Does Diesel Kill Trees? (And Steps to Kill it?)

Even though trees benefit the environment, it is sometimes necessary to take them down. It might be for yard modifications or due to concerns about large branches endangering your home.

But how do you get rid of the trees without using chemicals? You can cut off the rest of the tree, but what about the stump? Does kerosene or diesel kill trees? Maybe they do, or they don’t.

In this article, we will provide an answer to that question. We shall also answer whether diesel can kill tree roots and pine trees. Of course, there’s so much more packaged in your wait today, so read on!

Does Kerosene Kill Tree Stumps?

Tree stump

You can use kerosene to kill tree stumps. Pouring kerosene from a can at the base of the tree stumps is a highly effective technique. The kerosene’s hydrocarbon components react with soil microbes, reducing the soil’s oxygen supply. Letting the oil run is better than spraying it.

Ensure you use enough kerosene to penetrate the tree stump to a depth of 6-8 inches. 

Use less kerosene if the soil around the tree is sandy or porous or if the tree has a single stem. Only tree stumps with multiple branches growing from the ground need a lot of kerosene. The best time to use kerosene to kill tree stumps is when the land is dry. 

Applying kerosene on the top of the stump is another way to use kerosene to kill tree stumps. Pour some kerosene on top of the tree stump as soon as it has been cut. By doing this, the tree won’t be able to begin to grow again.

How to Kill a Tree With Diesel? (Steps)

Many trees will die if you just cut them down. But others, including cottonwood and elm trees, are hardy and resilient and must be poisoned with diesel to die.

If your tree is resilient, it takes a 3-step process to kill it with diesel. Gardeners and landscapers alike use the following tools. 

  • Chainsaw 
  • Reciprocating saw 
  • Funnel 
  • Power drill 
  • Auger drill 
  • Paintbrush 

After assembling your tools, follow the steps below to kill a tree with diesel. 

Step 1: Cut the Tree Down to a Stump

Before you commence the process, confirm that you won’t cause any damage to any buildings, powerlines, or fences before you cut the tree down.

If there’s a chance of that happening, think about hiring an arborist. But if nothing seems to be at risk, begin the cutting by removing the lowest branches, chopping off the other branches as you go up.

From the top, working your way down, slice the trunk into manageable pieces. Leave a stump that you can quickly pull out with a rope.

Step 2: Apply Diesel Fuel to The Tree Stump

When chopping the tree, use a paintbrush to apply diesel to the stump. Using a paintbrush can prevent spilling diesel fuel all over the place.

And please, note that diesel is toxic to plants, humans, and animals. Therefore, you must handle it carefully.

With a power drill, you can drill holes and add more diesel. If you don’t want to drill holes into the stump, invent your own basal bark treatment method.

But in most cases, mere painting will be adequate. Only ensure that you apply the diesel immediately after the tree is cut. Otherwise, the procedure may not work effectively. After being chopped, tree stumps quickly start to heal.

But then, the “diesel method” is incredibly effective for a small tree. A large tree will require more than just diesel. In this case, combine equal amounts of sugar and diesel and thoroughly mix the two to dissolve the sugar. The combination kills the tree stump by preventing it from receiving nutrition.

Note that cutting the tree down to its stump before applying the diesel is effective, but it’s not mandatory. You can also kill the tree with diesel without cutting it down. 


After removing all the branches, make deep gashes or downward holes into the trunk around its circumference. 

And similarly to a stump, fill these holes or gashes with the diesel and repeat the process at least twice the following week to ensure the trunk completely absorbs the fuel. 

Step 3: Remove the stump 

Give the tree stump a few days or up to one week to decompose after topping it with diesel. The fastest way to remove tree stumps is by hiring an expert or purchasing a stump grinder.

The following three methods will help you get rid of the stump:

  • Bury the Stump: After digging a circle around it, cut the stump with a chainsaw so it is below the ground’s surface. Bury the rest of the stump; grass should grow inside and around it. It will eventually decompose.
  • Burn It: Start by cutting vertical lines into the stump in the shape of a hashtag (#) pattern. Apply a bit of diesel on the stump and light a fire. You can only do this if your area has no fire restrictions. Then, cover the burning stump with a drum to stop embers or ashes from igniting nearby vegetation. Don’t forget to cover the stump with soil to prevent fire from spreading.
Common fig tree

How Fast Will Diesel Kill a Tree?

Diesel can kill a tree in a matter of days or even a week if it is just a small tree stump. It may take a few weeks or months for a large stump. In case you opt not to cut the tree, it can take a few months to six months. But throughout those months, you must repeat the diesel application multiple times.

Generally, the time the tree takes to die after exposure to diesel will depend on your approach. If you spray the tree with diesel and choose to wait for the decomposition process to start, you may need to wait for some time. However, if the tree is small and you decide to burn it after applying diesel, one day should be enough.

Another critical factor is the tree’s size. A small tree will require less time to decompose than a large tree. Treating the entire tree or just a stump will affect how long the decomposition takes. A stump will take less time to decompose after diesel treatment than a whole tree.

Will Diesel Kill Tree Roots? 

Diesel will kill the roots. But remember that destroying the roots will also result in the death of the entire tree. Uncover the active roots and drill a few holes. Fill the root holes with diesel fuel. Be careful not to spill fuel on the ground to protect the water sources.

Determine the root you want to cut out if you don’t want to kill the tree entirely. Cut it from the tree by digging it out. Once you take some roots out of the tree, some of them will die. However, you can use a paintbrush to apply diesel to the root to hasten the process. In a few days, it will die naturally. 

Will Diesel Kill Tree Stumps?

Yes, diesel will kill tree stumps even faster than it will take to kill standing trees. That’s why most people decide to cut the tree down to its stump first to eliminate the problem in less time. And although unnatural, it’s a reliable method that takes a maximum of 4 weeks to realize results.

But before applying diesel, you must expose the live area of the stump. A tree will probably either grow back or die if the stump is left exposed after it has been chopped down. You must entirely remove the stump if you don’t want the possibility of regrowth. You can get rid of the stump by covering it in diesel.

You can take the following steps when using diesel to kill tree stumps:

  1. Drill a series of holes 8-10 inches deep over the stump. Maintain 1-inch gaps.
  2. After cleaning the holes, use a funnel to pour enough diesel into them. Repeat this step for two days. 
  3. Apply a thick layer of diesel using a paintbrush once the stump is entirely saturated.
  4. Use some cotton strings to ignite the fire. Within a few hours or days, the stump will burn down.
  5. Ensure the fire doesn’t spread by taking all necessary precautions.
Burning tree stump

However, this is only possible if the tree is alive because you must cut the stump to expose its living tissues before treating it with diesel fuel.

For reliable results, cut the stump far down the ground (below where suckers can grow) and drill deeper to expose the living tissues. Then, paint the top surface of the stump, keeping in mind not to spill some fuel onto the ground. 

How Much Diesel to Kill a Tree?

If you do it right, the amount of diesel to kill a tree mainly depends on the tree size you’re trying to eliminate. It’s clear-cut that you’ll use more fuel in large trees than you will need in small ones. 

As a rough estimate, 4 liters is enough to kill a medium-sized tree. 

The method you use can also determine how much diesel to use. When using the basal bark treatment method, you’ll need more fuel than when you drill and pour gasoline. That’s because, for the former method, you’ve to soak up the tree to ensure maximum absorption for reliable results. 

It also depends on how many times you will apply the diesel. 

Will Diesel Kill a Pine Tree?

Yes, diesel will kill a pine tree. You can use our highlighted methods to kill your pine tree. You can kill the roots first by applying diesel and waiting several months for the whole tree to die. Or by cutting the rest of the tree, remaining with the roots, and then using diesel on the roots.  

You can cut off the rest of the tree and remain with the stump. Apply diesel on the stump and wait for it to decompose. Or you can apply diesel and burn the stump. 


4 Alternate Ways to Kill Tree Roots

Using diesel to kill stumps is not the only way. In fact, there are other cheap alternate ways to get rid of these ugly tree remains that take up space in your yard.

And the best part?

You don’t have to hire a professional because everything you need is cheaply available at home. 

After a tree is taken down, you should remove its root system. If the roots are close to a building, they may cause significant damage as they may continue to grow and spread long after the tree is cut. We offer natural solutions because you might not feel comfortable using kerosene, diesel, or chemicals to kill tree roots.  

Here are the different ways you can kill tree roots naturally: 

Epsom Salt 

Epsom salt, a naturally occurring compound containing magnesium and sulfur, is a plant’s food when used in small quantities. But in high concentrations, it kills stumps by drawing water from them, making the stumps eventually decompose.

Follow the following steps to kill stumps with Epsom salt. 

Step 1

Drill as many holes as possible across the top surface of the stump using a power drill. Each hole should be about 10 inches, ensuring a roughly 1-inch apart spacing. 

Step 2 

Combine pure Epsom salt water to create a saturated solution, and pour it into the holes. 

Step 3

Cover the stump to prevent rainwater from diluting or washing away the Epsom salt solution with a plastic tarp or any nonporous item.

To kill the stump completely, you may want to repeat the process after a few weeks. But a single attempt will suffice, and in about 6 weeks, the stump will die and start decaying. 

Rock Salt

Rock salt is a naturally occurring chemical formed from sodium chloride. Sodium hinders the production of chlorophyll. Additionally, the salt will absorb all the water, leaving none for the roots to be nourished. Rock salt serves as a natural means of eliminating tree roots.

It requires minimal effort by following the steps below. 

Step 1

Make holes into the top of the stump – the same way you would when using the Epsom salt method. 

Step 2

Fill the holes with rock salt before topping them with hot water to dissolve the salt crystals. 

Step 3

Mulch over the top of the stump, add soil, and leave it alone. After about 6 months, start the removal process as the stump decomposes. 

Note: Avoid spilling salt solution to the ground as it can have adverse effects when washed to your wanted plants. 


Girdling is the process of removing the bark’s outermost covering. With its removal, the trees and the roots lack a source of food, eventually leading to their death.

However, the roots of a large tree may not die for several years. Applying vinegar to the cut areas will help prevent the development of suckers or tiny offshoots.

Shielding It from The Sun 

Shielding the stump from the sun is a free, natural process, although it takes time. 

The idea is to prevent the stump from photosynthesis by denying it access to light, which kills it slowly

Follow the following simple steps to shield a stump from the sun.

Step 1

Cover the stump (including any visible roots) with a large-enough black material, preferably a plastic tarp or a trash bag

Step 2

Pile organic waste over the covering material, ensuring a thickness of at least 12 inches. 

Allow the stump to die and rot, which can take about 3 months. 

Burning the stump using kerosene is another option, but it may not be allowed in some regions due to fire restrictions.

How do You Stop Tree Roots From Growing Back?

Methods of stopping roots from growing back vary depending on the tree you are dealing with, as different plants differ in how regularly they grow. That’s why it can take several tries before eliminating the nuisance roots. 

The most common methods used generally include;

1. Use of Growth Inhibitors 

These sprays contain chemicals that inhibit roots from growing. To use them, read the bottle before application. 

2. Spraying with Liquid Copper 

Spraying a room with liquid copper is an effective and environmentally friendly method. 

3. Use of Systemic Herbicides 

Systemic herbicides are the quickest method because these chemicals kill everything they touch.


Don’t use a lot of diesel as it is illegal in many areas. Diesel can easily leach into water supplies. However, it is safer than most pesticides and herbicides that people prefer to use. Diesel is the quickest and most efficient method to kill trees and their stumps.

Share on:

About Rinkesh

A true environmentalist by heart ❤️. Founded Conserve Energy Future with the sole motto of providing helpful information related to our rapidly depleting environment. Unless you strongly believe in Elon Musk‘s idea of making Mars as another habitable planet, do remember that there really is no 'Planet B' in this whole universe.