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Is Tree Stump Killer Herbicide Safe Around Ponds?


The active ingredient in herbicides used specifically for killing trees and tree stumps is triclopyr butoxyethanol ester (triclopyr BEE), which is NOT safe to use around ponds, lakes, rivers, streams, any other waterways or bodies of water.

The product leaflet for Triclopyr 600 Herbicide issues the following warning:


The US EPA has made the following statements about triclopyr BEE:

Why Triclopyr Herbicide is Unsafe to Use Near Water

Triclopyr BEE is a synthetic auxin herbicide of the pyridyloxy‐carboxylate class, which mimics the plant growth hormone auxin. It causes uncontrolled growth and eventually the death of many sensitive broad-leaved plants.

These herbicides are effective even when present in the most minute quantities, and have been implicated in persistent herbicide contamination of commercial soil, compost manure and hay, leading to extensive damage of non-target plants and significant crop losses.

The chemical structure of Triclopyr butoxyethanol ester (BEE)

The herbicide Triclopyr BEE is sold in formulations such as Triclopyr 600, Garlon 600, Blackberry & Tree Killer, and Tri-Pic Herbicide.

Triclopyr BEE herbicides should NOT be used around waterways and bodies for the following reasons:

Because triclopyr is considered mobile and moderately persistent there is a potential for it to contaminate drinking water.

When looking up information on the toxicity of the herbicide triclopyr, it is important to understand that it’s available in three different chemical forms, which are used for different purposes, and have different chemical properties, including toxicity levels.

The three forms of triclopyr are as follows:

  1. triclopyr BEE (butoxyethanol ester)
  2. triclopyr TEA (triethylamine salt)
  3. triclopyr acid

Only the butoxyethanol ester form of triclopy (triclopyr BEE) is used as a tree, blackberry and tree stump killer herbicide, and should never be used around water for the reasons outlined.

For a safer way to kill tree stumps, see the article – How to Kill a Tree Stump Without Poisonous Chemicals


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