How to Kill Oak Trees

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Things You'll Need

  • Telephone

  • Safety goggles

  • Work gloves

  • Boots

  • Pants and long-sleeved shirt

  • Chainsaw

  • Kosher salt

  • Lighter fluid

  • Matches

  • 5-gallon bucket

  • Water


Use extreme caution when using a chainsaw and around open flames.

Oak trees are very hardy. There are more 400 kinds of oaks, and the wood is used to make furniture, corks, and a multitude of other products. However, oaks are toxic to animals such as horses because they produce tannic acid. When ingested, tannic acid can cause kidney damage and gastroenteritis. Also, as many Americans know, oak leaves just won't dissolve and go away in the winter like the leaves of other common trees, such as maples. Whether you're concerned about disposal of leaves or worried about the health of your horses, these simple steps will help you get rid of oak trees.


Step 1

Call your local township, and ask what days you are allowed to burn yard waste. Schedule your tree-killing accordingly. If you are not allowed to burn, call your local waste-removal company and ask how it prefers picking up tree leaves and limbs. Follow those instructions.

Step 2

Put on safety goggles, work gloves, boots, long-sleeved shirt and pants.

Step 3

Using a chainsaw, cut an inch-deep strip around the trunk of each oak you wish to kill. This is called girdling. Make sure the bark is removed around the strip. If the bark didn't come off with the chainsaw, it will fall off in two to three days. You also can pick away at the bark. The girdling will prevent the tree from transporting nutrients to the rest of it, killing it. Limbs and leaves will begin to drop after about 10 days.


Step 4

Pour kosher salt around the base of each tree. The salt will be absorbed by the roots and begin to kill each tree from the bottom up.

Step 5

Pour water into a bucket, and have it ready if the oak bonfire you are about to create gets a little too big.

Step 6

Clear an area in your yard if you are allowed to burn yard waste. As leaves and limbs begin to fall, you have killed the oak tree. Move all limbs and leaves to the cleared area. Squirt the oak debris sparingly with lighter fluid. Light a match, and toss it into the center of the oak limbs and leaves. Watch until the fire has died out.



Jess Jones

Jess Jones

Jess Jones has been a freelance writer since 2005. She has been a featured contributing writer for "Curve Magazine" and she teaches English composition at a small college in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She received her Master of Arts in English language and literature in 2002.