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How to Kill Italian Cypress Trees

By Tracy Morris ; Updated September 21, 2017
Italian Cypress dot the hillside of an Italian farm.

Many people have seen Italian cypress trees in the landscaping of Tuscan-style homes. The trees form tall, narrow columns of dense greenery that are often planted as a framing or accent feature. When planted closely together, the trees also form a hedge screen that many homeowners find attractive. However, the trees may suffer from root rot in poorly drained soil or canker in parts of California, which may cause a homeowner to want the tree removed. The first step in removing an Italian cypress is to kill it.

Cut a ring through the bark around the trunk of an Italian cypress with an axe. This process, which is known as girdling, interrupts the tree’s vascular system.

Mix a solution of 1 part systemic herbicide containing trichlor and 1 part water. Pour the solution into a spray bottle.

Soak the girdling ring around your Italian cypress with the systemic herbicide until the ring is saturated. The tree will pull the solution down to the roots and kill them.

Spray the foliage and trunk of an Italian cypress with an undiluted solution of systemic herbicide.

Wait for the Italian cypress to die. The tree’s foliage will turn brown and the wood beneath the bark will turn gray when the tree dies.

Make a wedge-shaped cut ¼ of the way through the tree’s trunk near the bottom with an axe. The notch in the trunk should be open in the direction that you want the tree to fall.

Make a second cut on the opposite side of the tree just above the point of the first notch. The cut should extend through the tree until it touches the first notch. The tree will fall in the direction of the first notch.


Things You Will Need

  • Axe
  • Spray bottle
  • Systemic herbicide containing trichlor
  • Water


  • Look around the base of a tree before cutting it down and remove any debris that could cause you to trip. You should also plan an escape root along which you can travel in an emergency. Move away from the falling tree along this route to avoid potential injury from the tree trunk should the tree bounce or fall unpredictably.


  • Always use protective clothing including gloves when working with systemic herbicide. Take a shower immediately after using systemic herbicides.
  • Eye protection should be worn when cutting down a tree to avoid getting sawdust in your eyes.

About the Author


Tracy Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Arkansas.