Two Systems For Shrub Removal - One Easy and One Work
When it comes to shrub removal, there are several schools of thought.
The first is to hire a strong back to do the job. This could be a student, a young man of brawn or even a husband who hasn't learned better.
I use this system myself (yeah, I still have enough brawn).
First I cut down the deciduous shrub to within 18-inches of the ground. I hate having my eyes poked at while I'm digging. I generally do this because most shrubs are going to regrow from the base in any case. But when I'm simply creating a shrub removal project, I don't much care if the big old shrub lives or dies.
I do not cut down evergreen shrubs but I do spray them with an antidesiccant
before I move them.
If removing the shrub for good, I dig a trench around the shrub as close as I can - chopping through all the roots with a sharpened shovel of axe.
If removing it to transplant, I tend to give a heavily cut back shrub as much of a root ball as I can - I'll often dig a trench 18-inches away from the center of the shrub to give it a good sized chunk of roots.
When transplanting evegreens, I always give it 18-inches unless it is a very large specimen and then I don't dig it - I destroy it and start again (too much work for this gardener - get some machinery in if you have to handle root balls bigger than 18-24 inches.)
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Then I undercut the shrub with a shovel constantly working the shrub roots to loosen them.
Sooner or later, working that shovel I'm going to see the shrub start to tilt a bit or loosen up in the soil. At this point, I hack and chop with a sharpened shovel blade at the bottom of the roots to cut away any roots stopping the shrub from levering right out of the ground.
It's the undercutting that does the shrub removal job on a big old shrub. Without that - you're just wasting your time and effort trying to pry it out.
Those are the best ways for shrub removal. In my experience, the best by far is number one instructed to do number two.
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