How to Kill a Mulberry Tree [All You Need to Know]

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How to Kill a Mulberry Tree

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We like mulberry trees – but not in our yard.

Or anywhere near our house, cars, and sidewalks. Although the first mulberries on trees are an endearing symbol for the end of wintery nights, it also ushers in bad news.

Yes, we are talking about the polka dot paint job caused by the splattering of purple mulberries all over the place. Even if the mulberries don’t directly drop over our things, the birds will make sure they do.

Come mulberry season, birds flock to devour the sweet and delicious fruits – only to rain down the purple droppings on patio furniture. What’s worse – the fermenting mulberry slime is just in time to gross-out Labor Day guests!

And it doesn’t just end here; the roots of the mulberry tree are known to be very invasive. Apart from having rigid surface roots that trip innocent pedestrians, they can also grow under your property and cause destruction. 

How To Eliminate Killing Mulberry Trees

Black mulberry tree, morus nigra, covered with ripening fruits. Sao paulo state, brazil

Why Kill A Mulberry Tree

Before we begin, here are a few things about the mulberry tree and some things to expect – do prepare accordingly.

The best time to cut down a big mulberry tree would be between May and September. However, once you do spot a short mulberry tree anywhere near your property, don’t waste much time before starting preparations to remove it. We say this because mulberry trees flourish even under harsh conditions. 

Not only do mulberry trees grow vertically with great speed, but their roots are also bothersome and can spread uncontrollably. Unchecked mulberry trees are known for growing under cement – at times lifting sidewalks and blocking drains! 

Other types of trees from the mulberry family can also cause jeopardy to your surroundings in different ways. One of these is the fast-growing Osang-orange tree that is infamous for its thorns and fast-growing shoots. Apart from these disruptions, mulberry trees are just not great trees in terms of aesthetics. 

Whether you want to grow a better-behaved tree in its place, or you just don’t want to live with the mess – killing a mulberry tree is cheap and easy. 

To avoid regrowth, killing the tree’s roots is the only way – bringing the tree down won’t be enough. Therefore, to kill a mulberry tree is to kill the roots. To ensure this, you have to keep a close watch and take help from herbicides. Follow our step-by-step DIY guide to do this safely and efficiently.  

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How To Kill A Mulberry Tree

Here are the tools that you will be needing for the job:

  1. Protective Gear

Safety first. Wear a pair of safety goggles, gloves, and a respirator mask throughout the entire duration of this process to prevent safety hazards. 

Gearing up will give you protection from the flying dust and debris as the tree is taken down. More importantly, it will protect you from the chemical herbicides that will be used on the stump. Gloves are a great way to defend not only against splinters but also purple-stained fingers!

  1. Chopping Equipment

For cutting smaller roots, you can use a regular shovel. For bigger and stronger roots, a chainsaw will do the job; however, we urge you to take the help of an experienced professional when operating a chainsaw. Alternatively, you can use a handsaw, hatchet, or an ax to deal with larger segments.

  1. Herbicides

The kind of herbicide you want to use is water-based with an 8-10 percent concentration of triclopyr.

  1. Spray Bottle Or Watering Can

Pick one that is big enough for your herbicide-water mix.

  1. Paintbrush

You will be using this to brush off unwanted debris and brush on the herbicide. 

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Step-By-Step Guide

Step 1

Wear your gloves, safety goggles, and a respirator mask. We have already said this before, but we would like to emphasize again that safety is of prime importance here – especially since you are performing the removal by yourself. With that being said, we will be putting an additional list of safety tips at the end of this guide. 

Step 2

And so – the labor commences! The very first things you must work on are the smaller roots and saplings. Since these are easy to remove, you may just use a shovel to dig them out. 

As for the bigger roots, they are usually much more stubborn and strong. But don’t worry if they don’t come off completely – just go as far as you can and aim to make a deep gash.   

Step 3

Now for the mighty trunk. Use your choice of chopping tool and cut down as close to ground level as you can. As you already know, May to September is the active growth period, and a good time for chopping down mulberry trees.

Step 4

Pick up your paint brush and brush away any debris or sawdust. We do this to avoid interference in the absorption of the herbicide mix.

Step 5

It’s time to mix the herbicide with water. Don’t forget to read the instructions on the label carefully before mixing. Once done, put the water-based herbicide in your spray bottle and spritz it all over the cut stump and roots. While doing this, be as generous as you can because absorbing the herbicide is what kills the tree.  

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Alternative method

At this point, you can also drill holes around the edges of the stump. Soak your paintbrush in the herbicide mix and brush all over the roots and holes to get into every nook and cranny. 

Step 6

Peel off the bark around the stump to prevent water and trees from reaching the upper part of the tree. To end things – cut off oxygen supply by covering the stump with soil and leaves. Eventually, the roots will lose their energy, and slowly die off. 

Step 7

This step is only for precaution – we hope you won’t need it though! 

With all said and done, it’s advised that you monitor and inspect the treated stump regularly for new growth. If you happen to see new sprouts, simply cut them off and treat the area with a little spritz of your herbicide mix.

Additional Safety Tips

Hiring A Professional

Although you have all the steps to do this by yourself – the work still requires strength and experience. If you are not sure about the task at hand, do hire a professional. After all, working with chainsaws and axes can be daunting – and a tree falling on you can be fatal!

Chemical Safety

When working with herbicides, make sure there are no children and pets around. Once done, keep it out of their reach. This is not to say herbicides are not harmful to adults. Our advice is to avoid spillage on yourself but in the case of accidents, quickly remove clothing and rinse off under warm water.  

The risk of chemical hazards makes protective gear all the more important. In fact, you should wear shoes made of chemical-resistant material for added safety. In case you don’t have those, just put a plastic bag over regular shoes.

Closeup of mulberries growing on tree

Final Words

Mulberry trees bear sweet fruits, but there is a dark side to them.

They are unfussy trees that are low-maintenance and bear plenty of fruit that can go into jams, jellies, and juices. At the same time, not everyone is fond of purple bird poop and purple stains all over their driveways and their shoes!

Of course, there are some ways to go around these issues – for instance, you may consider putting a tarp under the tree to avoid splashing, this will also help you with weeds and weed control. And yet, there may still come a time when houses, drains, and roads are in jeopardy because of a mulberry tree’s unhinged root system. 

When faced with such a mulberry tree – killing it is not murder, it’s self-defense!

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