Digging Out Well Established Shrubs

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chokkie | 09:31 Thu 25th Mar 2021 | Gardening
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Hi green fingered Abers, we're going to be getting rid of (digging up completely) two shrubs from our front garden. They are both pretty well established now, so the root system is pretty sturdy and no doubt hard to dig out. Is there anything we can treat them with, to make the digging out process a little easier? Both shrubs are pretty fast growing, so we want to replace them both with something a little less "active". Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Cheers, Chox.


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I don't know of anything to treat them with but I have found that of they have any king of trunk or central core, then leabe this as long as pissiblem only cutting away branches growing out of it. this will them leave you a long lever that can be rocked backwards and forwards to loosen soil around the roots. Alternatively, it can work to slice it right back to ground level and leave the roots and so on to rot, but if its a very vigorous kind, it can regrow and then you'd need to treat with something like brushwood killer. basically you can have a low effort job or one where replacement can be done quickly but not both if you are doing it DIY
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I think "elbow grease" is the only available substance for removing such shrubs. When we've removed such shrubs we've cut through the roots as far away from the stem/trunk as possible and then left them to rot away naturally. Just a warning; shrubs such as rhus will start to throw up new shoots everywhere if you try to cut them down/remove them; we used tumbleweed (or similar) to kill the plant before we attempted to remove it.
Firstly, cut back the branches enough to get close to the roots and leave enough on to wiggle and leaver the shrub back and forth.

Ideal tools for digging out roots would be, spade, fork and mattock.

When choosing a replacement, consider how big it will get in ten years, rather than it's size when you buy it.
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thanks everyone, your advice and suggestions are very much appreciated, and yes, I agree with you all, it's probably going to be copious amounts of elbow grease. Have to confess, however, that we're not going to be doing this - my husband's back isn't up to the job, so we're getting a friend to help us out. We might not replace them with shrubs as such, might just put in some flowering and hardy plants such as hydrangeas/rose bushes or fuchsias. Besides which, the existing shrubs are now far too tall for us to keep looking neat. But thanks again everyone, really appreciate your help. Best wishes, Cheers, Chox.
seems like we all more or less agree

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Digging Out Well Established Shrubs

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