How To Remove A Hedge

Removing hedges is a trickier task than it might sound at first. Hedge plants, in all their great variety of forms, have one thing in common: tenacity. Any remaining stumps or parts of a root ball could bring forth suckers and the plant will regrow. Even if you leave behind a stump that is completely dead, it could become home to fungus such as  honey fungus which could spread to other parts of the garden.

If you need to learn how to remove a hedge, we’ve written this guide to help you complete the project ensuring you are left with a healthy garden. 

Reasons to Remove a Hedge

We don’t always recommend removing hedges – in fact, where possible, we think it’s easier to leave them where they are since hedge removal is a difficult and sometimes costly process. Removing a hedge without a good reason is a waste of effort, so it’s important you make sure you’ve weighed all your options first. 

Let’s diagnose the problem before moving forward: Why do you want to remove your hedge?

  1. The hedge is dying or diseased. If your whole hedge, or the majority of it, is badly diseased or dying back, removing the hedge before others can be affected is the correct call. If, however, you’ve caught the disease quite early, we suggest pruning away the affected foliage to see if you can stop it from spreading.
  2. The hedge needs to be moved. Is your hedge in the wrong place? A lot of hedge problems can be boiled down to the wrong planting conditions, so moving your hedges could be a great way to keep them healthy long-term. That said, you must be certain you know which part of the environment is causing the problem first – if you moved a hedge that can’t tolerate waterlogged soil to somewhere just as waterlogged, for instance, this won’t solve the problem. 
  3. The hedge is overgrown. If your hedge is very overgrown this could be a reason to remove it, especially with evergreen and coniferous species that don’t regrow from old wood. But before writing the hedge off, we suggest practising your pruning technique on it. We have many guides to pruning in our knowledge base – When to Cut a Hedge and How to Prune Hedges to Grow Fuller should be a good start.

If you still want to remove your hedge, read on!

Before the Hedge Removal

Once you’ve made a firm decision to remove a hedge, planning is necessary! 

To start with, do some research. Check that your 30-year-old Leylandii (or whatever hedge you’re removing) isn’t directly above significant infrastructural materials, like drains or cables. If it is, you’ll have to avoid anything too invasive to pull out the stumps, as bringing in a mini digger could lead to the collapse of a drain or the severing of an important cable. Those repairs would cost significantly more than any cost associated with the removal of a hedge!

Regardless of whether you find anything under your soon-to-be-removed hedge, it is also worth researching local tree surgeons or landscape contractors. If the job is a big one, professional help is invaluable. This is the easiest way to remove a hedge – contracted workers will cut down the plants to their stump and then remove the remains safely and quickly.

How to Remove a Hedge

If you fancy the challenge of removing a hedge yourself, then the place to start is making sure you have the appropriate safety equipment is the first step. You’ll need safety glasses and, ideally, steel-capped boots to protect your feet. Long sleeves and long trousers are also wise to protect your skin from splinters.

After that get some pruners, hedge shears and loppers to start methodically cutting the branches down to the stumps. Once you’re at the stump stage, you have a few options for their final removal:

  1. Mini Digger. Although quick, the weight of these bits of equipment can compact the soil causing future gardening problems.
  2. A spade, crowbar and brute strength. Arguably the most personally satisfying and cheapest method of removing stumps but hard, hard physical work.
  3. Stump Grinder. You can hire these but be aware these can be a dangerous bit of kit so only consider using one if you are confident with other heavier pieces of garden machinery. This method removes most bits of the stump and root and any remains should rot down. The depth you grind down to depends on what you will be planting next. 20-25cm is fine for turf whilst 30cm is necessary if you’re planning on putting other plants in. The sawdust that is left from the grinding process can be mixed in with appropriate soil, compost or fertiliser. Do note though that if you are removing a diseased hedge plant then take away as much of the remaining sawdust as possible to reduce the spread of disease.

If you’re hoping to move this hedging plant instead of disposing of it, complete the removal process anywhere from late autumn to early spring when the plant is dormant. 

Remember that if the hedge is diseased, you’ll need to remove all the plant material – branches, clippings and roots – as thoroughly as you can to prevent the disease from spreading. 

And whatever you do, don’t try and burn the stumps whilst they are still in the ground. They’re inevitably too wet and the wood too green to burn properly.

Find Your Next Hedge with Hopes Grove Nurseries

Now you’ve removed your hedge, give yourself a well-deserved cup of tea or glass of wine. It’s time to plan what to do with all that space you’ve created – another more fitting hedge perhaps? We have a wide range of hedging plants here at Hopes Grove Nurseries, and we’re committed to helping you choose the right hedge for you. 

Contact our team for more information.