Do Copper Nails Kill Trees? (All You Need to Know)

If you have a tree in your yard that you want to get rid of for whatever reason, you may be wondering how to kill it safely.

Copper nails can be used to kill trees without causing too much disruption. By hammering them into the base of the tree in a ring, you can cause copper poisoning and kill the tree.

However, this will only work if you do it properly, and you may have to wait a while if it’s a large tree. Read on to find out everything you need to know about killing trees with copper nails.

Can Copper Nails Kill a Tree?

Yes, copper nails can be an effective way to kill a tree. Often, trees need to be killed because the roots are causing damage to nearby structures, like your home. In some cases, certain species of trees can give off a bad smell too. 

There are a number of ways to kill a tree that you need to get rid of, including using salt. However, many of the other methods will damage the surrounding soil and make it harder to grow anything once the tree has been removed. 

Copper nails can kill the tree without causing that excess damage to the surrounding area. That’s why it is a popular method for dealing with trees. When copper nails are hammered into a tree, the copper oxidizes and turns into various compounds. These cause copper poisoning, damaging the branches, leaves, and roots of the tree and eventually, killing it altogether.

How Long Does It Take to Kill a Tree with Copper Nails?

The length of time that it takes to kill a tree with copper nails depends on the size of the tree and the number of nails that you put in. When properly applied, copper nails can kill a small tree in a matter of weeks. However, for a particularly large tree, you will need to wait for months. The crucial thing to remember is that you need to use plenty of nails and insert them in the right places if you want to speed up the death of the tree.

How Many Copper Nails Are Needed to Kill a Tree?

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When you are inserting the copper nails into the tree, they need to be fairly close to one another. In order to get an idea of how many nails you need, measure the circumference of the trunk. Nails should be spaced around 1 inch away from one another. So, if the tree is 100 inches around the trunk, you will need around 50 nails to kill it.

How to Kill a Tree Using Copper Nails

1. Hammer Copper Nails Into the Base of the Tree

The placement of the nails is crucial. You need to make sure that they penetrate the bark and get into the main bulk of the tree in order to work properly. Start by hammering nails into the base of the tree at an angle, making sure that they are deep into the wood. Leave around an inch between nails. Continue this until you have a ring all the way around the tree. The longer the nails, the better the effect will be.

2. Cover Nails and Wait

This step isn’t entirely necessary but having a tree filled with copper nails doesn’t exactly look great. You can cover the ends with a bit of mud while you wait for the copper to cause disease in the tree and kill it. The time that it takes varies depending on the size of the tree, so check on a regular basis.

The scratch test is the best way to tell whether a tree is dead or not. Take a knife and cut away the top layer of bark. If the tree is still alive, it will be a healthy green underneath but if it is dead, it will be brown. You should also look out for other signs of decay like splitting bark, lack of new leaf or bud growth, and an increase of mushrooms growing on the tree.

3. Remove the Nails and Dispose of the Tree

It’s important to remove the copper nails before getting rid of the tree because they can cause a safety issue for whoever is handling the dead tree. Call the local authorities or a waste company to remove the tree once you have cut it up.

Can I Use Copper Nails to Kill a Tree Stump?

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Yes, copper nails can be used to kill tree stumps too. In fact, it may be easier to cut down the majority of the tree and then kill the stump afterwards, especially if the tree is causing problems. You follow the same method of hammering the nails at an angle around the base of the tree in a ring. In most cases, it will be quicker to kill a stump than an entire tree.

What is Copper Sulfate and What Does it Do to Trees?

Copper sulfate is a substance that can be used to poison trees. It is often used to stop tree roots from spreading into areas where they will cause damage, like sewage lines, but when used in large enough quantities, it can kill a whole tree. However, copper sulfate is very toxic, so pouring it around the roots of the tree will do a lot of damage.

If you want to use it on a tree, it’s best to remove a square of bark and drill some holes into the tree. You can then pour the copper sulfate into the tree through a funnel until the hole is almost full. Cover the hole with the piece of bark again to stop the poison from leaking out and wait for the tree to die.

Final Thoughts

Although some people dispute the fact that copper nails can kill trees, it is possible when you do it properly. The most important thing is that you use enough nails and they are hammered deep into the wood. If you are willing to be patient, it’s a better alternative than using toxic poisons that can damage the surrounding environment.

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