How Can I Kill a Maple Tree?
For best results, girdle the maple tree early in the growing season when the bark is loose and the cambium tissue is active.
The time for the herbicide to take effect and kill the tree depends on the size and thickness of the maple tree trunk and the age of the tree.
Treat the stump with water-soluble herbicide immediately after cutting the tree.
Commonly used as ornamental trees in residential and commercial areas, maples provide wide shade in the summer and display attractive foliage during the autumn months. However, the trees produce many seeds that spread far and wide, resulting in invasive maple seedlings. Remove the majestic maple from your landscape if you want to plant something else in its place. To kill the tree, apply herbicide that travels to the roots.
Position the blade of a chain saw perpendicular to the trunk of the maple tree, 5 feet above the ground. Cut into the trunk by 1 to 1 1/2 inches.
Walk along the trunk of the tree, with the blade of the chain saw inside the trunk, and create a groove all around. The blade cuts through the bark of the tree to expose the stripped cambium layer.
Add water-soluble herbicide to a spray bottle, and dilute it according to manufacturer’s directions. Spray the herbicide over the girdle around the trunk of the maple tree until the exposed surface is completely wet. Walk around the trunk to ensure complete coverage.
Make a 2-inch-long cut through the trunk of the tree, 4 feet above the ground. Use a hatchet or saw to create a downward cut through the trunk that penetrates the sapwood.
Form a series of identical cuts spaced 3 inches apart, all around the trunk of the maple tree.
Add water-soluble herbicide to a spray bottle, and spray over the exposed parts of the sapwood until completely wet. The herbicide penetrates the tissues and disrupts functioning, killing the unwanted maple tree.
Cut the dead or dying tree once the herbicide is effective, leaving the stump behind. Make a 45-degree cut through the trunk that penetrates one-third of it, in the direction the maple tree will fall.
Make another cut parallel to the ground until it meets the previous cut, forming a wedge. Make the cut penetrate the trunk all the way until it meets the lower point of the previous cut. Push the resultant wedge from the trunk.
Make a third cut through the trunk on the side opposite the removed wedge, 1 inch above it. The tree hinges on the remaining wood before falling off.
Remove the stump of the killed maple tree to prevent it from growing back. Dilute water-soluble herbicide, and pour it into a hand-held sprayer.
Position the nozzle of the sprayer over the bark of the cut surface and sapwood. The herbicide penetrates the stump to kill it.
Dig a trench around the stump to a depth of 2 feet to expose the roots. Cut through the roots to loosen the stump. Rock it back and forth to loosen it, and pull it from the soil.
- Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet; Controlling Undesirable Trees, Shrubs, and Vines in Your Woodland; Randall B. Heiligmann
- University of Florida IFAS Extension; Herbicides to Kill Invasive Trees in Home Landscapes; K. A. Langeland; July 2006
- United States Department of Agriculture; Tree Girdling Tools; Bill Kilroy, et al.; May 1999
- University of Missouri Extension; Felling, Bucking and Limbing Trees; David E. Baker, et al.