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Removing hedge rootmass

 
pioneer
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Help ! I am not able physically to dig such things out, I have to hire help ( and even then no-one will do physical work, in general)  

It is that standard suburban hedge plant gone wild, the one sculpted into rectangles with hedge trimmers.  It is now cut down but there are many root ball stools so nothing can be done with the area yet.  It is such a common bush I can't think of the name right now.

Even proven techniques on removal to keep from broken tools and keep the hours down for paid help  or if this type of plant can be smothered by paper covered with mulch( this has never worked here for other bushes), meaning you have personally done it,   It is very drought tolerant.  
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pollinator
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Privet?

For a single plant you can do a lot with a digging bar, some brute force and patience. No way I would want to do a whole hedge like that manually though. Call around your local tree surgeons and equipment hire places. Someone will have a stump grinder which is the tool you need. A big beefy thing that gets in and grinds it all up.
 
Sue Reeves
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Michael Cox wrote:Privet?

For a single plant you can do a lot with a digging bar, some brute force and patience. No way I would want to do a whole hedge like that manually though. Call around your local tree surgeons and equipment hire places. Someone will have a stump grinder which is the tool you need. A big beefy thing that gets in and grinds it all up.



Yes! Thank you privet is the one.

Well I may be able to hire local tree guy who owns a stump grinder just for this location as the fence is totaled and it is right next to the driveway, most of my property is inaccessible
 
gardener
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Options:

1.  Dig them out, one torturous root ball at a time.  As you indicated, this isn't really an option for you.

2.  Pay someone else to dig them out.  Here in Southern California, we've got guys who stand outside the Home Depot or in other locations and are available to work as day laborers.  The name for them in Spanish is jornaleros -- the going rate is $8 to 10 an hour -- you negotiate that with them as you stand in the parking lot and they all swarm up to you.

3.  Get your neighbor to use his stump grinder.  Frankly, this sounds like the best deal and would certainly be quickest.  Its an even better deal if he's willing to do it in exchange for pie or two, or something fresh and amazing from your garden.  

4.  Burn them out.  Get a 55-gal. steel drum and cut one end out of it.  That goes over the stump.  On the top of the barrel, cut out a smaller hole for your stove pipe/exhaust.  Mount a 3 foot tall, 6 or 8 inch steel exhaust chimney pipe and you've got yourself a rocket stump burner.  You'll need to cut a holes right at the base so you can feed boards/wood and keep the fire stoked.  What's it say about me that I really really enjoy burning stuff?  Frightening, really, but I love going out there at night, feeding the fire, sitting in a lawn chair, watching the embers glow . . .

5.  Pigs.  With a auger bit on your cordless drill, drill a 3 inch hole down under each of the stumps.  Fill those holes with corn kernels that you've been fermenting for a week or so.  Let the pigs loose and watch them tunnel right down into the ground to get every last kernel of corn.

6.  Bury them with something else that will keep them from re-sprouting.  Perhaps you could cover the small stumps with some black plastic and then build a raised bed over them.  Fill with soil, plant veggies, and in five years, those stumps will be gone.

Best of luck.  Please update this thread when you've figured out what you're going to do.  I'm always curious to see before and after photos.
 
pollinator
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I mean, you could just leave them, take pruning shears or whatever to any green that shows itself, and just layer compost overtop of it. The root mass will eventually starve and become compost tunnels within the soil.

If suckering from the stumps is the issue, I would put down lots of cardboard instead of plastic. A double layer should do, and if it's pre-soaked, it will be easier to lay. I would then cover the soaked cardboard with mulch, perhaps preceded by some compost and topsoil. Anything green that pokes through can be chopped, the mulch and soil cleared back a bit to allow for another patch of soaked cardboard to be applied, and everything spread back overtop.

The advantages of cardboard over plastic are fourfold. One, no plastic bits to deal with as the plastic or tarp material slowly degrades in the environment. Two, no issues removing large, intact pieces from around delicate perennial plantings after several seasons of being buried in the soil strata. Three, any issues of toxicity regarding cardboard can be easily mitigated by the judicious overuse of aerated compost extracts and fungal slurries, and by carefully sourcing the cardboard used to include the least quantity of printed surface area, or vegetable inks; the fungi will sequester heavy metals for use elsewhere, and break down other contaminants, and the remaining cardboard material becomes worm food. And four, it is much easier to plant through a mulch and cardboard combo than plastic or tarp material.

My favourite cardboard for use as mulch is actually the lowly pizza box, which cannot be recycled due to having been contaminated by food residue. It takes pizza boxes out of the landfill and turns them into healthy soil, and keeps people from putting plastics into their soils and soil food webs, and by extension, themselves.

-CK
 
pollinator
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I have used a farm jack made into a tripod with the addition of two boards the same length of the jack.  A short heavy log chain is wrapped around the trunk and the jack can lift the roots out.  Harbor Freight jack was what I used and it works great.  Wet the roots a couple days in advance.  
Youtube video.  
 
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I have removed this exact type of hedge. I don't think there's any point going over the day labor thing because it would be a huge cost even at $8 an hour.

This job has been done wrong. If there was an intention to take the roots out from the beginning, the way to do that is to dig a bit for the first one, then wrap a strap attached to a chain and pull it out with a truck. A mini excavator works great but we don't all have one of those.

Each one is pulled in turn, dragging toward the area where others have already been removed. Sometimes one breaks off, but usually they pop out. Too late for this here, but that's how you get rid of a privet hedge.

I think Chris has the best solution now. Slowly pruning it to death every time you see some green and then once it stops sending out much, cover with lots of mulch with cardboard on the bottom.
 
Michael Cox
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Dale Hodgins wrote:I have removed this exact type of hedge. I don't think there's any point going over the day labor thing because it would be a huge cost even at $8 an hour.

This job has been done wrong. If there was an intention to take the roots out from the beginning, the way to do that is to dig a bit for the first one, then wrap a strap attached to a chain and pull it out with a truck. A mini excavator works great but we don't all have one of those.

Each one is pulled in turn, dragging toward the area where others have already been removed. Sometimes one breaks off, but usually they pop out. Too late for this here, but that's how you get rid of a privet hedge.

I think Chris has the best solution now. Slowly pruning it to death every time you see some green and then once it stops sending out much, cover with lots of mulch with cardboard on the bottom.



Just to be clear, as Dale hasn't explicitly stated it - rather than trim the stems down to the root ball, you leave it long and then use the stem as a lever.
 
Sue Reeves
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Michael Cox wrote:

Dale Hodgins wrote:I have removed this exact type of hedge. I don't think there's any point going over the day labor thing because it would be a huge cost even at $8 an hour.

This job has been done wrong. If there was an intention to take the roots out from the beginning, the way to do that is to dig a bit for the first one, then wrap a strap attached to a chain and pull it out with a truck. A mini excavator works great but we don't all have one of those.

Each one is pulled in turn, dragging toward the area where others have already been removed. Sometimes one breaks off, but usually they pop out. Too late for this here, but that's how you get rid of a privet hedge.

I think Chris has the best solution now. Slowly pruning it to death every time you see some green and then once it stops sending out much, cover with lots of mulch with cardboard on the bottom.



Just to be clear, as Dale hasn't explicitly stated it - rather than trim the stems down to the root ball, you leave it long and then use the stem as a lever.



This is fantastic advice in general for a tree or hedge.  In this case we unfortunately did not have a main or central stem rather a multitude of relatively brittle stems.  I was actually surprised at the mass at the base given what was hacked thru on the outside.  I have a call out to my tree guy I use,  he is very experienced and trustworthy so I will see what he says and update.  But,  thank you for clarifying for the next person faced with this job.
 
pollinator
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I agree with all of the other replies.

You are where you are now... and your hope is to plant something else there.

We've got a tool called the "Holey-Moley hydroplanter" which looks like a walking cane, with a valve near the handle and widening at the base which tapers to a point. One hooks it up to a garden hose and the water washes away the soil creating a planting hole. Not only is the hole already watered in preparation for transplanting, but it works amazingly well in soil that is a tangle of roots that a shovel would never penetrate!!
(We have two mature maple trees in our small front yard and this has made planting flowers a dream)

The other thing to do would be to add soil on top of the area/around your new plantings, and as Chris says, keep trimming back any growth from the old stools.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I guess I wasn't clear before, that you don't cut any of the old hedge off, except maybe enough so you can get your arms in there. The best way to get a bite on it is to put a simple loop that tightens when you pull. If it's put right around the base, it usually won't slide off. I like to use a short crane strap attached to a chain that is attached to the vehicle. Rope can snap back and fling stuff at the truck. Chain doesn't do this. It's good if you can pull in the same direction that the hedge runs, so you're always pulling toward the disturbed ground from the one before.

It can help to water the area really really well for several days before work starts. A pressure washer can be inserted into the ground in many places along the length of this, to blast away some of the soil.
 
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If it’s one of those annoying suckering type hedges that will keep growing back from the smallest root, I suggest burning it out e.g. place a sheet of tin against that timber structure to protect it, make a small bonfire where the hedge was, and let it slowly burn for a couple of hours – as if you were making coals for cooking on a winters evening. Seems like a good idea to combine the hedge kill with a wood fired BBQ and a few beers.

We’ve done a similar thing with a troublesome melaleuca species and it worked very well.



 
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