Organically killing a tree without cutting it down

Discussion in 'Trees, Shrubs and Roses' started by mccrockett, Oct 25, 2006.

  1. mccrockett

    mccrockett New Seed

    Oct 25, 2006
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    I have a problem willow that sits close to the shoreline of my lakehouse. I can't cut it down unless it is dead. Unfortunately, it still breathes a bit of life. I have heard about cutting and injecting chemicals, but really would not like to introduce chemicals into the water. Has anyone ever heard of using rocksalt or saltpeter injected into holes bored in the tree to kill it?
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  3. eileen

    eileen Resident Taxonomist Staff Member Moderator Plants Contributor

    Feb 7, 2005
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    I really don't know what the affects would be on your birch tree if you injected it with either rock salt or saltpeter. All I know is that salt can be used to kill weeds organically in a garden but I also know that some perrenial weeds come back even stronger after using it on them. Saltpeter I have heard can be used as an ingredient for fertiliser which is used on some farm crops.
    I have heard that girdling is a very good method if you have time to wait. The point of girdling isn't that it kills the tops of the trees, but kills the roots. What you're removing when you girdle is the phloem, (which is the part that transports sugars from the shoot to the root). The top still look fine for a while, because the xylem is intact, and the leaves can still pull water and nutrients from the root. The tops finally die off when the roots die and rot away. The main thing with girdling is to cut off any shoots that shoot from below the girdle line. Problem is though that it can take a few years for a girdled tree to die off completely.

    I found this extract about girdling trees:

    "Girdling trees is a preferred management technique where practical. Girdle large trees in late spring to mid-summer when sap is flowing and the bark easily peels away from the sapwood. Girdled trees die slowly over the course of one to two years and do not resprout. When girdling a tree, the bark and phloem must be removed from a band around the tree trunk and the xylem must remain intact. If girdled too deeply, the tree will respond as if it had been cut down and will resprout from the roots. Girdling can be done with an ax, saw, or chainsaw. Two parallel cuts 3-4 inches apart, cutting through the bark slightly deeper than the cambium are needed. The bark is knocked off using a blunt object like the head of an ax. The girdles should be checked every several weeks at first to make sure they are good and bark does not develop over the cut area."

    Quote from VMG website.

    I have also found some websites that may be of some use to you. ... _organ.htm

    Good luck with your birch. :-D
  4. CritterPainter

    CritterPainter Awed by Nature

    Aug 27, 2006
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    Washington State
    Yep, girdling is what I thought of when I read your post. I've heard that tapping a few copper nails in can help speed the process, but haven't experienced that. I know girdling works because my goats (scowl!) killed a tree that way.

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