How to Remove Bushes From Your Yard

Several bushes line the outside of a house while sprinklers water the yard.
  • 0-3 hours
  • Beginner
  • 0-1,000
What You'll Need
Wood chipper (optional)
Strong lawn bags
Plastic trash can or container
Work gloves
Branch pruners or a cordless reciprocating saw

Sometimes bushes can die or moving homes can saddle a new owner with someone else’s bad landscaping choices and being able to clear old shrubs is a necessity. Removing bushes from your yard requires more brute force than strategy, but a little planning can make the task less arduous and messy. Follow these steps and take some of the pain out of this job.

Step 1 – Prepare

Make sure that none of your bushes are protected species. If they are, they will need to be removed with a lot more care and transferred to an approved site rather than being uprooted and tossed out. Others need to be checked for any nests. A bush with a birds’ nest should not be removed until the hatchlings have left.

Also be sure to check where all of your utility lines are buried. You need to know the precise location of any that pass near or under any of the bushes.

You are going to produce a lot of chopped up vegetation, so be prepared to pack it away in bags and containers. If there is enough material in the bushes, it might be worth hiring a chipper for a day to make the mess more manageable.

Step 2 – Develop a Plan of Attack

It is best to perform all of these actions on each bush you remove, so if you want to remove one bush at a time, decide on the order before you begin so you can know where your starting/stopping point is at any given time. If you have rented a wood chipper, you will want to thin the bushes in one day to save the hire charge.

Step 3 – Reduce the Bushes

With secateurs (pruning shears) and branch pruners or a cordless reciprocating saw, cut the branches of the bush back. Instead of creating an unmanageable pile, cut the branches into sections that will fit into the bags or easily go through the wood chipper.

As you cut the bush back, work towards a single stump. Leave the stump prominent so that it can be located later.

Step 4 – Remove the Stump

Depending upon the type of bush you have removed, the stump will connect with a root system that lies just below the surface of the soil or deeper. Look all around each stump to see if you can locate roots that are just beneath the surface. If there are none, or those that you find are not creating a problem, return to the stump.

Roots that lie too near the surface can often be pulled up by hand once you cut them. Tear the roots out as much as you can, and cut them if they go down into the ground again. Fill the root channel that you have created as you go.

Dig around the stump to expose it to as great a depth as possible, and cut off any side roots. Cut the stump itself at least six inches below the yard surface.

Step 5 – Clean Up

Once you’ve finished the previous step, the stump and roots can be left to decompose in the normal way. As long as there is no surface intrusion, they will not be a problem.

After removing the bushes, you will be left with a few filled-in holes, several bags of cuttings or wood chippings to dispose of, and lots of wide open space.