Need Advice: Removing Evergreen Shrub

Michaela .:. thegarden@902 .:. (Zone 5b - Iowa)July 31, 2014

Hi I am hoping someone here can give me feedback on what to expect when removing this shrub! We just moved in a year ago. We had smaller ones all along our driveway, several of which were dead. I do not like these shrubs at all so we removed the row of them right away last summer. Our neighbor helped us rip them out w/ his truck and we filled in the holes with soil.

This one is extremely close to our house and is much older. I'm afraid to rip/dig it out because I am sure the root system on this one is very deep and I don't want to destroy the garden bed or anything close to the house.

It has about 3-4 large canes at the base that you can't see in the picture. I was wondering if I took a saw and cut each of the canes down to the base of the ground if it would come back?

I feel like that's my best bet but I don't want to cut this thing down and just have it grow right back. I'd like to plant something else next summer if possible.

Thanks in advance for any advice and suggestions!

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hortster(6a, southcentral KS)

It is a yew. Yews can be cut back severely and can regrow - most other evergreens won't come back (especially junipers). Having said that, it won't come roaring back as they are fairly slow to recover from hard pruning. You can always try cutting it off at the ground and paint the fresh cut around the outside edge with undiluted Roundup (41%) and that might be enough to kill it. That works on a lot of other things, but not sure about yew.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 3:39PM
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Michaela .:. thegarden@902 .:. (Zone 5b - Iowa)

Thank you, hortster. Of course it grows back! Haha.

I normally don't like to use roundup but I suppose painting it on won't harm much (aside from the yew). If it'll keep it from coming back that's worth it.

Do you think next spring I'll be okay to plant something else there or will the root system be too large to plant something?

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 3:51PM
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hortster(6a, southcentral KS)

Any Roundup that gets in the soil will be inert by then. No idea how profuse your root system is - the answer lies with a little shovel work! ;o) Whatever you plant needs to be farther from the foundation, so you may escape a LOT of shovel work.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 5:07PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

first.. insure you know where all the utilities are ...

cut everything off.. leaving 2 to 3 feet of trunk ...

and start digging about 3 feet out.. sharpen your shovel first ... and just keep going.. using the trunks to rock it back and forth as you go ... to find the next root to be cut ...

you will probably be surprised how few big roots there are ... and there is usually one.. rather straight down.. which makes you dig a lot ...

it doesnt matter if it regrows... so idiot.. thought that cute little plants they bought.. would stay cute and little... guess what.. its a tree... they never stop growing ...

so dont make the same mistake when you go to buy a plant... in fact... come back and talk with us.. and we will help you decide on a replacement ...

a well planted plnat... at ten years.. will not touch the house.. and allow you to maintain your house.. w/o having to whack on it.. every 48 hours ...

most likely.. you need that spot.. to landscape your new castle... so dont just kill the stump ... as i would.. if it were some 200 feet from the house ...

get the exercise.. and remove it ...


    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 6:24PM
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arlene_82 (zone 6 OH)

I have the same issue with a yew that looks to be about the same size as yours and just as close to the foundation. I want it gone! I found this thread rather informative:

Not sure how I'm going to get mine out without destroying all of the perennials in front of it *sigh*

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 2:46PM
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Michaela .:. thegarden@902 .:. (Zone 5b - Iowa)

Thank you arlene for that link. I will take a look at that and see if that helps me at all!

I hear you! They are just not my cup of tea. Good luck w/ yours! Let me know what you decide to do. :)

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 9:31PM
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I find it's really helpful to have a good pair of bypass pruners when digging out mature shrubs. Sometimes they cut the roots a lot easier than even a sharp shovel (for me).

    Bookmark   August 2, 2014 at 3:33PM
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I dug out 6 huge yews (12' tall!).
First I used a chain saw and cut down all the main stems to about a foot above the ground.
Then I used a shovel as explained by ken_adrian above.
Used a large loppers and my hand trimmer to cut root as I went along and found roots.
Then I used Tordon (the best for any hardwood to hit each of the roots...all you need is a couple of drops full-strength on each large root...I put it in a shampoo bottle so I can just get a drop at a time. Tordon promotes rotting of the plant tissue, so the roots will be rotted very quickly. I replanted with other shrubs a few days later, planting in between where the yews had been. 3 years later, I have a beautiful flowering shrub border with plants from 3-7' tall!
I too do not like to use round-up, but Tordon does the trick without using very much at all.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 5:05PM
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