How to Remove Bushes from Your Yard

woman wearing a yellow hat and standing in front of a flowering bush

Bushes serve many functions in a yard, but when their useful life is over, it’s time to take them out. Do you have a dead bush in your lawn, want more open space or want to put something fresh in its place? Removing bushes is a simple weekend DIY project. With a little elbow grease and the right tools, you can remove old bushes and make way for something new.

How to remove bushes in 5 easy steps:

Step 1: Call 811 before you dig

There’s nothing like a cut in a utility line to ruin a nice day in the yard. Call 811 and have your lines marked before you get to work. Call them several business days before you dig.

Step 2: Gather tools and protective gear

Let’s prevent the utility lines and you from harm by remembering to keep safety first. Also, consider what tools you’ll need on hand. 

Protective gear:

Eye protection/ear protection

Hard hat

Face screen

Chainsaw chaps

Work gloves

Long pants and sleeves

Protective boots

Tools you may need:

Chain saw, pruning saw, reciprocating saw

Hedge trimmer 

Bypass loppers

Hand pruning shears



Topsoil (to fill the hole)


Step 3: Cut the outside branches

To have access to the root ball, you’ll likely need to reduce the circumference of the bush. For small to medium bushes, take electric hedge trimmers and trim the outer leaves until you can see the interior stems. 

For large shrubs, like a yew, it may work better to cut out a few branches close to the stem and then use a chainsaw or reciprocating saw to cut from the inside at the main stem. It helps to have a friend haul the branches to the yard waste pile or pickup truck as you cut them.

Pro Tip: Lay tarps on all sides of the bush. As you cut, the tarps will catch the falling branches. After you’re through cutting, you can roll up the tarps and haul them to a compost pile or green waste canister. (Your back will thank you.)

Step 4: Cut the inside branches

If you have a smaller bush, continue to use the hedge trimmer to cut back the interior branches if they are still preventing access to the root ball. Trim enough from the bush so you can easily circle the bush with a shovel.

Step 5: Dig out the roots, and fill in the hole

Start working your way around the bush with the shovel. Once you reach the root system, get out your mattock and sever the roots. Then, lift the bush out of the ground. If you have large roots sticking out of the ground, use your mattock to cut them out of the hole.

If your overgrown shrub is too much for your muscles, rent a compact utility loader. You wrap a chain around the bush, and the machine provides the muscle to pull the bush out of the ground.

If you’re not planting something in its place right away, fill in the hole with the surrounding dirt and the topsoil you bought at the store.

If you dig up the bush at the roots, you’ll take care of the whole plant, roots and all. Since there’s no bush stump, there’s no need for a stump grinder or herbicide treatment, saving you time, money, and reducing chemical use in your lawn.

How much does it cost to remove bushes from the yard? 

If you hire a landscaper, expect to pay from $20.50 to $357.50 per bush, depending on the size and how easy it is to access. If you want to DIY, the cost is free if you have the tools on-hand. If you don’t, borrow them from a friend or rent them from your local home improvement store to save on costs.

If this sounds like too much work for your sore, aching back, contact one of our local lawn care pros today. They have the equipment and the manpower to make quick work of your toughest bush removal job.

Main Photo Credit: Apaha Spi | Unsplash

Sarah Bahr

Sarah is a writer who has previously worked in the lawn care industry. In her spare time, she likes to garden, raise chickens, and mow the grass with her battery-powered lawn mower.