I've lived in my house for over 10 years now and for all of the years I've had a tree that has been nothing but a pain in my ass. It's never directly watered, but still seems to get plenty to constantly grow. I believe it is some sort of pepper tree, but it should be added to the invasive species if it isn't already.

Sometime well before I bought this house this tree was planted by someone, or not, but ended up growing right on the fence line between my house and the neighbor behind me. The majority of the tree grows on the neighbors side, but the tree basically has a two part trunk like a "V" with one part of the "V" on each side of the fence. The trunk that grew on my side of the fence has been cut down not long after I bought the place, but the neighber does nothing in the form of yard maintenance and the tree is growing rampant on their side of the fence and continues to sprout shoots on my side that quickly get out of control if I don't keep up with it. I've asked them to cut the tree several times and they never have once in ten years.

It's a constant battle to keep this pest of a tree at bay on my side of the fence. I was thinking about drilling into the cut-off trunk on my side of the fence and shoving a funnel into the hole and filling with ground clear with hopes it would kill the tree, but at least stunt its growth a bit. I do have other fruit trees in the vicinity and am worried the chemicals may leach over even if it is put directly into the trunk and I really do not want anything to happen to the fruit trees.

Anyone know if tapping into the trunk like I mentioned would work or not? Or have a better suggestion to kill the tree?

  • What country do you live in? I have a solution for the US (doesn't involve drilling into the trunk) but the chemical used may not be legal in your country.
    – Jurp
    Commented Dec 26, 2023 at 14:17
  • 1
    "I've asked them to cut the tree several times and they never have once in ten years." Maybe check out the Interpersonal Skills stack exchange for a different approach. I wouldn't be responsive to a neighbor with this aggressive of an attitude either.
    – MackM
    Commented Dec 27, 2023 at 17:19
  • Hi Jurp, I'm in the US. Specifically, I'm in San Diego, CA which adds another layer as a lot of things are banned in California that are notnin the rest of the country. Thanks for any help and/or suggestions.
    – Van
    Commented Dec 29, 2023 at 1:06
  • Hi @MackM, i appreciate your insite, but 10 years of no progress created any perceived agression. This neighbor barely does any yard maintenance to begin with. Any sort of asking or suggesting, in any manner, is dismissed and never done. Ultimately, I've taken pictures ever time Ive cut back the tree on my side for documentation. Eventually the tree will wreck the fence. When that happens im taking the neighbor to court to cover the cost for failure to maintain the tree which will destroy the fence.
    – Van
    Commented Dec 29, 2023 at 1:13
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    Trickypyr, if it's legal in CA (usually sold as Stump and Brush Killer). Use it undiluted. Pour it into a shallow pan, like a pie plate, then use a paint brush to paint it one the bottom 12-18 inches of the trunk, around the entire circumference, if possible. This should kill the entire tree, roots and all. Winter is actually a great time to do this.
    – Jurp
    Commented Jan 2 at 17:21

2 Answers 2


Leaving aside the question of whether the tree is yours or your neighbors or shared a slow way to kill a tree is done by girdling it. Mice and rabbits can kill apples and roses by eating the bark all the way around the trunk at the base.

All you need is to remove a strip of bark about half an inch or a centimeter wide all around the trunk. It could take a few years but the top of the tree will die.

However this will not necessarily solve your problem whether you do this or try an herbicide or other toxic substances. Most trees have a vigorous root system and some can come back by sending up suckers around the main stem. I have seen ash trees dead from the ground up due to emerald ash borer regrow suckers that were 12 feet tall after 4 years.

The best way to deal with this is to convince your neighbor to allow the tree to be removed and get an arborist to cut it down and stump it.

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    Girding it is definitely a good idea if its practical to do so - however part of it is on the neighbours side and this may cause fairly obvious legal issues if done on their part.
    – davidgo
    Commented Jan 1 at 3:48

You would want to get your neighbours OK before attempting this - I do not know about property law in California, but where I live (New Zealand) this would not be legal without their consent.

One way to get rid of plants like this is to drill a multiple holes (say 8-10mm each) near the bottom of the tree at a 45 degree downwards angle in an area it is growing and fill it with 1:5 diluted Glyphosate (roundup) during the growing season. From what I can see this is still legal in Sandiego - although there is - as in many places in the world - voices calling for it to be banned. In theory, over a period of months the Glyphosate should penetrate to the roots and kill the tree. It is supposedly deactivated by contact with soil - so provided you don't get any of it onto other plants it should not affect them. (There are claims that Glyphosate will modify the soil microbiome near the tree, which makes sense - there is no free lunch)

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