How to Make and Use Homemade Tree and Stump Killer

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As people are becoming more environmentally conscious, they are looking for alternatives to strong and harmful herbicides. There are a lot of homemade tree killer recipes out there, but it can get confusing as to which ones are the most reliable and effective.

Let’s take a look at some of the best homemade tree and stump killers as well as how to use them.

How to make a homemade tree and stump killer?

Most homemade herbicides contain a combination of salt, vinegar, and soap. Each of these ingredients has some interesting properties which aid in killing trees.

A lot of times tree removal is not a DIY project. If you decide not to tackle this project on your own, you can use this form to compare tree and stump removal prices in your area.

Rock Salt (Sodium Chloride)

Salt or Sodium Chloride is a desiccant. This means that it will draw out the moisture from any surface it is applied to. One of the main reasons why it is added to homemade stump-killer recipes is because it will kill some tree species that vinegar doesn’t.

One of the disadvantages of using salt is that its effects can stay in the soil for a long time which can harm the nearby roots of other trees.

How to Use Salt To Kill Stumps and Trees?

Dissolve 2-3 cups of salt in a gallon of water and spray this on the leaves, stems, and roots while some people prefer to drill holes into the trunk of the tree and fill these holes with rock salt. Both of these methods can be quite effective.

Vinegar (Acetic Acid)

Just like salt, vinegar is also a desiccant. It works by removing all the moisture from the top layer of the area it has been applied to. Vinegar is quite efficient at killing small and young weeds, but it’s not effective on mature and more woody plants.


Soap acts as a surfactant. This means that it increases the spread of both vinegar and salt. It also works by breaking down some waxy layers on the leaves so that vinegar and salt have a deeper absorption.

Epsom Salt

While the sulfur and magnesium in Epsom salt can be good for a plant in small doses, when applied in large quantities Epsom Salt can turn out to be poisonous.

All you need to do is mix 6 cups of Epsom salt in a gallon of water and pour this solution into a sprayer. Drill holes or make cuts into the trunk of the tree and spray this solution into these gashes. For a more detailed guide read my post about killing stumps with Epsom salt.

That’s it, this method can be really effective in killing small to medium-sized trees and is especially effective on trees that are evergreen in nature.

Homemade Tree Killer Recipes and how to use them

Some people use the above ingredients without mixing any of them.

The easiest thing to do is to dissolve vinegar or salt into warm water and fill a spray bottle with this solution. Spraying this solution onto the foliage, leaves, and stems can get the job done if you are dealing with a small tree.

There are also more complicated recipes that combine the above three ingredients to increase the efficiency as much as possible.

  1. Take 1 gallon of white undiluted vinegar and mix 1 cup of salt into it.
  2. Add a few tablespoons of soap into this solution.
  3. Fill a sprayer with this solution and spray it on the stump if the tree has allready been cut down. If the tree is sprouting from the stump, spray the solution on leaves, stems and the foliage.
  4. Repeat the process a few times to increase its effectiveness.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of using a homemade tree killer?

Whether you need to use a commercial herbicide for killing trees or a homemade one comes down to two factors- its effectiveness as opposed to the potential harm caused by the herbicides.

It is not new information that commercial herbicides when used in large quantities can harm the soil and biodiversity nature of an area. Even if you have to use it in your backyard, herbicides can hurt the insect ecosystem of that area.

Making a homemade herbicide will be cheaper, especially for smaller projects.

On the other hand, when using a homemade solution, most of the ingredients are something that you consume on a day-to-day basis. On top of this, the environmental effects of this solution are nowhere near that of a commercial herbicide.

When it comes to effectiveness, commercial herbicides do have an edge because of their strength and targeted effectiveness.

If you are only dealing with a couple of trees and plants in your backyard then the effectiveness is not going to matter a lot. The time it takes for a homemade solution to kill a tree will only be a little bit more compared to a commercial herbicide.

If you are working on a large-scale project, then using a commercial herbicide makes more sense.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Use Bleach to Kill A Tree?

Yes, bleach can be used to kill a tree, but it is not designed to do so. Because of that reason, the amount of bleach necessary to kill a tree would turn out to be much more expensive and destructive to the environment than it would be using a commercial herbicide.

Read more: Can You Kill a Tree Using Bleach

Which Is the Least Harmful Commercially Available Herbicide?

Roundup, Ortho (Amazon affiliate link), or Glyphosate is considered to be one of the least toxic herbicides in the market.

Can You Use Mulch to Kill A Tree?

Yes! While mulch is used to increase the health of a tree, using too much of it can stop the supply of oxygen to the roots, and lead to mold growth and insect infestations. Spread mulch around a tree up to 10 inches high and make sure you press down the mulch to make it more compact.


Some of the most effective homemade tree and stump killers are rock salt, vinegar, and soap. Mixing 1 gallon of undiluted vinegar, 1 cup of salt and a few tablespoons of soap will make an effective herbicide. Simply spray it on the foliage, leaves, stems, roots, and stump to kill the tree.

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