How to get rid of a Fir tree

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Firs or Abies belong to the evergreen coniferous family of trees and they can be found in almost all the medium to high altitude forests around the world. They have a few distinguishing factors such as candle-like cones and the leaf needles being singularly attached to the base of the leaf. They can grow to epic proportions, sometimes reaching upwards of 250 feet in height.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can use to kill Fir trees as well as their root system

How to Kill Fir Trees?

When it comes to killing conifers, including Fir trees, there are a lot of methods to choose from. Each of these differs slightly, in terms of the cost or the time taken to kill the tree. A large part of choosing the method depends on your preferences.

Some methods to kill Firs:

  • Foliar Spray
  • Cutting the tree down and treating the stump with Herbicides
  • Gridling or ring barking
  • Basal Bark treatment
  • Injecting the tree with killing chemicals
  • Cut surface treatment

Soon I will publish a guide discussing each of the mentioned methods in detail.

It should also be noted that these are mostly just the killing methods, depending on where the tree is located, you will have to cut down and remove the tree once it dies.

The best way to kill a small Fir tree

Abies are considered to be slow-growing trees. Because of its evergreen nature, the tree will maintain good foliage all year round. This means the Foliar Spray method would be easy to carry out.

This method requires a herbicide to be sprayed on the leaves. The herbicide will get absorbed by the foliage and kill the tree over time.

While dealing with Abies, you might have to coat the tree a couple of times because needle leaves have less of a surface area to absorb the chemicals.

See my recommended herbicides here.

  1. You will be needing a sprayer and a herbicide such as Roundup.
  2. Spray the entire foliage with the chemical and let it dry out.
  3. Repeat the proccess every other day for a week.
  4. Make sure there is no wind while applying the herbicide as it can get carried away by the wind.

You will only be able to use this method till the foliage of the tree is reachable by the sprayer. As the tree grows bigger, it will lose its effectiveness.

Alternative Method: Basal Bark Treatment

If the Foliar Spray method is ineffective due to the needle-like leaves, you can also try the Basal Bark Treatment. This method can only be used if the trunk is less than 6-7 inches in diameter.

  1. For this method you will need a bigger backpack sprayer for spraying the chemical.
  2. You should go for should be an oil soluble mixture of a herbicide. The ideal proportion for mixing should be 1 part herbicide and 4-part oil carrier. (Deisel or kerosene would be perfect as an oil-carrier)
  3. The best options you can go for is Triclopyr from the list mentioned above. In some states also stronger hebicides are comercially available like: Garlon 4 Ultra, Forestry Garlon XRT, Aligare Trycloper. These are usually more expensive and not beginner friendly.
  4. Once you have the solution, spray the bottom 20 inches of the trunk and let it dry out, repeat this process 2-3 times.
  5. If the tree is on the larger side, slash some parts of the bark with an axe to make deep gashes through tha bark which will help to increase the absorption.

The best way to kill a large Fir tree

Abies can grow to become massive, some trees can easily cross 250 feet in height. This makes it almost impossible for you to cut the tree directly. With large trees, it can also take a really long time for them to die using just one method so you will have to use a couple of different methods in conjunction to speed up the process.

Ringbarking along with Cut Surface Treatment

You should use ringbarking which will cut the nutrient supply to the leaves combined with a Cut surface treatment to speed up the process.

  1. You will need a chisel and a hammer or a saw and an axe to scrape off some bark. It can also be done with a chainsaw.
  2. Remove a ring of bark around the entire tree, about 4-8 inches wide.
  3. Spray some herbicide along the exposed bark. Theretically the tree should die only from ringbarking, but in reality using an herbicide increases the efficency.

Here is one of my posts talking about why bark removal is fatal to a tree.

Once this is done, you can start with the Cut Surface treatment.

  1. A little above where you have girdled the tree, start making deep cuts into the bark of the tree using an axe. The cuts should be made around the entire circumference of the tree.
  2. The cuts should be at least 1-2 inches deep and penetarte the cambium layer of the Fir.
  3. Spray some herbicide like Roundup or Tordon into the cuts as quickly as possible.

Other than Cut Surface Treatment you can also alternatively go for the Chemical Injection technique.

Chemical Injection Method

In this method, rather than making deeply gashed cuts all around the tree, simply drill 2-4 inches deep holes along the circumference of the tree and inject herbicides into the holes.

When to kill a large Fir?

Abies produce cones that break open and release hundreds of seeds. These seeds are aerodynamically optimized, which means that they can travel huge distances.

If you are trying to get rid of Firs in your whole area, you have to kill them before the cones release these seeds. the cones will be released in autumn, so you should ideally kill the tree by summer.

Things to consider before removing a tree on your own

Abies trees have a tendency to grow massive. This can be a real issue while removing the tree once it is dead. Once the tree is cut, you will have to arrange for its transportation, which in case of such a large tree can be a real hassle without machines.

Hire a professional tree removal service

Hiring a professional while dealing with Firs can make the entire process very smooth. A professional will take care of the entire process from killing the tree to removing it off the property. They can also take care of the sap that Firs produce.

If you decide to simply get the tree cut down, you should definitely hire a professional to do it. More so if you don’t have any in the field.

If you are interested in how much such service would cost, check out my tree removal price guide.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you kill a Fir tree without cutting it down?

Firs can be killed without cutting them down. The preferred methods for doing so would be ringbarking, basal bark treatment, or cut surface treatment.

How big do the Abies cones get?

The Abies cones can grow anywhere from 2 to 10 inches long depending on the exact species and growth area.

During what time Firs release the seeds?

The seeds tend to be released during relatively dry weather in autumn but the timing can change depending on the region.

Can Muriatic Acid kill trees?

Yes, it absolutely can. Pour Muriatic Acid over the base of the tree every night for about 10 days. The tree will eventually die due to contamination of the soil and the roots. Here’s an article on how to secretly kill a tree.

How can you make homemade herbicides for killing Abies trees?

The easiest homemade herbicide recipe is using a spray bottle and adding undiluted white vinegar with salt into it.


Firs can be killed using a number of methods. For a larger tree, you will need to use Ringbarking along with either chemical injection or Cut surface treatment. For smaller Abies, you will be using Foliar spray or basal bark treatment.

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