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How to Remove a Holly Tree

Updated November 22, 2016

Holly trees come in a number of varieties and sizes from 5 to 20 feet tall and wide with leaves known for their pointed shape. While holly trees can stand alone or create a screen to cover portions of buildings or fences, sometimes they can become unwanted or diseased, making removal necessary. As you work to remove a holly tree, know that it will require plenty of muscle and more time than you may think, so gather as many helpful friends as you can to get the job done in an afternoon.

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Put on protective gear such as gloves and eye goggles. Use a chainsaw or pruning loppers to remove all of the branches from the holly tree and cut the main trunk down on only 2 to 3 feet tall.

Dig around the base of the holly starting 2 feet away from the trunk and working all the way around the tree to dig as much as possible. Sever roots as you hit them either with your pick axe or the blade of the shovel.

Use the pick axe to dig through and break up roots up to 2 feet deep as you work around the holly tree to loosen it from the ground. If the pick axe isn't strong enough, switch to a Dutchman's hoe.

Shake the holly tree stump back and forth to check for looseness and dig to free the roots where it is still connected to the ground.

Pull the remainder of the tree and the root ball from the ground, using the strength of several people for a large specimen.

Raise the remains of the holly tree out of the hole once it is thoroughly freed and discard. Clear any remaining roots from inside the hole before using the shovel to fill it back in with soil.


Dig out any holly shoots you see sprout up from pieces of root still left in the soil which may try to grow.


If you are removing the holly because of disease, be sure to discard all of the limb and leaf portions appropriately so disease cannot spread to other plants in your landscaping.

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Things You'll Need

  • Gloves
  • Eye goggles
  • Chainsaw or pruning loppers
  • Shovel
  • Pick axe
  • Dutchman's hoe

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