Trees can beautify your yard, help shield your home from summer heat, and provide shade for outdoor pursuits. But as some trees mature they can outgrow their location and their roots can begin to crowd your home’s foundation and underground pipes, endangering the functionality of each.


Large trees with invasive root systems that extend close to your foundation can soak up tens, maybe even hundreds, of gallons of water every day and create significant swings in the moisture within your soil—undermining the integrity of your foundation.

As invasive roots spread they can also damage or block sewer lines and service pipes, resulting in pricey fixes for clean-up and repair.

If a tree’s invasive roots threaten the stability of your home’s foundation or interfere with your sewer connection the tree may need to be removed. Since the roots may continue to grow after your tree’s been removed, you can kill the roots using these techniques.

Using Rock Salt

To kill tree roots using rock salt, first drill multiple holes of about 4 inches in diameter into the stump of the tree trunk, and into the exposed roots. Pour rock salt into the holes and fill them to the top with water. Be sure not to overfill the holes, since rock salt can be toxic to plants and pets.

You may have to repeat this process multiple times over the course of a couple of months in order for the salt to kill the roots, in which case there shouldn’t be any new growth from the stump.

To keep the rock salt from harming other plants, consider sealing the drilled holes with candlewax to stop the salt from being carried with the wind. You can cover the tree stump with a tarpaulin, or plastic sheet. Check the stump every couple of weeks. You’ll know it’s dead when it easily breaks apart.

Using Boiling Water

You can kill tree roots using boiling water. First, expose as much of the visible roots as possible, as well as the stump—if it’s still intact. Next, drill multiple holes into the roots and stump and pour boiling water into them. The heat will shock, damage, and kill the roots and stump. You may need to repeat the process until the roots are dead, as indicated by no new growth at the stump.

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