How to Make a Weeping Willow Die Completely


When many homeowners first plant a willow in their yard, they may be thinking of the tree's graceful form and drooping limbs. But the willow is a fast-growing species that is known for growing larger than the space provided for it. Additionally, willow roots can destroy underground pipes, including sewer or water pipes. Like many fast-growing trees, willow is a short-lived species that can break due to ice or wind. Killing a willow completely before removing it is one of the best ways to avoid having to deal with offshoot plants.

Step 1

Cut a ring into the bark encircling the tree with a hatchet. The ring should be at least 2 inches thick and 2 inches wide--the process is known as girdling. The purpose is to interrupt the willow tree's vascular system, which will eventually smother the tree.

Step 2

Cut a second ring into the bark 4 inches higher than the first.

Step 3

Purchase a systemic herbicide that contains trichlor. Systemic herbicides are carried by a tree throughout their system, killing every part of the tree.

Step 4

Mix a solution of 1 part herbicide and 1 part water.

Step 5

Pour the solution into a spray bottle. Spray the herbicide solution over the girdling rings of the tree until the rings are soaked.

Step 6

Wait until the tree dies. The leaves will fall off and the bark will turn gray.

Step 7

Move all obstructions out of the way before cutting down the tree.

Step 8

Cut a V shaped notch out of the trunk of the tree with an ax or chain saw facing in the direction you want the tree to fall. The notch should extend only 1/4 of the way through the trunk. The point of the notch will be the pivot point from which you want the tree to fall.

Step 9

Make a thin cut through the tree starting on the side of the tree opposite the point of the notch, and slightly higher. As the cut nears the notch, the tree will start to tilt over. Step away from the tree as it falls to prevent being hit by the trunk if it bounces.

Step 10

Spray the cut end of the stump with the systemic herbicide to ensure that the roots of the tree have died.

Tips and Warnings

  • Always wear protective clothing when handling systemic herbicides. Take a shower immediately after handling them.

Things You'll Need

  • Axe
  • Chain saw
  • Systemic herbicide
  • Spray bottle


  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: Salix Spp.: Weeping Willow
  • University of Tennessee Extension: Trees to Reconsider Before Planting
  • Ohio State University Extension: Controlling Undesirable Trees, Shrubs, and Vines in Your Woodland

Who Can Help

  • University of Minnesota Extension: Disease Management Recommendations for Trees and Shrubs
Keywords: killing willow trees, girdling trees, systemic herbicide, girdling willow trees, kill willow tree

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."