How To Remove Shrubs and Their Roots

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Sometimes you may need to get rid of annoying shrubs and shrub roots that are shelters of harmful creatures or simply take too much space in your garden for other things.

However, once shrubs in your yard have developed deep roots, eliminating them will be challenging and require specific methods to succeed.

But you are lucky to be here because we will show you several ways on how to remove shrubs and their roots. Let’s check it out!

How to Remove Shrubs and Their Roots

Digging Method

Step 1: Determine a suitable time in the year to dig up tough shrubs

If you do not want to disturb the wildlife, you had better remove big shrubs at a time in the year when birds do not nest. Besides, it is usually more effortless to dig your shrubs up when the ground is a bit dry.

Digging shrubs and their roots
Digging is a simple way that always works for removing shrubs and their roots

These factors may vary among different regions, but in most cases, the proper time for you to do this is typically in the autumn or the winter.

At this time of the year, birds are not nesting, and the soil is quite dry.

Step 2: Prepare essential digging tools and materials

After you have determined the appropriate time, gather your tools and materials necessary for removing the roots of shrub or bush.

Sharpen the blades of your small saw and pruning shears will make the job both a lot safer and easier.

Plus, you will need a round-bladed spade with a spiked top to dig through the soil and a mattock for cutting the roots at ease.

Working clothes, including a reliable pair of gardening gloves and a professional pair of working boots, will be in need, too.

Step 3: Cut shrubs back to expose their stumps

Utilize your pair of pruning shears to cut shrubs right back until there are only a bit of their tree stumps left.

In this way, you can expose the base of the shrub and hence pull it from the earth to remove shrubs and shrub roots completely. It is common sense that any remaining roots of the shrubs in the ground can facilitate them to come back.

Step 4: Create a trench encompassing the stumps to reveal their root balls

A round-bladed spade is a perfect tool for you to dig a trench around the stumps.

Nonetheless, inspect the spots carefully to make sure that your digging will not pose any threat to the electricity or water supplies of your neighborhood.

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Step 5: Pull the root balls out

Use your mattock and spade to cut through the shrub roots as much as you can so that later you can pull the root mass up from the ground with the least effort.

In fact, you merely need to get rid of the main roots and root head to block shrubs from regenerating. However, the more you remove the rest of the root system, the more space you have for the next growing trees.

Let’s shake the roots until most soil on them is dropped out. Therefore, you can handle the shrubs more effortlessly and save soil for your garden.

Step 6: Tackle the shrubs you have just pulled up

Now, you manage to dispose of the trees any way you want. For instance, if the shrubs are rather small, you can compost them instead of burning them.

However, if there is any plant that gets diseased, never compost it. You should put it in the trash or burn it completely to prevent diseases from spreading to other trees in your garden.

Step 7: Get rid of any remaining root and apply some manure or compost

After handling the root balls, you should still continue to use a spade or mattock to break up the remaining roots in the soil as much as possible. Then, they should rot away by themselves in the ground.

To promote the rotting process of the shrub roots as well as add more nutrition for future plants, you can add some compost or manure into the soil.

Other Methods

Pull the shrubs by a chain

Another approach to pull trees and shrubs out of the ground with less digging work is wrapping a long chain around their root stumps and pull them with a towing vehicle or a car jack.

This could mattock their roots out a bit to dislodge them from the soil at ease.

Ways to Remove Bushes
A chain can pull shrubs but not 100% of their roots

Again, bear in mind to take safety measures so that you will not accidentally damage the electricity or water lines underground.

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Use chemicals to kill shrubs

First of all, cut off most of the shrubs growing above the ground and solely leave a short part of the stumps there. Buy a glyphosate-based shrub-killing product from a local store or on the internet.

Know that you need to apply this treatment as soon as after you cut the shrubs. It will be ineffective for a perennial stump that has been in your garden for many years.

Safety tips:

The chemicals may be toxic, so you have to handle it gingerly and stick to the guide of manufacturers.

Do this in the fall or winter when there is not much sap inside the trees because you might need to drill several holes on the woody stumps to pour the chemicals into.

Be patient since it is likely to take quite a long time for the stumps to pass away, and these spots will be inappropriate for you to replant new trees (e.g., cherry blossom or lemon tree) instantly.

This method requires lawn care.

Have someone else collect your shrubs

Apart from renting some professional services to remove the shrubs for you, you may find someone does this free for you because they want to plant some shrubs in their gardens.

Take a photo of your trees and post it on the internet, magazines like Family Handyman, or hang a banner in front of your house. Then somebody might come to take the shrubs for you.


So we have shown you how to remove shrubs and their roots fast and efficiently in four simple ways:

  • Digging
  • Using a chain
  • Using chemicals
  • Get somebody to help

Among these, you can choose any method that suits you the most. Good luck!


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