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How to Kill a Tree on a Fence Line

By Jennifer Eblin ; Updated September 21, 2017
Kill unwanted trees regardless of their location.
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Fence lines act as property lines, showing where your property ends and your neighbor’s land begins. Killing trees in areas like this is a risky proposition. You must make sure that the tree sits entirely on your yard and you must avoid killing any trees or vegetation growing in your neighbor’s yard. The best method of killing trees on fence lines involves working on one tree at a time, which reduces the chances of herbicides or chemicals reaching other trees and vegetation.

Step 1

Cut a small line around the middle of the tree, cutting through the bark to the tree underneath. Move the saw down a few inches and cut a second line around the tree. Strip the bark in between the two lines, exposing the inside of the tree.

Step 2

Dig up the ground around the tree until you expose the root system. Cover the roots with a thick layer of mulch. Use at least one foot of mulch on top of the roots. The mulch suffocates the roots and stops the roots from gathering and transporting water and nutrients into the tree.

Step 3

Create a series of small holes and slashes in the tree, using the handsaw and the electric drill. Cut slashes into the tree with the handsaw and drill small holes approximately one-inch deep into the tree. The number of marks needed depends on the size of the tree and how fast you want it to die.

Step 4

Spray the exposed area of the tree with herbicide. The tree absorbs the herbicide and spreads it through the tree, which helps quicken its death. Use an herbicide that contains glyphosate, like Roundup or a triclopyr herbicide, such as Garlon.

Step 5

Dip the paintbrush into the herbicide and paint the chemicals onto the slash marks you made on the tree. Fill in the holes with more herbicide. The tree slowly absorbs the chemicals through the multiple holes and applications, which quickens its death.

Step 6

Place the edge of the handsaw 1 or 2 feet up from the bottom of the tree. Cut the tree down, using a back and forth motion as you saw through the tree.


Things You Will Need

  • Handsaw
  • Shovel
  • Mulch
  • Electric drill
  • Herbicide
  • Paintbrush


  • For faster results when cutting down the tree, use an electric saw.
  • Ask a friend or neighbor to keep an eye on the tree during cutting in case the tree starts falling onto the fence.


  • Wear protective gear, including goggles and gloves when handling the herbicide.
  • If you worry about killing trees on the other side of the fence, then cover the fence with a plastic tarp. The tarp blocks any of the chemical spray from moving over the fence and possibly killing other vegetation.

About the Author


Jennifer Eblin has been a full-time freelance writer since 2006. Her work has appeared on several websites, including Tool Box Tales and Zonder. Eblin received a master's degree in historic preservation from the Savannah College of Art and Design.