How to Remove a Dying Cedar Tree


A dying cedar tree can be a real eyesore on the landscape. As the tree declines, it begins to turn brown and shed both needles and bark. Dead branches may fall, creating a hazard to anyone who walks under them. Worse yet, a sudden storm may push the tree over. Once you determine that your cedar tree is declining, the next step is to remove it.

Step 1

Cut a girdling ring into your tree with an axe that is 2 inches deep by 2 inches wide. A girdling ring interrupts the tree's vascular system and will hasten the death of the tree. This will help prevent new trees (suckers) from forming in the root system of the tree and around the stump.

Step 2

Cut a second girdling ring into the tree 2 inches above the first ring.

Step 3

Mix a solution made of 1 part systemic herbicide containing trichlor and 1 part water. Pour the solution in a spray bottle. Spray the herbicide over the girdling rings of the tree.

Step 4

Allow the tree to die. The needles of dead cedar trees will turn brown and break apart easily.

Step 5

Cut a V-shaped notch into the tree's trunk in the direction that you want the tree to fall. This cut should extend no more than one quarter of the way through the tree.

Step 6

Make a second cut on the other side of the tree slightly higher than the point of the V notch side of the tree. This second cut should extend up to the notch. Once the cut nears the notch, the tree will start to lean over and fall. Back away from the tree at this point to avoid being struck by the trunk if the tree bounces.

Step 7

Cut away branches from your dead tree in sections and carry them away. Then cut the trunk into sections to make it easier to carry away as well.

Step 8

Dig a trench around your stump that is 2 foot wide by 2 foot deep with a mattock. Cut through any roots that you find as you dig. Then lean the stump over and cut through the central tap root.

Step 9

Carry the stump away and pour dirt into the hole left behind by the stump.

Tips and Warnings

  • Always wear protective clothing and gloves when handling systemic herbicides. Do not allow herbicides to splash on your skin and shower immediately after using them.

Things You'll Need

  • Axe
  • Herbicide containing trichlor
  • Water
  • Spray bottle
  • Shovel
  • Mattock
  • Fill dirt


  • Louisana State University Extension: Stump Removal from Home Grounds
  • University of Missouri Extension: Felling, Bucking and Limbing Trees
  • NC State University: Trees: Damage
  • Ohio State University Extension: Controlling Undesirable Trees, Shrubs, and Vines in Your Woodland

Who Can Help

  • North Dakota State University Extension: Questions on: Juniper
Keywords: removing cedar trees, grubbing stumps, girdling trees

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."