How to Kill A Tree Stump with Motor Oil?

how to kill tree stumps with motor oil

Sprouting tree stumps can be an annoying part of anyone’s backyard. Removing or killing these stumps is a daunting task, especially with invasive species like Poison Ivy. Uprooting stumps will require an excavator or professional help. Chemical herbicides are a good choice, but in case you do not have any? Some people claim to use motor oil as an effective tree stump killer, but how viable is motor oil as a stump killes and how should you use it?

Let’s take a look at how viable Motor Oil is at killing tree stumps and how to use it correctly.

Is Motor Oil an Effective Tree Stump Killer?

Although using motor oil can take a couple of months to kill a tree stump, it is effective at doing so, especially used Motor oil. It can kill off some of the most stubborn root systems while also being easy to use.

One of the advantages of using motor oil is that it is effective on tree stumps of all sizes. It can be used to kill small as well as giant tree stumps.

Should You Use Motor Oil Instead of Commercial Herbicides?

Using motor oil to kill tree stumps is not legal in most places in the world. In short, it is not recommended to use it as a tree killer. You should use herbicides that are designed to kill trees and stumps.

While commercial herbicides can get the job done quicker, they are expensive. Motor oil on the other hand is cheap, that’s why most people opt for it.

How to Use Motor Oil to Kill Tree Stumps?

Using motor oil to kill a tree stump is very simple. All you will need other than oil is a drill and a sprayer or dripper of some kind.

  1. Drill 2-3-inch-deep holes into the tree stump, around the circumference as well as from the top. The angle of the holes have to be downward.
  2. Pour oil into the holes.
  3. If the roots of the tree are visible, drill holes into them as well.
  4. Once the oil is absorbed, pour more motor oil into these holes to increase its efficiency.

One thing that many people recommend after the stump has absorbed a lot of oil is to set the stump on fire. That will burn the stump to the ground so you solve two problems at the same time.

And that’s it! Now you can sit back and watch the tree stump die over time. Keep in mind that depending on the size of the stump, it can take 3-4 months for the stump to completely die.

Though this method works, I advise you to use a real herbicide like Tordon RTU, Relegate or Roundup.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Use Motor Oil to Kill an Entire Tree?

Although motor oil can kill trees, it is not recommended to use oil for that purpose. Motor oil is not very efficient in killing large trees. It can take 1-2 years for the tree to completely die.

Can You Use Used Motor Oil to Kill a Tree Stump?

Yes, you can, but used motor oil contains many impurities after running through the car’s engine, and whether it will increase or decrease its efficiencies is not exactly known.


Motor oil is one of the many options for killing tree stumps: Drill 2-3-inch-deep holes into the tree stump at a downwards angle and pour the motor oil into the holes. Repeat the process a few times. Within a few months, the stump will be dead.

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