Why Do Copper Nails Kill Trees: Everything You Need to Know!

Sometimes, you may want a quick fix to kill unwanted trees in your backyard, or sometimes, you may want to protect them. This is why you may want to know why copper nails kill trees. The simple answer is that excessive copper from copper nails may lead to copper toxicity that kills the tree. 

Due to copper toxicity, both the leaves and roots of the trees are affected. The leaves lose their photosynthesis ability and the cuticle and root hair proliferation of roots get damaged too. Thus, leading to the death of trees. 

Today, this blog post will talk about the probable reasons why copper nails facilitate the death of trees. So, read on to find out everything related to copper nails killing trees. 

Why Do Copper Nails Kill Trees? 

You may have heard that inserting a few copper nails into the trees can kill the trees. Now, certain reasons contribute to this phenomenon. These include: 

  1. Oxidation of Copper 

One of the major reasons why copper contributes to killing trees is because the copper element gets oxidized. As it gets oxidized due to moisture, the copper combines with oxygen to form copper-oxygen compounds such as CuO, Cu₂O, CuO₂, Cu₂O₃. 

The oxidized compounds of Copper then become harmful toxins that reside in the tree body, causing both damage and death. 

  1. Stunts The Functions of Growth Cells

Growth cells are an important part of the tree’s bark. These cells are responsible for the overall growth of the tree. 

However, if you insert copper nails, especially near the region of growth cells, it can hamper their growth. Additionally, it can also damage the existing growth cells. Thus, leading to the death of the tree eventually. 

  1. Damage to Leaves

By damaging the leaves severely, copper causes the death of a tree. This happens because when the trees are exposed to excessive copper, it causes copper toxicity. 

This kind of copper toxicity can cause the tree to grow discolored leaves. Moreover, as time goes by, the leaves would turn dark green. Lastly, they will become completely white as the chlorophyll in the leaves won’t work properly. Thus, leading to problems in photosynthesis too. 

Now, as the leaves won’t be able to produce nutrients for themselves, without photosynthesis, they’ll eventually wilt and die out. Moreover, due to nutrient deficiency in the entire tree, after some time, the tree would die out too.  

  1. Damage to Roots 

Lastly, copper nails can cause irreversible damage to roots. It is because copper basically damages the root cuticle. This cuticle is responsible to protect the tree against pathogen and pest attacks. If this is destroyed, then the trees are left vulnerable to harmful external factors. 

Moreover, excess copper can also reduce the growth and multiplication of root hairs. As root hairs are necessary for the absorption of water and nutrients, their reduced numbers won’t be able to fulfill the tree’s requirements. 

Hence, owing to the above reasons, accumulated copper from the copper nails can kill the trees. 

Is It Possible to Kill a Tree Using Copper Nails?

Even though a lot of sources may suggest that it is impossible to kill a tree with copper nails, you need to know that the number of copper nails matters. For instance, if you think that simply one copper nail can kill an entire tree, then you might be mistaken. 

The truth is that if you want the tree to die of copper toxicity, then you need to consider inserting plenty of copper nails, all at once. This way the concentration of copper would increase inside the tree. 

Moreover, another factor that comes into play, is the length of the copper nails. Keep in mind that you need to go for copper nails that can pierce into the cambium of the tree’s bark. If it doesn’t pierce, then chances are that the tree won’t die. 

How to Kill a Tree Using Copper Nails? 

So, if you are trying to kill a wild tree using copper nails, then there are certain steps that you can follow. They are given below:

Step 1: Start With Inserting Copper Nails At The Base of the Tree

The first step is to insert a copper nail at a slight angle near the base of the tree. 

Here, you can make use of a hammer to ensure that the copper nails penetrate the bark properly. This is important to note as if the copper nails don’t penetrate, they won’t have much effect on the tree. 

Step 2: Make a Ring of Copper Nails Around the Tree Bark 

After inserting one copper nail on the bark, you need to start inserting the other nails to form a ring. 

Keep in mind that you position the copper nails at least ½ inch or 1 inch away from the adjacent nails. When you do this, the copper affects the growth cells of the tree. Thus, affecting the overall tree’s growth. 

Step 3: Cover the Copper Nails 

If you don’t want to ruin the look of your backyard, you can always cover the copper nails with some mud. 

The mud can conceal the nails without ruining the look and feel of your backyard. 

Step 4: Remove the Copper Nails Once The Tree Is Dead 

Lastly, if you find that the tree is dead, make sure that you remove all the nails before disposing of it. 

This step is important for the safety of the people involved in the process of waste management. 

How Much Time Does It Take to Kill a Tree Using a Copper Nail?

The death of the tree due to copper nails depends on various factors. For instance, how many copper nails you used, the size of the tree, the position of copper nails, etc.. 

However, to give you an estimate, copper nails may kill a huge tree in many months whereas, for a small tree, it may only take a few weeks. 

Final Thoughts 

In conclusion, copper nails have the capacity of killing trees by inhibiting the functions of growth cells, leaves, and stems. 

Moreover, you can also take down a small tree in a few weeks or a huge one in some months, by following the steps given above!

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