How to Dig Out Bradford Pear Roots


According to the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service, Bradford pear trees are among the most popular ornamental trees in the Southeast. But because of their vigorous growth, weak wood and poor branch structure, the trees begin to deteriorate after 20 years. When a Bradford pear tree begins to fall apart, a homeowner may have no choice but to cut it down and remove it. Once the tree is removed, some homeowners choose to let the stump and roots naturally rot. But you can remove the largest roots to make room for new trees by digging them up in a process called grubbing.

Step 1

Remove soil from around the base of a stump with a folding shovel, mattock, weeding hoe and pick. Use progressively smaller tools to reach into tight places. Remove the soil to form a trench that is 2 feet deep by 2 feet wide around the stump.

Step 2

Cut through the roots around the base of the Bradford pear tree stump to free the stump from the root system using your pruning saw, pruning shears, hammer and chisel and a mattock. Select the proper-sized tool for the size of roots. Pry the stump loose using a flay pry bar.

Step 3

Dig outward from the trench, following the roots that connected with the Bradford pear tree stump. Remove all of the dirt from around the roots and pry them upward from the soil using a pry bar. Comb through loose soil with a garden rake to remove tiny, hair-like roots that you may have otherwise missed.

Things You'll Need

  • Folding shovel
  • Pruning saw
  • Pruning shears
  • Hammer
  • Chisel
  • Flat pry bar
  • Mattock
  • Pick
  • Weeding hoe
  • Garden rake


  • Louisiana State University Extension: Stump Removal from Home Grounds
  • University of Minnesota Extension: Removing Trees and Shrubs
  • Alabama Cooperative Extension Service: Choose Alternatives to Bradford Pear Trees, Experts Advise

Who Can Help

  • Mississippi State University Extension: Ornamental & Tree Diseases
Keywords: removing tree roots, grubbing up roots, Bradford Pear removal

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."