The front yard of my New Mexico (USDA zone 7a) house has a salt cedar (Tamarix ramosissima), which is growing like a huge bush. Its salt uptake appears to be preventing anything else in the vicinity from growing. I would like to kill it so that other things can grow in the front yard, and also so I can replace it with a large fruit-bearing shade tree.

I cut it down to a stump this spring, but to my horror, while I was puzzling over what to do after that, it has grown back to its full 6-foot-tall size by now. I am amazed by its growth!

Some people recommend drilling the stump and dumping glyphosate into the holes. Other people recommend burning out the stump and roots. What would work? For stumps in general, and for an incredibly tenacious salt cedar in particular?

  • Possibly useful: gardening.stackexchange.com/questions/5766/…
    – Niall C.
    Jul 27, 2014 at 21:44
  • Thanks, that looks like it should help! The black poly method will probably work well in my climate where it reaches 100 degrees in the summer. Wish I'd done this in the spring...
    – iLikeDirt
    Jul 27, 2014 at 22:45
  • OK, I've heard it was clear, J.Musser says black, what is it?
    – stormy
    Jul 29, 2014 at 3:06
  • 1
    Black makes more sense to me if the idea is to block sunlight and generate high heat.
    – iLikeDirt
    Jul 29, 2014 at 4:17
  • 1
    Black or clear generally both will work. Clear actually gets hotter, though, believe it or not. For solarizing the soil, instructions most often specify using clear. But clear may also allow some growth under it because it allows sunlight to be transmitted. So kind of a mixed bag there.
    – TeresaMcgH
    Jul 29, 2014 at 16:02

3 Answers 3


Firstly, you will probably want to cut the plant off at stump level again. I don't think burning stumps is very effective, or practical. I usually remove the crown, and kill the roots, but there are options.

When I deal with this type of thing, I find that I get great results (but use a lot of energy) using a stump grinder and some full-strength glyphosate. (Note: you shouldn't 'dump' herbicides on stumps. The chemicals are toxic to the environment, and should only be used when called for, and then used as sparingly as possible, only treating where necessary.)

I grind the stump out, dig and remove the chips, drill holes in all the roots larger than 1 1/2 in., and fill with 50% glyphosate. I then (optional) plug the holes with tight-fitting twigs, to minimize soil contamination. Then I put a thick layer of brown corrugated cardboard over the area (just in case) and refill with topsoil.

If you cannot use a stump grinder, and aren't apposed to some physical work, I would dig around the stump, to a level below the crown, and chop it off at the roots (I use an axe). The rest follows as above.

If you don't mind the stump, you can treat with glyphosate and cover with 6-8 mil black contractors plastic. I usually cover that with a mulch, for appearance, but that isn't necessary. If you treat with roundup, the stump will die within a couple months, and don't forget to remove the layer of plastic. You can also leave out the glyphosate, but in that case, the stump may remain alive for more than a season.

Once the stump is dead, you can remove the plastic and cover with organic mulch. This will aid in decomposition (which can take quite a while in salt cedars). Drilling holes in the stump, and applying organic nitrogen also help.

Another option is to spray roundup (not concentrate) on the foliage before cutting, wait until there is complete death, and cut to a stump. The plant, if it regrows, will be very weak. You can put plastic on he stump to stop emergence.

  • 1
    I've always used a mattock to hack through roots; the blunter edge on the blade is less vulnerable to damage when you hit dirt and the rocks hiding within it. Jul 28, 2014 at 3:50
  • @DanNeely Yes, a very good tool to have on hand. They are only blunt, though, if you don't sharpen them. I keep all my digging tools sharp, and get new blades when the old ones wear out. Two tools are better than one, and the mattock will give more leverage, the axe will give more maneuverability. I also Find digging irons useful in stump removal by hand.
    – J. Musser
    Jul 28, 2014 at 3:54
  • FWIW, I wound up spraying triclopyr on the cut stump portions. Worked like a charm.
    – iLikeDirt
    Oct 19, 2014 at 0:43
  • @iLikeDirt Good. Hopefully not right before a heavy rain :P
    – J. Musser
    Oct 19, 2014 at 0:45
  • Nah, it was a few weeks before the next rain if memory serves.
    – iLikeDirt
    Oct 19, 2014 at 0:46

In the end, here's what I did:

  1. I hacked it down to a stump again.
  2. I poisoned the cut stump with Triclopyr.
  3. That killed it stone dead, so I had a guy with a bobcat pull out the stump while he was doing other work on the front yard.

I am a bit confused. I'm pretty sure that the Salt Cedar or Tamarisk chinensis and that no other plant (that I know) 'eats salt' and most plants do poorly with any salt in their environment. This plant is one of the few plants that can thrive in salty soils!! It's only problem is that it can have aggressive roots, proliferates and is pushing out native species, because it is so very hardy and very little competition. Spring through summer flowering period, sounds like a dream of a tree in an environment I imagine is pretty tough? Or do you have an oasis where you live?

  • 2
    It's an invasive species in my area. It outcompetes native plants with its deeper roots and deposition of salt in the topsoil. There are lots of preferable trees that grow just fine in this area, but won't do so by a salt cedar.
    – iLikeDirt
    Jul 29, 2014 at 4:15
  • Are you saying it deposits, makes salt? I'll go read more about this tree...thanks!
    – stormy
    Jul 30, 2014 at 17:49
  • 1
    Does this answer the question at all? 'How do I kill this salt cedar?' seems to imply that iLikeDirt has already made up his/her mind about this particular stump's destiny. =-) Can you edit your answer to deem it more helpful?
    – J. Musser
    Aug 6, 2014 at 19:31
  • Hey, just imagining that that is all he can grow...worse case senario. I know how expensive plants can be...and I was bothered that he thought the salt increase in his soil was caused by this plant. That he didn't see that a Salt Cedar was a rare plant that could survive an abnormal amount of salt...
    – stormy
    Aug 6, 2014 at 19:36
  • It actually deposits salt in the ground. Following the first rain after I killed it, weeds started growing nearby!
    – iLikeDirt
    Oct 19, 2014 at 0:44

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.