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How to Remove Barberry Plants

Barberry plants are a type of small shrub considered to be invasive in many areas. These plants have sharp leaves and thorns with the potential grow size of approximately 2 to 3 feet. Barberry can choke out existing plantings and creates a nightmare for gardeners because the plant seeds prolifically. Learning how to remove barberry plants doesn't only involve digging up the plant but also disposing of the plant properly to limit further incidences from seed transfer. Removing barberry plants requires perseverance to rid your landscape of this often invasive, non-native plant.

Don protective clothing such as a long sleeved shirt, pants and heavy work gloves. Barberry has sharp leaves as well as groups of thorns along every branch. Avoid the inevitable splinters by taking these protective measures.

Schedule your removal session for a time when the plant isn't creating berries. Barberries produce fruit in the fall so removal should occur well before this period of time if possible. This limits the spread of the potent berries that have an incredibly successful germination rate.

Clip back the longest branches using pruning clippers for smaller branches less than 3/4 inch in size. Use loppers to remove larger branches up to 2 inches wide to make digging up the plant more manageable.

Dispose of every branch, plant or berry in yard waste bags.

Graduate up to the pruning saw to remove larger sections of the barberry. Make sure cuts are clean and leave no debris lying around the plant.

Lop off the center stem of the plant to a height of 8 to 10 inches. This allowance will provide a good-sized stump to hold onto when digging around the plant for full removal.

Place the shovel in the soil about 2 feet from the edge of the dripline of the bush. Digging out at the farthest point where foliage reached out from the stem ensures digging up as many roots as possible.

Dig down and remove the dirt from around the barberry plant. Avoid cutting or hacking at roots since these plants can re-sprout quite easily from leftover roots. Set the dirt in a pile beside the plant.

Dig around the root base of the plant until all roots appear free. Grab onto the stump and lift straight up. The plant should pull easily from the ground. If not, continue digging around the base of the roots to loose the soil further.

Check the plant roots to ensure that pieces weren't chopped off during digging. If you suspect there may have been roots chopped during digging, use a trowel to dig around the empty planting site. Remove every bit of root possible to prevent the barberry from re-sprouting.


Barberry removal requires initial effort as well as persistent inspection of the location to deal with any subsequent sprouts. Make sure to done protective clothing and dig up sprouts when they are small for easier removal.

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