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How to Kill Leyland Cypress

cypress-pine image by Stacey Lynn Payne from

Leyland cypress (Cupressocyparis leylandil) or Leylandii is a rapidly growing evergreen tree primarily used as hedges and privacy screens in landscaping. This hardy tree grows 3 to 4 feet every year to reach a height of 35 to 50 feet and spreads 15 to 25 feet wide. Although the Leyland cypress has somewhat shallow roots that do not necessarily threaten the foundation of nearby structures, sometimes a homeowner has no other option but to kill it and remove it from his or her property.

Thin the tree as much as possible so it is easier to bring down. Cut branches and foliage from the sides of the tree with lopping shears. Determine the direction you want it to fall and check that there are no buildings, power lines or structures in the way.

Make three cuts with an axe so the Leyland cypress falls. Make a downward cut that penetrates one-third of the trunk at a 45-degree angle. Make a second horizontal cut to meet the lowest point of the first one and form a wedge that pivots the Leyland cypress tree. Remove the wedge carefully.

Stand on the other side of the tree and make a final horizontal cut 3 to 5 inches higher than the tip of the wedge. The Leyland cypress tree begins to fall to the other side when the cut reaches a certain depth in the trunk.

Chop the remaining stump with a chainsaw or axe to bring it as close to the ground as possible. Slice the top of the stump several times so herbicide can penetrate quicker into the tissue below.

Pour, brush or spray a glyphosate herbicide over the cuts in the stump so it reaches the roots of the Leyland cypress and kills it. Inspect the tree for signs of dying every second day, and reapply the herbicide for up to a week to make sure you kill all the roots.

Dig a trench around the stump with a shovel and remove it from the soil. Sever all the dead roots into smaller pieces and lift from the soil as well, ensuring no piece is left behind. This prevents the Leyland cypress from resprouting.


Check to see if any permits are required prior to felling and killing a tree. Rules regarding chopping trees vary in different areas. Chop the trunk and branches of the fallen Leyland cypress into smaller sections and use for firewood. Remove the stump immediately to prevent it from naturally healing the exposed wound and growing back. Wear gloves and a face mask when handling and using herbicide. Follow manufacturer directions.

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