Can You Use Copper Nails to Kill A Tree?

People have been using copper nails to kill trees for quite some time. But there is a lot of confusion regarding whether this technique is effective or not. And if it is, then what is the correct method of using it.

Should copper nails be preferred over other killing techniques? Let’s Find out!

It is not scientifically proven that copper nails are effective to kill a tree. To test this theory out, you have to hammer the copper nails into the trunk, base, stump, or roots of the tree but this process can take a really long time to show any results. It is also not certain how many copper nails are necessary and if it will show any results or not.

If you need to remove a tree from your property or trim it, you can use our form on the services page to get estimates for the job.

can copper nails be used to kill a tree

How Long Does It Take to Kill A Tree with Copper Nails?

Although copper nails can be used to kill a tree, it is not a very effective method of doing so. Using copper nails is not a sure-shot method of killing trees, usually, they don’t work, especially if you are dealing with a really large tree.

Small trees and plants can be killed using copper nails but even then, it can take anywhere from 4-5 months to up to a year to effectively kill them. Large trees, on the other hand, can take multiple years to die, and that is, even if they die.

Some trees like monocots, which include palm trees will take even more time and more copper nails to die.

How Many Copper Nails Are Needed to Kill A Tree?

The number of copper nails it takes to effectively kill a tree is a point of contention among a lot of people. There is no exact number here, the answer largely depends on the size and the kind of tree you are dealing with.

Small to medium-sized trees can be killed using up to 10-15 copper nails while it can be a lot more if you are dealing with a large tree. If you don’t see any results within 5 months of using copper nails, you have to use more to get the job done.

Some sources state that the distance between the copper nails should be about ½ inch. So for a tree with a circumference of 2.5 feet, it can take up to 200 nails to effectively kill it. Although this point is not proven, it does give you a ballpark range about the number of nails it will take to kill a large tree.

Copper nails need to be long enough to reach the inner layer of the tree. This is where copper nails can start poisoning the entire tree through its vascular system. The ideal length of the copper nails should be 2-3 inches long.

Where Do You Put Copper Nails to Kill A Tree?

Using copper nails for killing a tree is one of the easiest methods out there. You simply need a hammer and some 100% pure copper nails. In case it works.

To test this out, hammer the nails into the trunk, base, and roots of the tree and that’s it! You only need to wait for a few months and look out for results.

Will Copper Nails Kill A Tree Stump and The Root System?

Yes, they will! The only drawback is that it can take a really long time for them to be effective. If you want to get rid of the stump or the tree quickly, using copper nails is not the ideal method for doing so.

If you are looking for more surefire ways to kill trees, read my article about What Kills Trees Quickly.

Why Do Copper Nails Kill A Tree?

Copper nails kill a tree basically due to the oxidation of copper into other compounds like CuO, CuO2, etc. which act as poison for the tree. The concentration of these compounds needs to be at least 30 parts per million to be effective. This is why it can take a lot of nails to effectively kill a tree with copper nails.

If the tree is small, go for it, but if you do not have time to play around, depending on the species, choose a better method for doing so. I have a plethora of articles on how to kill different tree species.

What Kind of Nails Will Kill A Tree?

Make sure you are using 100% copper nails. There are a lot of nails in the market which is made up of some kind of copper alloys or other mixtures.

The nails also need to at least pierce the cambium of the tree, so make sure they are at least 2-3 inches long.

Does A Rusty Nail Kill A Tree?

There doesn’t seem to be any consensus among the agricultural community regarding this point. Although it is the oxidated by-products of copper that cause the most harm and rust technically is copper oxide as well.

However, If we talk about regular iron nails, I have never seen regular rusty nails kill or even slightly harm a tree.

Is Using Copper Nails to Kill A Tree Better for The Environment?

Yes, they are, using herbicides, salt, Epsom salt, diesel, motor oil, or any other chemicals that can affect the surrounding vegetation and organisms.

Regular chemicals can also leave long-lasting effects on the soil if used in large quantities. Using copper nails on the other hand only requires you to hammer them into the tree, and hope that it works.

If you do not want to harm the environment, and copper nails do not seem to work, here are a couple of natural homemade recipes for tree-killing.

Is It Recommended to Use Copper Nails to Kill A Tree?

No, it is not! the amount of time and the number of copper nails it can take ends up making this method quite inefficient.

Although it is better for the environment, using herbicides or other chemicals to kill a few trees will end up being much more efficient and effective.

Small doses of herbicides dissipate quite quickly so even the environmental dangers are small.


Copper nails are not an effective or efficient method of killing trees. They can take a really long time to show any results and there is no clarity regarding how many nails will you need.

Scroll to Top