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Helpful and effective tips on how to
remove stubborn shrub roots

Often added to a property as a defining feature that runs along paths or driveways or even along the front of homes, shrubs are a great part of landscaping – until they are not. They can start looking misshapen or tired, or you may simply decide that it is time for a change and want them gone. Whatever the case, you will soon find that shrub removal is not simply a matter of cutting the plants to the ground, because most shrubs remain alive at the roots and will most certainly regrow. Removing shrubs requires killing or removing their roots, which means that you will need the most effective methods for removing stubborn shrub roots.


Step by step removal

Removing stubborn shrub roots is more simple than you might imagine. You will need to simply follow a few easy steps:

  1. Cut the shrub all the way back until there is only a bare stump remaining, using pruning shears on smaller branches and then a pruning saw on the main trunk. In the interest of safety, wearing long sleeves, pants and gloves is important, which helps avoid skin irritation. Once the pruning and cutting of the shrub is complete, discard all plant material in a recycling bin.
  2. Once the stump is fully exposed, dig a trench around it using a round-point shovel, which will then reveal the root ball. Remove soil from the trench and cut through the roots with the head of the shovel. If any parts of the root are too thick for the head of the shovel to fully cut through, dig around the roots.
  3. Removing the roots from the soil requires digging under the root ball. Use a dual-sided tool called a mattock, which has both a beveled head and an ax head, and chop through any large roots with the ax head. As you work your way under the root ball and dig out the soil, use the beveled head.
  4. Pull both the root ball and the stump of the shrub out of the ground. If any roots remain and prevent you from pulling the stump free from the ground, cut them with the ax head of the mattock. Remove any soil clinging to the root ball by shaking it over the hole.
  5. An important step in removing stubborn shrub roots fully is also removing any root pieces beyond the severing point at the root ball. Using the mattock, a round point shovel or other hand digging tools, break up the soil in a wide area around the original location of the root ball, going to the same depth. Pull up any remaining roots as you dig so that all remnants of the shrub are completely removed. In some cases, you may also leave the root remnants in the ground, which will then decay naturally in the soil.
  6. Fill the hole up to grade with fresh, clean topsoil and smooth the area using a garden rake.

If you have followed the improper method of how to remove stubborn shrub roots, the shrub will likely grow back. Not removing all roots also impedes the growth of any new plants that you have planted in place of the “removed” shrubs.


Alternate ways to kill shrub roots

One method of causing root decay, which eases the process of removing stubborn shrub roots, is the application of RoundUp weed killer. Formulated for use on weeds, when shrubs take the chemicals in the weed killer travels up through their roots and causes the death of the roots as well as the rest of the plant. For a chemical-free option, try applying salt or vinegar. Vinegar adds acid to the soil of a plant and its leaves, which also prevents the plant from carrying water effectively. The application of salt dries out the plant, causing root burn and inflicting damage on the root system so that they are then unable to carry nutrients and water.

As outdoor experts, the team at Executive Landscaping, Inc. has years of experience in knowing how to remove stubborn shrub roots. We pride ourselves on the quality of our work, and our clients rely on our abilities in bringing their vision for their landscaping to life. Showcasing their property and adding to its beauty is always our top priority, and the standard of excellence we have become known for is the secret of our success.

Call Executive Landscaping, Inc. to learn more about how to remove stubborn shrub roots and the range of outdoor services we offer today!