How to Cut Down an Evergreen Shrub


Cutting down an evergreen shrub is a difficult task that requires a two-pronged approach. Cutting a shrub down is hard work and hauling it away from the site adds to the labor. Plan a process of careful trimming and binding of branches to save time and effort during this major landscaping project.

Step 1

Cut 10-foot lengths of twine and place one length stretched out on the ground. Twine effectively binds branches for removal to the recycling center or disposal at curbside recycling. This 10-foot dimension helps limit the binding of too many branches, creating a manageable-sized bundle.

Step 2

Wear gloves to protect your hands from splinters and abrasions. Include protective eyewear and clothing to limit cuts and scrapes during the shrub removal process.

Step 3

Use pruning lopper for branches up to 2 inches wide and the pruning saw for larger branches. Select the outermost branches for the first cuts. Remove branches in 3-foot long sections and place these trimmings centered on the twine in a stack. This method eliminates a second round of cutting to bind and recycle the foliage. Tie off bundles when the pile reaches about 2 feet around.

Step 4

Remove all branches from the evergreen shrub, but leave the center trunk intact. The trunk may be needed for leverage to rock the plant loose from the soil after digging.

Step 5

Create a 1 foot deep trench around the base of the shrub. Dig the trench at a distance of 2 feet from the main trunk. Remove all soil and place to the side of the site to expose the shrub roots. Cut exposed roots using the pruning loppers or saw. The 10-lb. mauler works like a hatchet to cut through thick roots.

Step 6

Move inward closer to the trunk and continue removing soil from around the shrub base. Expose as many roots as possible to free the plant. Evergreens lack the typical taproot seen on other shrubs that drives deeply into the soil. Cut each of the many exposed roots.

Step 7

Grab the main trunk and start rocking the shrub back and forth. Have a helper slip the shovel directly under the main root mass of the shrub. Lever it up and cut the roots with the loppers. Remove additional soil and push the evergreen shrub onto its side to drag away from the site. Clip any remaining roots and use the shovel to knock of excess soil from the root mass.

Step 8

Poke the shovel around the planting site to find severed roots. Dig the roots free and dispose of with yard waste recycling. Remove all root sections and replace soil into the hole. Level and firm off the surface.

Things You'll Need

  • Twine
  • Utility knife
  • Gloves
  • Protective eyewear
  • Long-sleeve shirt and long pants
  • Pruning loppers
  • Pruning saw
  • 10-lb. mauler


  • University of Minnesota: Removing Trees and Shrubs
  • Horticulture Magazine: Shrub Removal
  • University of Minnesota: Evergreen Trees and Shrubs
Keywords: evegreen shrub removal, removing evergreen shrubs, cutting down shrubs

About this Author

S.F. Heron is an avid gardener with three years of experience in online writing and a working background in aviation and earth and ocean sciences. She is published on various sites, including Helium, eHow and Xomba. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.