the vertical stump holes that you drilled (eight to ten inches in length) and wait a few weeks for total absorption. Then, light a match, throw it in, and wait.
It can take several days for a tree stump smoldering to cease and turn it to ashes. There’s no need to remove the tree roots to ensure they won’t be sprouting again.
That said, you must protect yourself and the area surrounding the stump. Cut the grass and other vegetation, and remove dried leaves, scattered bark, and weeds before you start. Also, secure the area with chicken wire to keep nosy pets and children away.
Hire a Professional
Hiring professionals is the easiest way to remove a tree stump. They’ll likely use a stump grinder machine to chew up what’s left of the stump and even out the surface around it.
However, you should consider a few things before dialing their number or renting the machine yourself. For example, tree stumps close to other trees, buildings, or properties will need a different and probably costlier removal method.
How to Kill Tree Roots With Household and Retail Chemicals
A freshly cut tree stump is an open way through which you can reach all the branches of the root system. So, the most effective root-killing chemicals penetrate the stumps and roots, killing them in one go. However, not all of the usual household chemicals will work.
For example, spraying bleach does sterilize the stump, but it doesn’t penetrate it enough to deal with the roots, and sprouting is likely to occur. That’s why killing tree roots with bleach isn’t a good idea, but the following are some of the best ways to get the job done.
Herbicides — Preferably the Last Resort
One of the most effective ways to finish tree roots is to spray them with a herbicide. However, systematic herbicides, especially those containing glyphosate, are a threat to human health.
Your to-do list when using such (or any) powerful herbicides should include reading the instructions for use and wearing protective gear such as a mask, long sleeves, gloves, and goggles. Take extra care when handling them, and avoid windy days.
Should You Be Killing Tree Roots With Salt?
Both of the most used — Epsom and Rock salt kill trees and their roots the same way — by drying them out. You can get rid of the stump and roots as fast as six months!
First, first drill the stump with as many holes as you can, at least three inches away from the rim.
When killing a tree with salt, you should sprinkle it generously on top of the stump or root holes and add water to dilute the salt. Finally, cover the stump with a waterproof covering to prevent rain flushing salts out.
Like Rock salt, Epsom salt works by sucking out all moisture from the plant tissue, which is why it’s a successful tree-killer. But although a highly effective option, salts are dangerous for the surrounding plants because they can drain them and the soil out of essential minerals.
How to Stop Tree Roots From Growing and Damaging Your Property
However effective and quick, using chemicals to eliminate tree roots should be used after thoroughly investigating the substance you intend to use. If you like your garden, it’s best to avoid chemicals toxic to the environment.
But if you’re faced with root-clogged pipes, using chemicals is your only first-aid option. These easily-available liquid mixes zap a tree and speed up stump decay, but there are also ways to modify root growth without killing the plant.
Here are some of those.
What Can Easily Kill Tree Roots in a Sewer Line?
If you suspect that a tree root has gotten into your sewers, there are several things you can do to kill it and make things flow again.
Flushing copper sulfate (blue vitriol) down the toilet is one option. Since it is potent, you can use it in small amounts.
Alternatively, you can flush rock salt or a homemade mix of hot water, vinegar, baking soda, and table salt. There are also some commercially-available solutions. If tree roots keep invading your pipes, you should consider physically removing them.
How to Stop Tree Roots From Growing Under Your House
If they’re close enough, large tree roots can and will damage your house foundation if left to uncontrollable spread, and other property is on the line too. Luckily, there are a few ways to eliminate problematic roots without harming the tree.
The most effective one is installing a physical root barrier that prevents roots from reaching the house’s foundations. Chemical barriers also exist, but these are not recommended if you don’t want to kill a tree. Another option is to use commercially available root growth inhibitors.
Luckily, keeping your land and house safe from tree root damage doesn’t always mean a death sentence for the tree. Instead, you can use these tips to tame and eradicate pesky tree roots with minimal sweat and no harm to other plants.
So, wait no more! Reclaim your yard, and save your property from root calamity.
Will vinegar kill tree roots?
When used in dry weather, 10%–20% white vinegar instantly eliminates root sprouts; However, it’s not as effective in killing robust tree roots. Vinegar burns through the plant tissue, but to kill stumps and roots, you’ll have to drill holes into them and pour big amounts more than once.
What kills tree roots quickly?
Chemical herbicides like those containing glyphosate are quick to kill tree roots (several weeks), but so are the more environmentally-friendly methods like Epsom salt and rock salt. On the other hand, copper sulfate can kill the roots that invade your sewage pipes within a week.
What home remedy kills tree roots?
Epsom salt and rock salt will do an effective job in killing tree stumps and roots. You can also make a foaming solution of hot water, vinegar, baking soda, and table salt. Spray the mix on top of the roots, or flush it down the toilet. Repeat several times until the clog is no more.
Will bleach kill tree roots?
Bleach can’t penetrate tree roots through the stump, so it’s ineffective in killing them. That said, concentrated bleach can damage young and smaller trees beyond recovery and kill them. However, using bleach can create a bigger problem — raising the pH value above optimal.
How do you stop tree roots from growing back?
Killing the stump and all root sprouts will halter growth and kill the tree roots. Cutting the root close to the main root for some living trees will do the trick.
You can also treat roots with growth inhibitors or install a root barrier. Herbicides are effective in stopping root growth, but are toxic to humans and other plants. This is why a piece of good advice on how to kill tree roots always involves natural methods.