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How to kill holly bushes

Updated March 23, 2017

Holly is an attractive plant when small and self-contained, but bushes can grow large and dominate other plants in your garden. A holly bush less than 75 cm from your house can also threaten the foundations. Furthermore, holly bushes grow back even after all their branches are pruned off. Options for getting rid of the holly bush include removing the plant and its roots with a small mechanical digger, pulling it out with a rope or poisoning it.

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One-day removal

  1. Hire a small mechanical digger to rip the bush up by the roots, or cut it down to a stump to be pulled out by a car. Use a chainsaw to cut it down to a stump.

  2. Dig down into the roots in order to create a gap under the stump that you can thread a rope through. Wrap the rope around and under the stump.

  3. Tie the rope to a solid portion of your car (not merely the bumper) and try to pull the stump out.

  4. If the first attempt fails, cut through some of the roots of the holly bush with an axe or hand sawto reduce the resistance, and try pulling again.

Long-term removal

  1. Prune or saw the shrub as close to the ground as possible. Hammer a copper spike vertically into the centre of the trunk. Copper spikes are available at hardware and DIY shops and are used to hammer down copper roofing. Do this in autumn or winter, when the shrub's nutrients (and therefore the copper) are pulled into the root system. This will help kill the root system.

  2. Cover the stump of the holly bush with a tarpaulin sheet or weed barrier to deprive it of sunlight.

  3. Another option is to pour bleach into the stump and around the roots for several days, or to pour salt into the open stump. However, this will harm the soil around the holly bush.

  4. Tip

    Do not set the stump on fire. This is called "top-killing" and will leave the roots intact to grow back in the spring.

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Things You'll Need

  • Mechanical digger
  • Chainsaw
  • Axe or hand saw
  • Copper spike or several copper nails
  • Hedge trimmers
  • Tarpaulin sheet
  • Bleach or salt

About the Author

Paul Dohrman's academic background is in physics and economics. He has professional experience as an educator, mortgage consultant, and casualty actuary. His interests include development economics, technology-based charities, and angel investing.

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