Will Epsom Salt Kill Tree Roots?

Chopping trees is not really an option if you want to get rid of tree roots. What is more, cutting the tree down won’t necessarily help you put those roots under control. If you cut a tree down to a sump, there is a chance new roots will grow from the stump and find their way into your sewer line again, since there are nutrients and water they need to survive. You may even find clusters of tree roots trying to find some nutrients nearby.

So, what is the most efficient and reliable way to kill tree roots or make sure those tree roots don’t re-grow (just in case you already cut the tree down)? Epsom salt could be one of the best solutions, way better than most of the tree stump rotters.

What Is Epsom Salt?

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Epsom salt is a mineral compound also known as magnesium sulfate and not actually salt, although its name suggests otherwise. Epsom salt has been used as a natural remedy for decades now [1] since it can help with inflammation and muscle tension, and it is highly recommended to take Epsom salt baths so the skin absorbs it.

However, Epsom salt has multiple other uses as well, and you can use it in your household or your garden. For instance, you can use Epsom salt to clean bathroom tiles or your washing machine.

Or, you can use it to increase the concentration of magnesium and sulfate in your garden and keep your plants healthy and happy, grow and maintain greener grass, prevent slugs, eliminate insects, keep weeds under control, and even repel raccoons!

However, note that Epsom salt, when used in smaller quantities, has beneficial effects, while using it in large quantities can result in killing plants, weeds, and, of course, roots. It actually removes moisture from the soil, which further makes nearby plants go dry.

Will Epsom Salt Kill Tree Roots?

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In the previous paragraph, we mentioned that you can use Epsom salt to fertilize your plants [2]. If you have ever over-fertilized a plant using, let’s say, chicken manure, you probably, accidentally, made it die. Or, if you are a heavy feeder, it must be that you have experienced this multiple times.

The thing is – if you apply an excessive amount of Epsom salt around or to the tree roots, the soil around the roots will soon become too salty. Once this happens, the water will be drawn out of the roots, which will make them brittle in a short time, which is a clear sign that they are dead.

How To Use Epsom Salt to Kill Tree Roots?

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Here, we will list all the ingredients you are going to need to kill tree roots and protect your pipeline:

  • 15 cups of Epsom salt,
  • Bucket,
  • 2 ½ gallons of warm water,
  • Drill,
  • Garden trowel.

First thing first – fill the bucket with 2 ½ gallons of warm water, then pour 15 cups of Epsom salt into the bucket and stir it all until all salt is dissolved. Then, use a garden trowel to dig several holes around the tree so it is easier for you to see where the roots are. Use a drill to drill holes in all the roots that you think may be causing you headaches and fill them with the content from the bucket.

Alternatively, you can first drill holes in the roots, fill them with Epsom salt granules, then start sipping warm water into each hole to moisten the salt. Just be careful not to pour too much water inside, otherwise, you will wash away the salt. You can also cover the stump with a sheet of plastic to make sure that, if Epsom salt is washed away by rain, the stump doesn’t absorb too much of it, which will protect it from dying.

There is a chance you will have to repeat this process after a week or so to make sure the roots are really dead. Once they are, cut them off, just in case. This is how you make a really powerful homemade root killer for sewer pipes.

However, having options is great, right? That is why we wrote a whole guide about several other hacks and homemade root killer solutions. 

On the other side, you can try commercial sewer root killers.

How Long Does It Take for Epsom Salt to Kill Tree Roots?

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If you follow the steps we have outlined in the previous section, it will take about 2 to 3 months for Epsom salt to kill tree roots entirely.

How Does Epsom Salt Get Rid of Tree Stumps?

We got questions like ”will Epsom salt kill tree stumps” all the time. In a nutshell – yes, Epsom salt can kill tree stumps. In fact, if you want to kill tree roots without using poisonous chemicals, Epsom salt could be the best option.

To be able to do so, mix some Epsom salt with warm water, drill several holes in the stumps, and fill the holes with a generous amount of this liquid. As already explained, over-applying Epsom salt will draw moisture out of the stump that will soon start drying out, and probably, rot away.

You can also cover the stump with a tarp to prevent rain from watering down the salt or rinsing it away. The process of killing tree stumps may take somewhere between 8 and 10 weeks and you may want to repeat the application two to three times, all until you start noticing the stump has started appearing dry.

Oh, and, don’t worry, if you apply Epsom salt to the stump, it won’t necessarily kill nearby plants. More likely, these plans will start absorbing the excess amount of the product, since they love magnesium, and they will become much greener.

Will Sea Salt Kill Tree Roots?

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If you are thinking of Epsom salt alternatives, you may come across sea salt as a solution. Indeed, you can use sea salt to kill tree roots since it is rich in sodium, which will deprive them of vital ingredients – magnesium and potassium needed for making chlorophyll. All you should do is mix some sea salt with water and water the tree or pour large amounts of sea salt around the tree. However, note that, if you are not being careful, you will end up killing the whole tree.

What Is the Difference Between Rock Salt and Epsom Salt?

You probably know you can use both rock salt and Epsom salt to kill tree roots and/or stumps. However, do you know the difference between the two? Obviously, the word “salt” is a bit misleading. While Epsom salt is a natural combination of sulfate and magnesium, rock salt consists of chloride and sodium. The great thing is that you can use either to kill tree roots with very low effort.

Summary

Now you know – there is absolutely no need to cut down trees to get rid of tree roots. You don’t need poisonous chemicals or expensive machines either. Epsom salt will do the trick. So, will Epsom salt kill tree roots? No doubt, it will, if you follow the steps we explained. You can apply the same steps if you want to kill a tree stump as well, or you can protect it and kill the roots only.

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