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How to Kill Roots

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The roots of a plant or tree feed the vegetation and keep it growing. When you discover an unwanted plant in your yard, you need a fast and effective way to kill it. Killing the roots of the plant is a simple way to ensure that you kill the plant and permanently eliminate it. Without the roots delivering food and water to the rest of the plant, it slowly dies. Killing the roots will kill both plants and trees of different types. You must first locate the roots of the plant.

Dig around the base of the plant or tree, exposing the roots. Dig a trench around the roots with a shovel. This keeps treatment confined to the roots you wish to kill and prevents treatments from affecting other plants.

Cover the roots with salt. Salt will kill almost anything it comes into contact with, including the plant roots. Apply more salt after every rain because rain transforms the salt into harmless saltwater and will prevent the salt from working effectively.

Coat the roots of the tree or plant with herbicide. Spraying the herbicide on the roots causes the plant to absorb the herbicide and spread it through the rest of the plant.

Pour mulch over the top of the roots. Mulch essentially suffocates the roots of the plant by blocking the roots from obtaining the nutrients the plant needs for survival.

Drown the roots with water. Keep pouring water on the roots until you thoroughly saturate the surrounding ground and the water pools in the bottom of the hole. Plants and trees need water to survive, but too much water will kill them.

Selectively Kill Tree Roots

Mark the roots you want to cut using colored chalk dust or spray paint. Use a shovel to dig into the soil around the tree, exposing the roots you want to kill. Brush the soil away from the root with your hands, and use a trowel to remove the soil from under the root so you can cut it more easily. For shallow-rooted trees, digging by hand may be sufficient to expose the roots. Cut through the root using a hatchet or root saw. Fill in the hole where you removed the root with dirt and tamp it down firmly with your hands or feet. Cut only one or two roots at a time to prevent any major damage to the tree. If the branches begin to die or the tree begins to lean, you may need to cut down the tree entirely to prevent it from falling on its own. Repeat the process of killing and removing one or two problems roots if you are able to determine that the first round did not injure the tree.


Consider cutting into the roots of the plant, chopping off the ends. The exposed ends absorb more of your treatment.

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