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How to Remove a Shrub

By Paul Dohrman
Some shrubs are harder to get rid of than others.
bush image by yurik from Fotolia.com

Bush roots can grow deep. Because a root system is all that a bush needs to grow back over time, getting rid of the roots is the key to remove a shrub. The removal method you choose will depend on a number of factors, including how large the shrub is, how much effort you wish to expend and how quickly you want to remove a shrub. A single-day strategy entails heavy machinery and brute force, while a long-term strategy poisons the shrub over time--root system and all.

The One-Day Effort

Cut the bush down to the stump with a chainsaw or hacksaw.

Dig under the shrub to loosen the larger roots’ grip and provide room to thread a rope if you’re pulling the shrub out with a car. Cut the roots far from the stump so the roots that remain likely die out.

Obtain a backhoe and lift the shrub out of the hole you’ve dug around it, or tie one end of a rope under and around the stump and the other end around a solid portion of your car (not the bumper).

Accelerate the car in short bursts, so you don’t chew up your lawn under the tires or have your foot on the accelerator when the shrub breaks loose.

Chop at the roots intermittently with a hatchet if the shrub won’t break free. Then try again with the backhoe or car.

The Long-Term Effort

Cut the bush down to the stump with a chainsaw or hacksaw.

Drill holes into the top of the stump with a power drill. Pour in a herbicide with trichlopyr and glyphosate as the active ingredient. Time the poisoning around autumn or winter, when the shrub’s nutrients (and therefore the poison) are sucked down into the root system. This will help poison the root system more effectively. Hammering copper nails into the top of the stump can also be effective.

Anchor down an opaque tarp or black plastic over the stump to block sunlight. Despite removal of the green leaves, the stump still uses sunlight to survive.

Remove the shrub after a few weeks of poisoning and sun deprivation. Dig deeply under the stump. Use a hatchet or hacksaw, cutting the roots as far from the stump as you can.


Things You Will Need

  • Hedge trimmers
  • Backhoe or car
  • Axe or saw
  • Bleach or salt
  • Tarp


  • Do not set the stump on fire. This is called "top-killing," which leaves the roots alive to grow back in the spring.
  • You may be able to kill the shrub before removing it by cutting around one branch and applying herbicide, according to a researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago and Northwestern University.

About the Author


Paul Dohrman's academic background is in physics and economics. He has professional experience as an educator, mortgage consultant, and casualty actuary. His interests include development economics, technology-based charities, and angel investing.