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How to Kill Scrub Oaks

By Dale Yalanovsky ; Updated September 21, 2017
Scrub oaks are hard to kill, but it can be done.
oak image by Pali A from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

Scrub oaks are considered a poisonous plant in pastures for grazing animals. Although wild animals such as squirrels and deer love them, scrub oaks contain a substance called oak tannins which are considered toxic for livestock when ingested. The buds, leaves and acorns are the most toxic parts of the plant, and for successful use of pastureland, all scrub oaks must be removed before livestock are allowed to graze in the pasture.

Chemical Removal

Fill a garden sprayer or equivalent with water and a 50 percent mix of 2,4-D herbicide (chemical name 2,4-dichloro). This can be found at any farmers supply store.

Locate the scrub oaks to be cleared.

Spray the scrub oaks heavily with the mixture in your sprayer. Be careful to limit the spray to the scrub oaks, because any other plant sprayed will die if sprayed with 2,4-D. Scrub oaks are hardy, and may require three applications of herbicide until they are finally eradicated.

Manual Removal

Put on a pair of thick leather gloves for protection.

Locate the scrub oak on your property.

Pull up any scrub oaks or use a shovel to dig the plants out manually, making sure to get as much of the root system as possible. The best time to do this is when the plants are young and developing in the spring. No chemicals are involved in this process, and for organic farming, this is the only method to use.


Things You Will Need

  • Garden sprayer
  • 2,4-D herbicide
  • Shovel
  • Gloves


  • Although not recommended due to the overall damage that ensues, a heavily infested pasture can be "chained" clear of scrub oaks. A heavy chain is attached to the rear of a tractor in loops, and is then dragged across the ground. This action will literally pull the scrub oaks from the ground, roots and all, but it will also pull up every other plant that it runs over, too.

About the Author


Dale Yalanovsky has been writing professionally since 1978. He has been published in "Woman's Day," "New Home Journal" and on many do-it-yourself websites. He specializes in do-it-yourself projects, household and auto maintenance and property management. Yalanovsky also writes a bimonthly column that provides home improvement advice.