So I am facing a dilemma regarding what do to with bushes behind my house. A little background here. The bushes that I am talking about are in HOA controlled area and they are Acacia bushes. They are pretty old and do have a very thick trunk at this point.

My end goal here is to have these bushes removed and then plant some ground covering after they are removed.

I am presented with two options with my landscaper:

  1. Remove them by cutting them and remove roots as well. This option is pretty costly since, according to them, it takes some good amount of effort to have the roots removed.

  2. Option #2 is to just cut the bushes and then spray something(Roundup, diesel, or something else. I do not know what are they exactly going to spray) to kill the roots after cutting it down.

Now, Option #2 is a much cheaper option since they are not spending a lot of time trying to remove the roots. However, I am a little afraid to take this option for a couple of reasons

1.What if It is too effective: Meaning what happens if because they did spray a herbicide in this area, nothing grows after the bush is gone. Remember, I need to gro ground cover in this area after the bushes are gone

  1. What if it is not very effective: Meaning that what happens if they spray something and it seems that the bush is dead for the time being. We plant ground cover on it and then bush starts to regrow. This can be a real problem since as I mentioned before, this is HOA controlled property and if it regrows then HOA will hold me responsible for all the incurring costs. so I need to make sure that it is gone for sure before we plant the ground covering there.

Any ideas/suggestions?

2 Answers 2


It sounds like your contractor is proposing using a stump killer if you don't have the stumps and roots bored out. These products are usually not sprayed,but applied directly to the stump; formulations vary, I always use a liquid stumpkiller and apply it to holes or little wells I've drilled into the stump,but there are granular formulations which are usually spread over the stump,then covered. These products do not poison the soil so long as they are not spilled onto it,so check exactly what they are thinking of using and how they will be applying it. You usually do have to wait about 4-6 weeks after this treatment before replanting the area.

A machine is usually used to bore out stumps and large roots,to a depth of a foot to 18 inches - it does take time, of course, and makes a bit of a mess, but can usually be done in a day. You will then be able to dig over the area and add organic materials such as composted manures or good garden compost to boost its fertility prior to replanting.

The other factor is this - if the stumps are not removed, the soil you're thinking of planting your new ground cover plants into will be full of roots from the Acacias, as well as the stumps, and this will mean you may not be able to plant exactly where you want to, or use as many plants as you would like. The other possible drawback is honey fungus - this is a fungus that can infect live or dead wood, but usually starts in dead wood like old stumps,band will happily make its way through a garden killing other, live woody plants on its way, though it leaves soft stemmed plants alone. The risk of that is relatively small, but it is still a risk.

  • 1
    Stump grinding is only going to take out the main roots (and they may not even do that, but just grind out the base of the trees) but you will be left with a network of small roots everywhere. They may be only half an inch diameter or less, but will be tough enough to stop you digging the ground. But if you want to plant small ground-cover plants where you only need to make small holes a few inches deep, that isn't a big deal. The roots will take several years to decompose naturally.
    – alephzero
    Aug 29, 2020 at 20:21
  • 1
    In my area, "landscapers" (to use the term VERY loosely) tend to grind stumps to a depth of 3 inches (7,5cm) to 6 inches (15 cm). This is what they consider to be "lawn depth". It's ridiculous, but they get away with it. The next time there's a drought, the homeowners wonder why the grass in that spot turns brown, and after 10 years or so they wonder why their lawn has sunk quite a bit in that one area. The city I live in grinds the stumps only to the level of the ground - hey, if you can walk on it, then it's not a problem, is it? SMH.
    – Jurp
    Aug 29, 2020 at 22:10
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    @Jurp - good lord,surely not,what's the point of paying them extra to grind out the stump and major roots then? IN the UK, its done down to a minimum of a foot, which I consider to be a bad job, or 18 inches minimum, which is more useful. What you describe is just cutting down low enough to make the stump flush with the ground,that's not grinding out.
    – Bamboo
    Aug 29, 2020 at 23:40
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    @Bamboo - I certainly agree with you, but yeah, that's what's going on here. Most "landscapers" are just "guys with a skidsteer and riding lawnmower" who have no horticultural education whatsoever. A city joke is "what's orange, has four wheels, and sleeps two?" Answer: A Public Works truck. We have a highly nepotistic city with totally worthless public works employees. After all, "work" is a four-letter word.
    – Jurp
    Aug 30, 2020 at 0:05
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    @Jurp do you mean that 'landscapers' are generally public works/utility employees? In the UK, local authorities only do this kind of work on their own properties; everyone else employs a private tree surgeon (you would call it an arborist) who usually runs a separate stump grinding operation for tree work - landscapers are a separate area, not necessarily anything to do with trees. And our local authorities don't offer landscaping of any sort to the general public...
    – Bamboo
    Aug 30, 2020 at 11:30

Go with option 2, as long as your contractor is using Triclopyr (commonly sold as a stump and root killer) or a chemical called Garlon II. With either chemical, they should just paint the liquid onto the cut branches as soon as they've finished the cut - in fact, my bottle f triclopyr contains a brush built-in to the cap to make this easier. If triclopyr is not sprayed, there is no residue in the soil, although I have had an experience where the utility company sprayed too-high of a concentration under the power lines and it migrated through the soil and killed everything in the area.

I wouldn't worry about honey fungus as long as your groundcover isn't a woody plant - this fungus (Armillaria) doesn't affect herbaceous plants, according to my sources.

  • I think what you mean here is that if triclopyr is applied to the stumps by drilling them and pouring it into it then it will effectively kill the tree + roots in a few weeks. However, if someone is decided to spray the same compound and it ends up on the ground then it can hurt/damage the soil to the point that nothing may grow there. Is that correct understanding of your comments?
    – Lost
    Aug 30, 2020 at 16:53
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    No- the instructions clearly state to brush the chemical on the cut stumps (hence the brush built in to the cap). No need for drilling (the chemical acts on the cambium, not the heartwood). Alternatively, you can use triclopyr as a basal spray. If it's sprayed with a large hose at too-high a concentration (as the inexperienced utility workers did on my property), then it will indeed migrate through the soil, especially if there's no rain for a few days. No issues if it's painted onto stumps, as recommended by the manufacturer.
    – Jurp
    Aug 30, 2020 at 18:01
  • Thank you. I appreciate your comments.
    – Lost
    Aug 31, 2020 at 5:45
  • I think your answer was equally good. I just had to go with one. I wish I could mark two answers :(
    – Lost
    Aug 31, 2020 at 14:21

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