How to Kill Fig Tree Roots?

how to kill fig tree roots

Fig trees are prone to withstand shock and stress quite effectively. So, killing its roots can be daunting, especially for new gardeners. That does not mean you need to spend bucks on professionals to know how to kill fig tree roots.

Salty solutions can decompose the roots in a few months, especially when the stump absorbs the mix. Also, there are store-bought chemicals to kill the root system. Not sure when to apply which method? Follow the tips I’ve listed right here!

How to Kill Fig Tree Roots with Home Remedies?

If you want to keep the soil unbothered to grow other plants, it is better to stick to home remedies to kill fig roots. Because chemicals can damage the soil structure, which is not ideal for gardening. Considering that, try these chemical-free steps – 

Step 1: Spread Epsom Salt 

The magnesium and sulfur present in Epsom salt cause the roots to decay in 3 to 6 months. But for this method to work, you need to apply the salt in large quantities. 

how to kill fig tree roots

So, expose the roots as much as possible. And drill 3 to 6 inches deep holes in the lower base and roots. Insert the salt in the holes. For better penetration of the mix, pour some hot water over the applied salt. 

Cover the tree and roots with a tarp. And spread a thick layer of mulch. This is to prevent rain and heavy wind from washing away the solution. You need to repeat the process every few weeks to speed up the root rot. 

Step 2: Use Rock Salt 

Compared to Epsom, rock salt is easier to find. Buy some rock salts that contain 100% sodium chloride. And make wide holes in the fig trunk or stump. Fill the drills with salt and cover them with soil. Tap the soil gently so that it can hold moisture. And spread straws, twigs, and dried leaves over the stump. 

how to kill fig tree roots

Gradually pour water over the mulch and let the salty substance dissolve. In order to help the roots absorb the salty solution quickly, water the trunk every few days. The moist stump will transfer the deadly mixture to the roots, and they will start to decay. 

While watering the trunk for three to four months, you can spread potassium nitrate fertilizer. This compost will promote fungal growth on the fig tree and stump. And this fungi quickens the root decomposition. 

Step 3: Pour Boiling Water

Create holes on top of the fig stump or at the side of the trunk. Then, expose the roots around the soil. Make sure no other plants’ roots are entangled with fig roots. Then, boil some water, and if possible, add some cooking salt to it. 

Pour the hot water into the holes and roots. The heat will cause the tree to stress. And it accelerates the root killing. 

Step 4: Cover with Tarp

Apply this method only if you have felled the tree. Cover the stump with a black tarp to block direct sunlight. You can add mulch or soil on top of the tarp. The goal is to keep the trunk or stump in total darkness. 

how to kill fig tree roots

Without sunlight, no water sprouts or suckers will grow from the stump. In the darkness, the stump and roots will rot and die in a few months. 

Step 5: Girdle 

Girdling the fig trunk will block the nutrients from reaching the roots. As a result, the root system will starve and die. To apply it, cut strips of bark in a circle around the trunk. Use safety gloves while handling the girdling knife

how to kill fig tree roots

Make another ring under the first one. And wait for a few months for the roots to decompose. 

How to Kill Fig Tree Roots with Chemicals?

Natural remedies are safe but slow process to kill fig tree roots. If you want to get rid of them quicker, here are the solutions –

Step 1: Apply Herbicide 

how to kill fig tree roots

Herbicide is beneficial to fig roots but deadly when used in large amounts. Buy triclopyr or glyphosate-based herbicide. Then, follow the instructions on its label to mix the solution. Do not forget to wear safety gear while doing so. Here are some recommendations for good herbicides:

Add the solution to a back sprayer. Then, spray it over the foliage and the exposed root system. Apply the solution every two weeks until the leaves wilt. It is a sign that the tree is dying from the inside. 

Step 2: Use Systemic Herbicide 

how to kill fig tree roots

In order to poison the fig roots, pour systemic herbicide on the exposed roots and trunk. These types of chemicals are most effective in killing medium to large-sized tree roots. Gradually, the tree will transport the herbicide to the roots and damage them. 

Why Should You Kill Fig Tree Roots?

As much as fig trees can benefit you, they can become a mess to handle too. If you are in doubt about whether to kill it or not, consider these factors below –

  • Figs can be harmful to your livestock. So, to keep your livestock healthy, kill the roots.
  • If you cannot manage the fig debris, it is time to kill the tree. 
  • For easy stump removal, killing the roots works better.
  • If the fig trees are growing in all directions and damaging properties, damage the root system. 
  • Also, if you want to grow other plants, remove the tree as it competes with other trees for nutrients. 

Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q’s):

How Many Days Does It Take for the Herbicide to Kill Fig Roots?

It depends on how often you apply the chemicals. If you frequently spray it, the roots will die in a few weeks. At most, it may take more than a month. 

Can you kill fig tree roots with vinegar?

In order to kill small fig tree roots, using vinegar and water mix is ideal. However, it is a slow process as it takes 12 weeks to damage the root system. 

Can fig water suckers keep the roots alive?

Yes, any water sprouts or suckers can revive the damaging roots. As they absorb nutrients and transfer them to all parts of the tree. 


As the fig roots are invasive, many home or yard owners look for how to kill fig tree roots. These spreading roots can take over sewer lines and cause trouble. Before it happens, the smart move is to decompose the roots.

If the roots are already damaging the structure, I’d recommend opting for a chemical solution. Because delaying the process can make it hard to kill the roots. However, if nothing seems to decay the roots, contact professional service.    

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