Have here a tree that is being needed to be removed, and we want to defoliate it first before proceding to its removal.

Any ideas on how it could be defoliated?

  • 3
    Hi Renan41, Welcome to Lifehacks. There are many different kinds of trees and many different kinds of locations and terrain. You haven't provided enough information about your question. You also do realize that your desire may not be legal, safe, or practical. Pending a decision whether to close the question, please provide a photo and more complete description of the circumstances.
    – Stan
    Oct 20, 2019 at 3:58
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    A chemical defoliant? I can think of one but it is infamous because it was toxic to humans too. The best time to fell a tree is when it is dormant. If the tree is deciduous, wait until its leaves have fallen naturally. Oct 20, 2019 at 18:23
  • Why do you want to remove the leaves before felling?
    – Caius Jard
    Oct 23, 2019 at 7:55

2 Answers 2


Depends on what you mean by 'defoliate' if you just want the leave off and it is not an evergreen, wait until fall. The leaves will come off naturally.

If the tree is green year round, take off a circle of bark about 30cm or 1 foot high, this will kill the tree and the leaves will fall off.

If time is important don't worry about taking the leaves off the tree, if you are chipping the branches into compost, the leaves can be chipped at the same time. All else the leaves will dry out and burn or compost whole, just pile them or haul them as is.

  • And it there would be any way that could be prevented from born again after fall? How much time takes to wither the leaves?
    – Renan41
    Oct 22, 2019 at 12:03
  • @Renan41 it depends on the type of tree. Most trees will not recover. Some trees like Willow, will sprout new growth from all the roots. Oct 22, 2019 at 12:23
  • Just made a small girdling in it. Becames purple surrounding it, showing only yellow of what might be the sapwood. How here is beginning of summer, maybe it takes short to leaves become brown.
    – Renan41
    Oct 26, 2019 at 14:35

The fastest, most expedient, and environmentally friendly way to defoliate a tree of any size is to remove the leaf-bearing limbs and branches physically with a saw.

Trimming is a good idea to avoid damage that could occur due to pieces flying from the trunk as it hits the ground when felled ultimately. A denuded trunk can be felled with fewer complications and less damage to surrounding property.

There is a myriad of specialty tools purpose-made for your chore. Fully equipped professional tree surgeons pride themselves on how effectively they can perform a precise extraction.

  • Good advice, although the tone is maybe a touch snappy for a new user who may be not familiar with your specific kind of humour?
    – Stephie
    Oct 20, 2019 at 15:50

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