Top 5 Tips To Remove Shrubs From Your Garden

Sometimes shrubs can give you a nice touch in your garden.

But sometimes shrubs can also be a huge annoyance to you and you might want to get rid of them.

Some tips to remove shrubs from your garden include removing branches from around the shrub, digging around the shrub, cutting the big roots, using a rope to pull the shrub out, and using a vehicle to pull the shrub out.

Read on to find out why these tips are so useful.

Why shrubs can sometimes be hard to remove

There are a few reasons why a shrub can be so hard to remove from your garden.

Soil conditions

Depending on the type of soil the shrub is located in, this could lead to some difficult conditions for removing the shrub.

If the soil is hard clay, the shrub will not give up its spot in the ground easily.

This could lead to more digging to the point that you almost have to dig up the whole shrub before you can get it out.

It is often suggested that you should apply some water to the shrub area to help get it out, but if you already have clay-like soil, then adding water might actually make it worse.

So if you have clay, avoid adding water.

Age of the shrub

The longer a shrub is located in a particular spot, the more time it has to establish its root system.

And though a shrub might not look too big from the top, the root system below can actually be pretty big.

So the older the shrub is, the more roots you might have to cut away before the shrub is ready to come out of the ground.

Tools to dig up the shrub

You may need the following tools to dig up your shrub


You are going to be working a lot with your hands, so it is recommended that you have a pair of work gloves handy.

Otherwise, you may find yourself with blisters all over your hands, which means you will not be able to work on your shrub problem for as long as you would like.

So make sure you have a pair of gloves available to use.

Pruning shears

As part of removing the shrub, you are going to spend some time cutting away the branches.

Cutting away the branches allows you to free up some of the weight of the shrub before you attempt to pull it out of the ground.

It will also help you expose the root ball, which is the main part of the shrub that is found underground.

Round-bladed spade

A round-bladed spade is going to be one of the more useful items you need to pull up the shrub.

The spade not only allows you to dig up the soil around the shrub, but it can also be used to cut away at the root system once you have those spots underground.

In case the spade is not sharp enough, you may need one or more of the following.

Hand saw

Some of the roots are going to be pretty thick and the spade can only do so much.

If you get to this point, then the best option you might have is getting down on your hands and knees and cutting away at the root system with a hand saw.

Of course, since you will be working in the ground, the smaller the hand saw the better, since you may be limited in the amount of space you have to move the saw back and forth.


A mattock is another useful tool that will help pull up the shrub.

The mattock can help pull up the soil from the ground (though not as easily as a shovel), but it can also be used to chip away at the root system.

Use the horizontal blade, also known as adze, to cut away at any root systems you find in the ground.

How to remove shrubs by hand

Since you have gathered all the tools you will need, now it is time to remove the shrub.

  1. Start by pruning away the branches from the shrubs. You will want to measure about 20 inches up from the soil and then start cutting away branches higher than the 20 inches. We leave the branches below 20 inches in case we need some leverage, later on, to pull out the shrub. Dispose of any branches you cut away by either composting them or throwing them away if any diseases are known in the shrub.
  1. Dig up the soil around the shrub at least a foot out. As we mentioned earlier, your shrub might have a deep and extensive root system, so digging out a bit wider than the shrub will give you plenty of space to dig up the root system. When you come across any roots in the ground, use your spade, mattock, or hand saw to cut up the root. Any roots left connected will make it incredibly difficult to get up the root ball underground.
  1. Once you have dug up around the main base of the shrub, have one person rock the shrub back and forth while another person is looking under the shrub to cut up any more roots. If you are lucky, this will be enough to get up the whole shrub. If not, you may need to go to the section on removing the shrub using a car.
  1. If you were able to get the whole shrub out, dispose of the shrub by either composting it or throwing it away if there is a known disease in the shrub.

Removing the shrub with a vehicle

If you have gone through steps 1 through 3 above and are still unable to remove the shrub from the garden because it is either too big or you cannot get underneath it, then you may need to use a vehicle to remove the shrub from the ground.

This happened to me when I was doing my Eagles Project as a 17-year-old boy.

We were fixing up the front of a church building to give them a nice yard and we came across a shrub that we could not get out of the ground.

So, we had to introduce a truck into the equation to get shrub out.

After following steps 1 through 3 above, then follow these steps to finish the job.

  1. You will either need a heavy-duty rope or a chain. A regular rope for clotheslines will not do it for you. Once you have a heavy-duty rope or a chain, put it around the base of the shrub, then attach the other end to your car or truck. It is recommended that the car has a tow line on the back and that is what you are tying the rope or chain to. Otherwise, if you attach it to another part of the car, you might end up breaking the car.
  1. Slowly drive your vehicle away from the shrub until the rope or chain is tight. Once you have it tight, slowly drive forward and see if that is enough to pull the shrub out of the ground. If not, rev your car in quick, short bursts to rock the shrub. If this still does not work, rev your engine slowly and then give it more power. If this still doesn’t work, try wetting the soil around the shrub for up to an hour and then try again. Hopefully, this is enough to get the shrub out of the ground. If not, you need to be careful because pulling too much with your car can break your car.
  1. If you still are not able to get the shrub out, at this point, it would be wise to call a professional over to help you finish the job.


To get rid of a shrub, prune the branches 20 inches above the ground.

Then dig around the shrub and cut away any roots found underground.

If needed, use a car to help pull it out.

And always remember to take things slow to avoid hurting yourself or damaging your car.

Bill Lantz

Bill Lantz is a database analyst by day and a weekend warrior by... weekend. He's currently building up his own miniature homestead in Central Utah with his wife and six kids. Some of his interests include knowing random trivia about films, reading history books, and playing video games with the boys.

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