How to get rid of Conifer trees?

how to kill conifers thumbnail

Conifer or Coniferophyte trees are some of the most popular species of trees all over the world. This species basically constitutes any tree that produces cones. Christmas trees form a huge part of this species. Even though Conifers are perfect for decorative purposes, there can be a number of reasons why you would want to remove a tree.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways to remove your conifers as well as kill their root system.

Before starting, it has to be noted that in many cases killing a tree, or removing it is not an easy DIY project. If you prefer to get the job done by a local company, you can use our form to get estimates from local contractors.

How to kill Conifer trees?

There are a number of ways you can kill Conifers, including Douglas fir. The methods listed are preferred by most people as they are easy and cheap at the same time. Let’s take a look at some of these methods.

It has to be noted that once the tree has been killed, it will have to be taken down and dealt with accordingly.

  • Foliar Spray: This method is most suitable for trees that are under 15 feet (or 5 meters) tall. Simply spray the foliage with a selective weed killer. Make sure there is no wind that day as the herbicide can be carried far away.
  • Cutting the tree down and treating the stump with Herbicides: This tree killing method is one of the oldest and most used one. Once you cut the tree down, there is a chance it might sprout back. Treating it with herbicides will kill the tree and prevent the tree’s further growth.
  • Gridling or ring barking: You simply have to remove a strip of bark throughout the circumference of the tree and treat it with an herbicide. Make sure the strip of bark is at least 4-6 inches wide. Ringbarking will stop any nutrients from travelling across the tree.
  • Basal Bark treatment: Spray the bottom 20 inches of the tree with a chemical like Garlon XRT. The chemical will absorb within the bark and effectively kill the tree.
  • Injecting the tree with killing chemicals: You will need to drill 2 inches (4 cm) deep holes along the circumference of the tree at a downward angle. After drilling the holes, simply spray or squeeze in some herbicides into the holes.
  • Cut surface treatment: Make cuts every 2-3 inches of the circumference. The cuts in the bark have to be deep enough to expose the inner white surface. Then spray a chemical like Tordon or Roundup into the cuts.

The best way to kill a small Conifer tree

Although you can use any of the above methods for removing a small Coniferophyte tree, Foliar Spray would be the easiest and best method for a small, less than a few feet tall, tree.

  1. Make sure there is no wind during this process as the herbicide can get carried away by the wind.
  2. Use an effective herbicide like Roundup, Ortho or 2,4-D. Which you can find on my recommended products page here
  3. Spray the foliage or the leaves of the conifer tree with the herbicide.

The herbicide will be absorbed by the leaves and transported to the roots, effectively killing the tree over time.

The most effective season to use this method is summer and spring as the foliage cover is high.

The best way to kill a big Conifer tree

When it comes to bigger Conifers, some of the methods can be quite tricky. Factors such as cost, and ease of use have to be taken into consideration. Ringbarking is one of the easiest and most effective ways of killing a Coniferophyte as ringbarking will stop the nutrient flow from the roots to the foliage and branches, killing the tree over time.

What tools do you need for ringbarking? You will need to either get a hatchet, hammer, and chisel or chainsaw for this method.

  1. Simply remove a ring of bark around the entire tree, about 4-8 inches wide.
  2. For extra measure, spray some herbicide along the exposed bark.

You can use this method without herbicide but there is a chance that the tree survives.

This method is also preferred if you want to use the tree as firewood or for furniture purposes because the tree will slowly dry while standing.

Killing a small Conifer compared to a big Conifer – What are the differences?

Some methods of killing trees might just not work with larger trees. One such example is the foliar spray. This method works best when the distance from the foliage to the roots is less. This makes transporting the herbicides and chemicals to the roots faster and easier.

The other major difference is the time taken no matter which method you use. If you use ringbarking for both sizes, the smaller coniferophyte will die much faster. With the bigger tree, you will have to be more patient.

Can you kill a Conifer without cutting it down?

Conifers or coniferophytes can be killed without cutting them down, methods such as girdling, cut surface treatment, and basal bark treatment are quite effective in doing so.

You have to consider the fact that once the tree is dead, it will start decomposing over time and it can fall on nearby property.

Things to consider before removing a tree on your own

  • Do you have the tools the job?
  • Do you have the required skills for the job?
  • Where the tree is located?
  • How big the tree is?
  • Do you need to kill the tree or get it removed completely?
  • Do you need to remove the stump afterward?

Let the professional do the job if the tree is big and you do not have the skills necessary to kill and remove the tree yourself. Large trees can be pretty tricky to remove, especially if they are located near a residential area. There can be a lot of logistical issues along with safety concerns.

Should You Hire a professional tree removal service?

One very important factor to keep in mind is that even once the tree is dead or killed, you will have to remove it at some point.

This might not be an issue if you are dealing with smaller trees but for larger conifer trees, it can get quite tricky. You will have to figure out how to safely get the tree cut and transported, especially if it is located near your house or near electrical lines.

On top of this, the cost factor also plays an important role. Figuring out all of these separate logistical details can turn out to be costly.

Take a look at my tree removal cost guide here.

Or Use this form to get estimates from local tree-removal service providers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will bleach kill a conifer tree?

Although bleach can seriously harm a tree, it is not an effective method for killing a conifer tree. It does not infiltrate the root system of the tree; this means that leaves might fall off but the chemical won’t be able to reach the roots.

What is the best time of the year to kill a conifer tree using herbicide?

The best time to kill a conifer or coniferophyte using herbicide is during the fall. The sap tends to move downwards during this time. Because of the sap movement, the chemicals will more likely reach the roots.

Do copper nails kill conifers?

Copper nails do have a tendency to kill conifers. Just like girdling, you have to hammer the nails around the entire circumference of the tree.


There are a number of ways of killing Conifer trees but the easiest method for small conifers is considered to be foliar spray while for bigger trees you should stick to girdling. This is easy, cost-effective, and efficient.

Recommended reading:

Scroll to Top