Published On: Wed, Jan 25th, 2017

Can You Kill Unwanted Trees Using Copper?

There are times where a tree simply has to die. It could be in the wrong place, which means its roots are starting to affect other structures like homes, pools, or driveways. The trees may also prevent sunlight from reaching certain areas. Trees can also choke out native growth, which is particularly common with the stinktree, or tree of heaven, which smells really bad as well. Then, there are trees that drop fruits that can damage your mower. There are numerous ways to kill a tree, but most involve the use of very harsh chemicals, which can also affect the surrounding area. But you can do it naturally as well, particularly by using copper nails. Copper nails are effective and won’t do any damage to the surrounding environment.

photo courtesy of Discovery Channel

How to Kill a Tree with Copper Nails

  1. Clear the base of the tree you want to remove and hammer in the first nail. Make sure it angles downwards slightly. It doesn’t really matter what size nail you use, but the bigger tends to be better as it has more surface. Longer is also good, because it means it can penetrate further. However, since you will be hammering in multiple nails, the length can get in the way.
  2. Keep hammering nails in the base of the tree, forming a circle. There should be about half an inch of space between the nails. In so doing, new growth cells will be more likely to become damaged, and the concentration of copper within the tree itself will be increased as well. The higher the concentration, the greater the chance of oxidization of the copper, which then poisons the tree. Some people believe that a single copper nail is able to kill a tree, but this is incredibly rare and would only work on a very young sapling. Larger trees will simply grow around the nail.
  3. Use some mud to cover up all of the nails’ heads. This doesn’t actually have any benefit in terms of killing the tree, but is more about esthetics. Copper nails are really bright, and your garden will look very strange with all those little orange dots sticking out of the base. If you are a landscape gardener and are killing the tree for a client who wants their garden to look nice at all times, this concealment could be very important.
  4. Once the tree has died, you have to take all the nails out. Only then can you remove the tree. This is a health and safety issue, because the nail could dislodge and injure someone, or it could make its way into a different plan and kill that. Additionally, if you use machinery to remove the tree itself, it could break on the copper nails.

Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that trees will die using copper nails. Sometimes, the tree is so strong that it will simply grow around the copper nails. However, it is always worth a try, as it is a natural way to of disposing of a tree without damaging the rest of the environment.

Author: Anwar Hossain

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