Holly – Removing

Q: I recently purchased a home with several large overgrown holly bushes along the walkway. I would like to remove them and replace with something less hazardous to one’s body when walking by. Recently I pruned the largest one back to the trunk and started digging. Needless to say, the holly bush is still there, and I am sore from all of the work. Is there any way to remove these bushes other than digging and chopping at the roots?

A: Many ambitious gardeners have found that removing olds shrubs is an arduous task. A sharpened shovel and a mattock are good for the job but I recently found another excellent tool: a “come-along”, to remove several stickery hollies.

Sometimes called a “fence-stretcher” or a “cable winch”, the come-along costs approximately $30.00. You’ll need a large tree (or a vehicle with a trailer hitch) near your shrub. I used a padded tow chain to connect my tool to a tree. I wrapped the cable of the come-along around the trunk of a shrub and cranked the lever handle several times. With a great snapping and popping of roots, each holly in turn came out of the earth. My skin was unpunctured, making the original investment well worth the price.

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