How to Kill Sapling Trees?

How to Kill Sapling Trees

Unwanted saplings across your lawn or garden can make other plants starve. So, before they grow up, you should get rid of them. But the problem is they vary in trunk sturdiness and height. Therefore, you need to learn how to kill sapling trees that are of different ages and sizes. 

Pulling out the saplings with their roots can kill them. But sometimes, mowing and digging them out works better.  If you have never handled these young plants, it can get confusing when to imply which method. For clarity, I will explore each method precisely!

How to Get Rid of Tree Saplings Naturally? 

Sapling trees are more tender than adult trees. Hence, before they grow beyond 3 feet, you can naturally get rid of them without any chemicals. And here are 4 natural effective methods to do so –

How to Kill Sapling Trees

Method-1: Mow Down 

If the saplings are growing on your lawn, you can consider mowing them down. But make sure they are young and small enough before you start the mower. With a lawn mower, all you have to do is:

How to Kill Sapling Trees
  • Check whether the mower has the proper oil level or not, and lower its blades to reach the saplings easily.
  • Clear any objects and tools around the lawn. 
  • In a straight pattern, mow over the saplings to remove them.
  • Do not overdo the process, as it can damage the health of your lawn. 
  • If the saplings do not come off the ground, after a week, mow again. 
  • Several mowing will weaken the sturdy saplings. And once they come out, discard them.

Method-2: Dig Out 

Mowing does not work on saplings that have grown solid trunks. It mainly happens if the sapling trees are a year old. In that case, you need to dig them out with the process described below:

How to Kill Sapling Trees
  • Water the soil around the sapling trees to moisten them. 
  • With a shovel, remove the soil around to loosen them. 
  • Take a hand ax and dig the soil to expose the root system as much as possible.
  • Then discard the soil. Using your hand try to loosen the trunk.
  • Push the trunk so that it leans at the side, and repeat the step until the sapling falls on the ground. 
  • Once removed, it is better to burn it down.

Method-3: Use Rock or Epsom Salt 

Killing saplings with salt is a slow yet effective process. As the saplings do not have fully developed roots and trunks, they easily soak up the excess salt that kills them. This is how the process goes:

How to Kill Sapling Trees

Step 1: Preparation 

In a bucket, add 1:1 rock or Epsom salt and water. Mix the ingredients together. Spread a tarp or plastic wrap around the sapling. Carry out the process on a sunny day so that water does not wash off the prepared salt mix. 

Step 2: Expose the Roots

With a shovel, remove the soil around the lower trunk of the saplings. Keep digging in the ground until you can see the tender root system of the trees.

However, if you have other plants around, do not dig too deep. Or else it can affect the tangled roots of other plants.

Step 3: Apply the Salt 

Spread the salt throughout the tree roots. And cover the sapling trunks with the mix as well. If possible, pour some hot water over the roots. This way, it will block the flow of nutrients to the young saplings.

After a couple of weeks, the roots will decompose, and the saplings will die due to a lack of nutrients. 

Method-4: Pull Out the Saplings

The easiest way to kill sapling trees is to pull them out. If you have a few young saplings, follow the given steps:

How to Kill Sapling Trees
  • First, hold the stem of the sapling and try to loosen it from the ground. 
  • Once the saplings feel loose, with force, pull them out.
  • Now dispose of the roots so that they do not grow back.

How to Kill Sapling Trees with Chemicals

The natural ways to kill saplings demand manual labor. So, if you do not prefer that, use chemical solutions. And here is the process:

  • Get a bottle of Tordon as this is the best herbicide to kill saplings. 
  • Read the manual or instructions on the product to mix it properly. 
  • Spray the mix over the saplings.
  • Do not let the solution drip on the ground or other plants. 
  • After one week, the saplings will wilt and die.

If you want to know how effective Tordon is, watch the given video:

Can Removed Saplings Grow Back?

It is possible for saplings to grow back, even after you have removed them. It occurs when the root system remains active in the ground. And to prevent it, you will need to dig out the roots as well. The roots may fall on the ground and regrow in saplings. So, burn the roots down. 

Also, wind can place seeds and weeds in your lawn and garden. Some seeds grow into saplings even if you do not nurture them. To resolve the issue, always dispose of the seeds that lay down on the ground. 


As much as saplings make a mess on your ground, they also attract fungus. And before they do any harm to your lawn or garden, gardeners should look for how to kill sapling trees effectively. 

No matter which method you try to kill them, make sure to eliminate the roots as well. Or else there is a chance of their regrowth. Also, avoid overdosing them with chemicals, otherwise, it may kill the nutrients required for other plants. 

It May Also Helpful for you: How to Kill a Palo Verde Tree? If you want to know about different kind of tree removals then click here

Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q’s):

Will Roundup keep the saplings?

If the Roundup cannot penetrate the sapling roots, it will keep the saplings as it is. However, as most young trees are tender, they can easily absorb roundup and die due to excessive herbicide. 

Is it safe for nearby vegetation to kill saplings?

Saplings compete with nearby plants for nutrients. So, it is better to kill the saplings for the healthy growth of other trees. Just make sure the sapling-killing herbicides do not interact with the other vegetation. 

Which is the best method to kill saplings?

If you do not want a lot of mess, applying herbicide is the ideal choice to get rid of saplings. But if you do not want to damage the soil structure with chemicals, digging out the plants is the best method. 

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.

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