What Chemicals Kill Tree Stumps?

The most effective herbicides for killing stumps contain triclopyr or glyphosate as the active ingredient. Triclopyr produces the most reliable results. Products for killing stumps with triclopyr include Ferti-Lome Brush and Stump Killer, and Bayer Advanced Brush Killer. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup, Rodeo and Pondmaster herbicides.

Triclopyr amine is the most common triclopyr formulation. It is a plant-growth regulator that kills plants by disrupting the normal growth cycle. Garden centers typically sell triclopyr amine products. In addition to Bayer and Ferti-Lome products, those containing triclopyr amine include Southern Ag Brush Killer, Ortho Brush-B-Gone, and Bonide Stump and Vine Killer. Roots absorb triclopyr amine, making it the most reliable stump killer available for consumer use.

Agricultural supply stores typically sell a triclopyr formulation known as triclopyr ester. Applicators must apply triclopyr ester carefully due to its volatility, which creates the potential to damage desirable plants growing in the product application area. Garlon contains triclopyr ester, and commercial pesticide applicators typically use this product in agriculture.

Glyphosate products kill plants by disrupting a plant's capacity for making a specific plant protein. Most glyphosate products are designed for weed control. Plant roots do not absorb glyphosate. For killing stumps, applicators must apply the chemical to live trunk tissue for absorption.