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I have a row of bushes, probably 200 feet long, that have become unsightly. Mixed in with the bushes are many other weeds, trees, etc that also need to be removed - hundreds in total. Trunks probably range from < 1/2 inch to 6 inches in diameter. I was thinking of cutting them down, as close to the ground as possible, then removing the roots at a later time. To cut them down, I was thinking of using a pole saw and walking alongside the row of bushes to cut them down.

Is this a viable tree/bush removal option? What is the most efficient way to remove these bushes? Any help is appreciated.

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  • if you don't stump out the roots you won't be able to use the area for some time and they might even regrow – kevinsky Apr 3 at 14:43
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Time efficient?

Hire a bulldozer.

Push the debris into a pile, have a load or two of manure (chicken is great, horse may be easier to find and also works well) dumped over the pile. Wait two or three years, enjoy your pile of topsoil/compost.

Money efficient?

Goats.

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    We had goats growing up and I can attest that they will chew to the ground small bushes and trees no problem (<=2") and will kill slightly bigger trees by repeatedly stripping their bark off (<=4"). After that, you might need a saw to take down what is left of the larger trunks. – UnhandledExcepSean Apr 3 at 15:55
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    We raise goats. One way to get happy, well-fed goats with little effort is to block them from one pasture for a year, then the next year switch it around and block them from the pasture they browsed down to nubs last year and let them get at the fresh stick-ups in the other pasture. Goats - nature's brush hogs! – Bob Jarvis - Reinstate Monica Apr 4 at 22:28
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    @BobJarvis-ReinstateMonica How do you block goats? (Asking because I've seen more than one picture of goat-trees.) – chrylis -cautiouslyoptimistic- Apr 5 at 5:19
  • Fencing - 4 foot high woven wire, not welded - supported on either wooden or steel posts works fine. A strand of electric inside the fence about a foot off the ground helps keep them off the fence. Goats love to play on downed trees but they can't climb a tree if its vertical, so keep your pastures cleaned up and they'll be fine. – Bob Jarvis - Reinstate Monica Apr 5 at 14:20
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If it were my job, I'd cut down the hedge to about 1 foot tall, get a mini-excavator and dig up the roots. This will also help loosen the soil for replanting. You could work other areas of the soil as well.

Disposing of the debris is a matter of choice. I like Ecnerwal's suggestion if you have the space and patience. Or rent a chipper and create chips for paths or whatnot. Or pile it up in several piles, wait until after the summer and after some solid rains, burn them if allowed in your area. I put large sheets of cardboard over the pile weighed down by some additional debris. Keeps the pile mostly dry and burns easily and safely after some solid rains. That or have it hauled off, which could get expensive. Hope this helps...my first post in this community.

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One piece of advice - most 'bushes' i.e. trees, shrubs and weeds just start growing again if you chop them down, and as its spring, they'll do it pretty soon after cutting down. Most conifers do not regrow once cut down, but most other plants do, so I'd suggest only cutting down those you intend to remove the roots of in fairly short order, rather than cutting the whole lot at once, then slowly working along over a period of months taking roots out. Stumps and roots left for a few months at this time of year (assuming you're in the northern hemisphere) will grow back and you'll have to cut them all down again.

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    How you cut the bigger trees depends how you are going to get the stumps out. If you plan to pull them out, leaving 3 or 4 feet of trunk gives you some leverage and more space to attach the chains. On the other hand if you are going to use a stump grinder, cut them as low to the ground as possible - grinding through tree trunks is a waste of time, and can be dangerous if the grinder starts throwing pieces of wood around. – alephzero Apr 4 at 0:24
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A 4x4 pickup with a low-range transfer case should help. Wrap chains (not straps, which can snap violently) around the trunks and creep the vehicle to pull them out. The larger ones you may have to treat more like trees and grind the stumps.

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  • This works with any car. If you use a little momentum, that can help too. Your warning about chains is dead right. The easiest way to screw up though is to attach to a part of the car which isn't structurally strong. Many cars these days have a screw-in towing eye, but people forget about it and just attach stuff anywhere, and then wonder why they've pulled their plastic bumper off. – Graham Apr 5 at 8:58
  • Momentum is a good way to bend up the fragile components of modern cars. Most aren't built on frames anymore (which is a good thing from a safety standpoint). I would never use a tow point for something like this--the shock can vastly exceed design limits. Even a pickup frame can be tweaked by a jolt from a stubborn stump. Slow and easy is best, and that requires four wheel drive and torque. – isherwood Apr 5 at 22:28
  • Agreed, use with extreme caution! – Graham Apr 6 at 8:05
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Chain saw, hedge trimmers, wood chipper or match or online advertisement.

Assuming that you are familiar with using a chain saw enough to be safe. Note that you can forgo the hedge trimmers if your chain saw skills are high enough.

Use the hedge trimmers to come in waist to knee height to locate and get access to the main truck/root. Then use the chain saw to cut it down. Cut to lay each bush on the ground in the same direction.

Use the saw and hedge trimmers to work your way up the trunk delimbing and cutting the truck into reasonable sized pieces as you go. Work your way up the branches too.

Either burn or use a wood chipper to turn the debris into small chunks that will biodegrade quicker. You might keep or sell the larger pieces for firewood.

Source: personal experience

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Kissing the ground monthly with carefully calibrated amounts of herbicide can kill off the weeds and leave the bushes standing. As they say, poison is all about dosage. An expert on herbicides, if told your desirable and undesirable plant species, may be able to help.

For instance 2,4-D goes after broadleaf but leaves grasses alone, and is quite safe (except that the highly concentrated form sold to farmers and sprayers, a deep burgundy, is highly acidic and will injure and maim like any other acid.)

When most undesirables are brown, you go in with a polesaw and cull the other stuff by hand. Now you have a monospecies hedge and you only had to cut down 1/4 of the plants instead of the whole kaboodle.

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Easy. What I did was get a truck with a hydraulic arm on the back and pulled each one vertically out of the ground. Each Bush was secured by a chain wrapped around the trunk, then up she went. Roots mostly pulled out, and some broke off. Fast and efficient with no need to trim or saw. Obviously any machine with a hydraulic arm will do the job. I just happened to know someone with it installed on a truck.

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Cut everything down to ground level and remove the prunings. Mow regularly, say once a month minimum, with a robust rotary mower or strimmer (mower will be easier) to eventually kill any regrowth. Many trees and shrubs will reshoot after cutting back, but they won't survive the new growth being removed by regular mowing.

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