How to Kill a Poplar Tree?

How to Kill a Poplar Tree

Poplar trees are easy to nurture but hard to get rid of! Why? Because their height and weak root system do not leave room for tree cutting. But once it becomes invasive or diseased, you must kill it. Or else it damages the structures and soil around it.  So, how to kill a poplar tree?

Spraying herbicide on the leaves and lower trunk slowly kills the tree. Also, injecting chemicals works well to decompose it. But choosing the right season and day is necessary for the methods to work. Let’s give better insight into that!

Why Should You Kill a Poplar Tree?

As much as poplar trees add beauty to the surrounding, they also possess the threat to damage the nearby structures. And if you face these below-listed problems with poplar trees, ensure to get rid of them:

How to Kill a Poplar Tree
  • Poplar trees have a shallow or weak root system that cannot withstand constant storms. So if you are in stormy regions, kill the trees right away.
  • If the tree leaves wilt and the bark peels off, it is an indicator that the tree is diseased beyond treatment. Before the disease spreads, kill it. 
  • Lombardy poplar trees have invasive roots that can damage the landscape nearby. If the structures develop cracks, get rid of the roots and trees.

How to Kill a Poplar Tree without Cutting It Down?

It is not always feasible to fall or cut poplar trees, especially if you do not have a spacious area to discard them. Also, in some areas, it is illegal to cut trees. So, if you want to get rid of them without cutting down poplar trees, here are the surefire methods –

Method-1: Foliar Spray 

Hands down, foliar spray is one of the easiest methods to kill poplar or standing trees. All you need to do is poison the tree leaves to kill the roots gradually. And here are the steps:

Step 1: Preparation

Choose smaller trees that are below 50 feet. It will be easier to access their branches to apply the chemicals.  Get a bottle of roundup and prepare it as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Handle the herbicide-wearing gloves to prevent skin irritation. 

Step 2: Apply the Solution

Fill a back sprayer with the roundup or broadleaf killer solution. On a windless and clear day, spray the mix on the poplar leaves. Make sure you do not spray them over other trees or ground. Or else it can damage the soil structure and nearby vegetation. 

Step 3: Reapply the Mix

If you have applied the first dose of chemicals in spring or summer, you do not need to reapply the solution. Otherwise, after every 3 weeks respray the solution. It will speed up the killing process. Within a month, the roots will root and the tree will die.

If you want a piece of high-end spraying equipment, watch the video:

Method-2: Inject the Tree

For killing larger poplar trees between 50 to 150 feet, you can inject them with toxic herbicide. It is a less messy method than other workarounds. All you need is to go through the steps:

How to Kill a Poplar Tree
  • With a half-inch drill bit, make 4 cm deep holes around the lower base of the trunk.
  • If possible, drill the holes in a way that they face downward. Thus, it will help them to hold the solution.
  • Place a plastic wrap or tarp over the soil and other vegetation nearby. 

  • Fill a few injectors with Tordon solution.  
  • Push the injector tubes into the drills around the tree. 
  • Leave the injectors as they are until the tree soaks up the herbicide.  
  • Repeat the process every three weeks. Gradually, the leaves will dry out, and the roots will die.  

Method-3: Basal Bark Treatment 

Basal bark treatment is the most effective way to decompose poplar trees. You need to wet the bark with a chemical mix to start the rotting process. The rest of the steps are as follows:

How to Kill a Poplar Tree
  • Cover the soil and grass around the tree with plastic wrap. 
  • Fill a back sprayer with Tordon solution. Ensure to mix the Tordon, as per the instructions on the label. 
  • Apply the solution around the lower trunk base. Specifically, the 12 inches bottom should be covered with the mix. 
  • Once the Tordon transfers to the roots, the tree will die. 

Method-4: Girdling 

Girdling is removing the bark from a small area of the tree trunk. If you are up for manual labor, try these steps:

How to Kill a Poplar Tree
  • With a chisel, make a half-inch deep uninterrupted cut around the trunk. 
  • Place the chisel half an inch below the first cut and make another slit or cut in circumference. 
  • Push a knife or an ax in between the cuts to loosen the bark and peel them off. 
  • Once you remove the bark layer, with a knife, scrape off the woody layer between the two cuts.
  • Now, you can leave the girdling or exposed trunk as it is for a few weeks. 
  • To speed up the decomposition, apply some Tordon over the exposed area. 

In a few weeks or months, the flow of nutrients will be blocked due to the girdling. As a result, the tree will starve to death. 


If your poplar tree is infected with fungal disease, you should try to treat it.  But if it starts affecting other trees and surfaces instead of recovering, it is common to wonder how to kill a poplar tree

I’d suggest not going for tree cutting as the initial solution. Because without a license to cut trees, you may end up getting penalties. So, it is better to slowly kill the tree with herbicides. 

Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q’s):

Will Roundup kill poplar trees? 

It depends on how you utilize the roundup mix. Without applying it to the drills and girdles, it cannot penetrate the roots. So, wetting the tree bark with it will not kill the poplar.

Does killing a tree with salt work for Poplar decomposition? 

Using rock or Epsom salt to kill poplar trees is not that effective. Because it takes 5 to 6 months to start the rotting process due to salt. 

How to kill poplar tree roots? 

Applying herbicide to the trunk holes or leaves gradually kills the poplar roots. But for a speedy process, applying Tordon to the exposed roots can work. 

Md Biajid

Meet Mia Biajid, a passionate nature lover. Particularly, he has a deep-rooted connection to the plant. Mia loves to spend time exploring forests and uncovering the secrets held within trees. He always inspires others to appreciate and protect our precious part of the ecosystem.

Recent Posts