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copper sulfate (CuS04) is one of the most popular ways to secretly kill a tree. Possible legal consequences are ignored. You can find out whether it is forbidden and how it works here.

In a nutshell

  • The use of copper sulphate is permitted per se
  • but not an environmentally friendly option
  • pour directly into or around trees
  • must be refilled
  • Observe tree protection

Copper sulphates allowed?

If unwanted trees are to be removed without the hassle of felling, many homeowners are interested in using agents such as copper sulphates. Also known as copper smoke, the effect is said to be helpful when the plant dies inconspicuously. The sulphate is most commonly used in the private sector to combat algae and bacteria in pools, as it effectively kills them. Copper sulphates are commercially available in the following forms:

  • granules
  • powder
  • already mixed liquid
Granular copper sulphate

It is not forbidden to buy and use copper sulphate. There are no real restrictions, making the idea appealing to many garden owners looking to remove unwanted trees. There are only certain regulations for the disposal of the sulphate, since it is a toxic heavy metal. When a tree is removed, the mixture seeps directly into the ground, which can no longer be verified. Whether this will be officially allowed is questionable. In addition, its use is not recommended. Even if you put the copper sulphate directly into the tree, over time the toxins will end up in the soil.

Notice: It doesn't matter if you pour the sulphate on the trees or put it in crystalline form in tree holes you have drilled yourself. The application is also not prohibited for this procedure.

Observe tree protection

As explained in the previous section, you may not kill protected trees without permission. If you use the copper sulphate secretly and the tree dies as you wish, you will have to pay heavy fines. These can range from 50 to 100,000 euros, depending on the state in which you live. The trees are protected by the tree protection statute of your place of residence. It determines which trees are protected and you need a permit to kill them. In most cases, these are trees with the following minimum trunk circumference:

  • Deciduous trees: either 60 or 80 cm
  • Fruit trees: from 150 cm
  • Conifers: from 100 cm
Attention: Although walnut trees (Juglans regia) and sweet chestnuts (Castanea sativa) are often cultivated as fruit trees, they are still deciduous trees.

Notice: If it is not a mature tree but just a stump, you do not need a permit. You have to be careful that newly sprouting tree stumps may only be removed outside of the closed season.

Apply copper sulfate to tree

If you want to use copper sulphate yourself, the effort is not really that big. You can sprinkle the powder or granules, ready-made mixtures are usually significantly more expensive, directly onto the soil around the tree and moisten it. However, this method is not as effective on the trees. You can put the sulphate directly into the trees, which is far more effective. For this you need:

  • Drill and wood drill bit (10 mm diameter)
  • knife
  • funnel (note hole size)
If the copper sulphate is poured directly into the tree through the boreholes, it works more effectively because the rain cannot wash it away immediately.

Use highly concentrated sulphate to optimize the effect. Once you have all the utensils and sulfate ready, all you have to do is wait for the right time. The ideal time for this is the start of the growth period, which begins between May and mid-June, depending on the species. At this time, the toxic substances in the copper sulphate have a stronger effect on the plants and literally kill them. It is applied as follows:

  • Remove the bark 5 to 10 cm above the ground
  • use knives for this
  • drill holes
  • diagonally from above into the trunk (45° angle)
  • Distance from 20 to 30 cm
  • Depth dependent on trunk thickness
  • about 25%
  • Insert funnel
  • completely filled with sulfate
  • close with bark
  • alternatively use corks
  • natural wax also possible
  • refill at regular intervals

frequently asked Questions

Can copper or blue water nails be used without hesitation?

The same guidelines apply to copper and blue water nails as to the copper smoke. You need a permit if it is a protected tree. A single nail is not enough to kill a tree. The growths simply enclose the small wound and continue to grow undisturbed.

How does copper sulfate affect the environment?

Copper sulfate is a toxic salt derived from sulfuric acid. It has devastating effects on aquatic organisms and can poison water sources. For this reason, it must not get into the groundwater or be disposed of in the drain.

Instead of copper sulphate, are there any eco-friendly alternatives to getting rid of a tree?

So that you do not have to resort to environmentally harmful substances, ringing is the only gentle variant to be mentioned. When ringing, you remove a strip of bark four inches wide from the lower part of the tree. The tree can no longer support the crown and the rest of the trunk. It dies after one to three years

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