How do I kill a large tree??

crabjoe(z7 MD)October 24, 2007

It might sound like a strange question, but 1st let me tell you what type of tree it is. It's a tree that kills other trees, the BLACK WALNUT.

I don't want to cut the tree down because I'm afraid the stump and roots will just start to grow again if I don't remove it right away. Plus, I figure removing a stump with dead roots will be much easier then trying to remove a stump from a freshly cut tree. Another added bennie is that my neighbors are pretty protective of large trees; even though it's in my yard. If it's already dead, they'd be happy to see me take it down and replant.

So what's the best way to kill this thing over the winter??

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I would cut it down and drill holes in the stump and fill them with stump killer, if I couldn't afford to have someone with a stump grinder remove it. There is always the possibility you could find someone that would want the tree for the lumber, a woodworker for instance. They might even pay to have the stump ground up.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2007 at 11:31PM
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As I was doing yard work and thinking about how to take down a Tallow tree, I had an idea. Perhaps someone else has experience with this...

For years at Xmas time, my in-laws asked me to install a tree I.V. into the trunk of the tree (as opposed to cutting off the bottom and setting it in a bowl of water. The basics of the I.V. is that a hole is drilled through the trunk of a tree. A hose is fed into the hole through a stopper and the other end is placed in a milk jug or some other container. The tree sucks in the liquid through the tube. I though that something similar could be devised to deliver poison directly into the tree (up the tree and down into the roots.)

Any thoughts?


Here is a link that might be useful: christmas tree I.V.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2007 at 12:20AM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

You should have taken out when it was small! ;) I would find someone that wants the wood and let them take care of it (as long as they know what they are doing and it doesn't kill anyone or destroy any propertY!) Then i would grind the stump out.

I'm saving myself the grief and just bought a little electric chainsaw to take out a 25 foot Green Ash (maybe a 6-8 inch diameter trunk) i have in my backyard. I don't mind large trees, but mine is WAY too close to the house and is just in the wrong spot, plus it doesn't produce fruit i like :) I'll save the wood for my woodstove.

How big is this thing? Walnuts are common around here and i had about 15 of them coming up in my yard this past spring (squirrels).

    Bookmark   October 25, 2007 at 12:55AM
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Take an electric drill and bore a series of fairly large holes around the tree, fairly close to the bottom. Angle the holes downward. Then fill the holes with Roundup or other brush killer from a small pitcher. The tree will have difficulty leafing out next spring, and if it does, it won't be for long.

The tree will still have lumber value, and you may be able to find someone who will remove it for free.

I took down two Carpathian walnuts grafted to black walnut rootstock in my front yard, and the juglone persisted in the soil for about 5 years before I was able to grow flower beds and such in the immediate area. BW's put out a significant number of fine feeder roots.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

    Bookmark   October 25, 2007 at 1:48AM
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Walnut trees don't kill other trees. They are harmful to some vegetables. Sawmills will not usually take any tree in a home grown location. The reason for this is that it may have object in the wood that will ruin their saws. Cut all the way around the trunk and pour brush killer mixed with fuel oil. Tree will be history. Do it before leaves fall. There are companies that will dig the stump out for the roots to make gun stocks. May find some in your area.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2007 at 6:00AM
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crabjoe(z7 MD)

What's the deal with copper nails?? I've kept finding posts where people recommend using them.

Folks, I can't just cut the tree down (Well I guess I could being it's on my property) because my neighbors will have a fit. The tree is about 10 feet from the property line (on my property) and not only does my neighbor love trees, he loves this tree because it helps to keep him from seeing other houses past the tree line. Basically, I gotta kill the sucker before chopping it down.

OK.. Here's the plan, I'm going to go out and drill a few holes in the tree. I'm going to pour Roundup in a couple holes and diesel fuel into another couple. And depending on what the folks here say about copper nails, I'll look at getting some to hammer in.


    Bookmark   October 25, 2007 at 9:47AM
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Don't put copper nails into your walnut tree. They will act very slowly, if at all, because the nails first have to sulphate before anything toxic to the tree is produced. Also, they could be a problem for anyone cutting down the tree, or using it for lumber later.

Skip the diesel fuel too. Diesel will not translocate through the tree's vascular system, but Roundup will. Roundup alone will do the job. Use full-strength concentrate, of at least the 41% or even the 50% available now, and do not dilute it. Don't use the premixed stuff in the spray bottles.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

    Bookmark   October 25, 2007 at 10:20AM
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I concur with Don on this one. Nails and a saw don't mix. If you don't get them all back out, you could jeopardize someone's safety.

What if you scheduled to have it taken down quickly and then come up with an explanation after the fact that the roots were causing you problems. The juglone argument might not fly, but how close is the tree to any structures, plumbing/pipes, etc.? A crew should be able to get it down and be gone in a day.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2007 at 10:31AM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

My BIL tried pounding nails into a huge tree on their boulevard (city owned) and 10 years later, it still stands! You might have to give your neighbor free grief counseling gift certificates for Christmas! I wish all my neighbors would chop down their huge ugly Maple trees (Maple is the Bradford Pear of this city, i swear!).

    Bookmark   October 25, 2007 at 3:07PM
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By all means, do whatever the neighbors want. While you're at it, ask them what color they want you to paint your house.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2007 at 9:08PM
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furo(Zone 5 KCMO)

I have heard that if you auger some holes in a downward angle into the trunk and pack them with rock salt then add enough water to fill that it will quickly die. Have not tried this myself but might on a couple of hackberry trees.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2007 at 9:15PM
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bejay9_10(zone 9/10)

We have just the opposite problem - how to keep the neighbor's from killing trees!

Whenever they walk their dogs each morning. Oh well - their went another palm tree near the curb.

Just my 2 c's.


    Bookmark   October 28, 2007 at 10:56AM
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alan haigh

I have killed large trees with Roundup poured into holes augered into the root-flares at base. I followed the label as far as timing the application- that being when carbohydrates are streaming to the roots in very late summer. I'm not sure timing is critical when application is made this way. If it is, you'll have to wait at least till trees are in full leaf.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2007 at 7:19AM
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All this drilling holes is unnecessary and unproductive.
With any and all of the herbicides, you have to apply it to the cambium layer - the green, living tissue just underneath the bark, which will then translocate the herbicide down into the cambium tissue of the roots, killing the tree.
You can pump stuff into the heartwood all day long, and it won't have any effect - it's not living tissue, merely structural. If you make a girdling cut all the way around the trunk and apply an appropriate herbicide to the exposed cambium layer, the tree will die; some really 'tough customers' may require one or more repeated treatments.
Don't waste your time with the copper nails.
The tree's on your property; you own it; you can have it removed if you so desire. The neighbors have no say in the matter, and if they're disturbed by its removal, they'll just have to get over it. I like walnut trees, but in an inappropriate spot, they are undesirable.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2007 at 10:30AM
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Your advice sounds very sound to me up to the apart about the neighbors having to get over it. I agree he has every right to remove the tree on his property, but in the interest of his ongoing happiness, being right probably isn't the most important thing.

I've fortunately never had a feud with neighbors, but I've heard enough stories to convince me that maintaining peace is worth a hefty premium - even moreso if you are a home orchardist with living plants that are worth a lot more to you than they are in the eyes of the legal system.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2007 at 3:21PM
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alan haigh

Lucky, your part right and part wrong, I think. I have killed trees with the boring technique, it gets pulled down the vascular stream. I wasn't suggesting boring to the heartwood. Have you ever tried it? If you're trying to hide what you're doing from the neighbors I think they might figure things out if they look over their fence and see you girdled the trunk.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2007 at 5:43PM
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I will have to come down with Harvestman on this. One of the reasons I initially suggested the boring and pouring method is the ease and speed of the job, which can be done in less than 15 minutes, even on a large tree. The other is its unobtrusiveness. This may not be the most efficient use of a herbicide, but enough of it will enter the cambium to do the job.

Stripping off the bark to reach the cambium might attract a little more interest from the neighbors. And if you are going to spend the time stripping the bark around a large tree, you might as well strip the cambium too, avoiding the need for herbicide use at all. Also agree with Murky that the more the death of the tree appears to be a natural event, the better.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

    Bookmark   November 13, 2007 at 8:04PM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

Apparently people aren't reading posts all that well here, bore and pour is the ideal method for this application, while some herbicide will be lost to the heart wood the reservoir effect of the hole you bore will help you kill the tree inconspicuously. If your Neighbors ask why you are drilling your tree you can say that it is for you to treat some sort of fungus that you are afraid is going to kill the tree, then when the tree dies you have a ready made excuse.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2007 at 3:00AM
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alan haigh

If you are going to kill a tree by stripping the bark, which I think the consensus is that in this case it's too conspicuous, Lucky has a point about herbicide application. I have stripped the bark of tulip trees that took 2 seasons to die without herbicide. Beech trees and trees that can have root connections to nearby trees can continue for several years. Of course with these you risk killing more than you bargained for with herbicide!

    Bookmark   November 14, 2007 at 7:35AM
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In Savannah, Ga., the city owns ALL the trees even those on private property (at least they did when my story took place). The city would not allow a living tree to be cut down but they will remove a dead tree. My friend's father really hated a huge locust tree growing in his front yard. He solved the problem by mixing up a very strong salt water solution and in the dead of night he'd sneak out and douse the roots. He kept this up till the locust gave up and then called the city which cut it down and replaced it -- with a much less messy specimen.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2007 at 2:15PM
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Savannah sounds a little like a giant homeowners association out of control. Talk about central planning. Beautiful place though.

Yes, you can kill a tree with repeated applications of salt around the roots, but the effects of the salt will linger much longer than one application of a good brush killer applied in bore holes. I detest the application of road salt around here, which the county does at the slightest sign of a snowflake. Not much hope of anyone slowing down to deal with snow.

Well, we've pretty well flogged this one to death, and I am as guilty as anyone. Hopefully, Crabjoe will sort through all of this and successfully eliminate his tree.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

    Bookmark   November 14, 2007 at 3:06PM
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jellyman, unfortunately, we get our share of road salt across the river here in Maryland ...
I don't know if the city still owns the trees in Savannah, but that policy sure saved a number of wonderful old live oaks, part of what makes the city beautiful.
To the city's credit, they also take care of all the trees, pruning, feeding, replacing ... even if planted by the home owner. I just think they went too far protecting the Locust ... which leaves a very sticky mess on the ground. Last spring I talked a friend out of planting one.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2007 at 4:47PM
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I respect you for caring what your neighbors think and feel. More people should try whatever it takes to get along, especially next door neighbors. Too many people have the wrong attitude.
Roundup, applied full strength, just under the bark should do the job. You'll be happy, your neighbors won't blame you and life goes on.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2007 at 10:16PM
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You could try and find a herbicide targetted on that particular species. If its a common nuisance then there should be some kind of herbicide around. If not, then try drilling a deep hole in the trunk and fill it with some kind of dangerous solvent. Remember, the bigger the organism, the higher the dose required to kill it.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2007 at 6:18PM
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goodground(z6 NJ)

"By all means, do whatever the neighbors want. While you're at it, ask them what color they want you to paint your house."

LOL, this is a funny thread! Once I was over with a neighboor and she was telling me about having my house painted, I told her, If you want to paint my house, you can pick the color. :)

One thing I've learned at a young age is that since I haven't been able to please anyone, I quit trying!

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 11:04PM
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goodground(z6 NJ)

And by the way, to answer your question. Why don't you transplant it to his house? No need to cover up and everyone is happy. If he tells you he can't have it, he'll appreciate you offering it to him! LOL

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 11:07PM
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Jellyman & harvestman are onto it.

I've been killing black walnuts on my farm for the last two years. Not a lot of them but perhaps two dozen...alongwith hackberrys, box alders,and ashes.

If there is a misshapen BW near where I want to put an apple....the BW dies.

I have used both methods mentioned....girdling & boring (and a third, 'hack & squirt' ... opening up the bark with a hatchet and squirting in a herbicide.)

I've only used 41% Round-Up undiluted. It will kill the tree within a month. For me I use a 3/8" drill bit and drilled holes, one on each side.....downward angle for about 2 1/2 to 3"...then filled the hole with the 41%RU. Crossbow & Garlon are effective also, however, I have not used them.

I've done this in July and it kills the tree. Girdling will kill the tree, but may take a year to die.

I think given your sense of diplomacy with the neighbors the drill method would suit you just fine.

There are lengthy discussions on killing big trees in the 'Habitat' forums on the website for QDMA. Quality Deer Management Association

    Bookmark   December 18, 2007 at 9:13PM
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