Getting rid of an old growth Forsythia bush

As promised, here is the story of us ripping out our old Forsythia bush.  First, let me preface this story by saying that I’m not normally a fan of getting rid of old-growth plant life.  However sometimes shrubbery, if left un-tended, can grow so large as to hide your best asset – the curb appeal of your house!  Well, this Forsythia bush was doing just that very thing.

In this photo, I’d actually already begun trimming by the time Nick came by and remembered to snap a “before” photo.  So this isn’t quite as large as it originally was…but you get the idea.  We’d read some articles online about how difficult it could be to get one out of the ground…and even though it was an all day job, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it’d be.

First, we trimmed the exterior growth as much as we could with electric hedgetrimmers.  Then, we used a Corona Steel handled lopper from Lowes to cut all the branches.  We purchased a lopper that could cut limbs up to 3″ thick.  We DEFINITELY needed one of that size.  It also came in handy later when we were trying to snip big pieces of root.  (The 3″ version doesn’t appear to be available on Lowe’s website, but was available in store.)

Once we’d cut away almost all of the branches, leaving just enough sticking out of the ground to use as leverage to rock the base of the bush, we began to run the water hose slowly over each root base to soak the ground (without making it muddy).  Definitely don’t flood the ground too fast, or you’ll just make a huge mess and end up with a ton of mud everywhere.  (NOTE:  Forsythia bushes send out runner roots fairly close to the surface….and tend to have multiple root clusters.  Ours had about 6 root clusters with two big main ones.)

After really soaking the ground, we were able to dig up the roots using two different types of pick-axe, a hatchet, and the aforementioned loppers.  After several hours of digging, ripping, tearing, rocking the root base, and clipping bits here and there…we were finally able to free all the pieces.

After all that work, we were ready for a beer to cool down!

And don’t worry…we’re not planning on leaving a huge hole.  We’re actually going to most likely plant a Crape Myrtle tree in it’s place.  We like the idea of having something there…just not something that takes up so much visual space and hides the house.  I’ll update with what we put in it’s place.


6 thoughts on “Getting rid of an old growth Forsythia bush

  1. What ever you do, don’t order from the crape myrtle guy down in Florida. He and his establishment are not to be trusted to get you what you expected, or to deal with problems thereafter.

    1. Thanks for the warning. We’re getting it from Terrain. A friend works there and is gifting us the tree as a wedding present. So I know where to go if I need help! 🙂

  2. I love plant shopping at Terrain. I can get lost for hours.

    I read somewhere that you can also use a cutting from a Crape Myrtle to start a new tree. In Haddon Twp, everyone has a Crape Myrtle in tons of different shades of pink and purple. Super pretty.

  3. Working on removal of a 3 trunk forsythia this week. Chain saw first.Then some shovel work. Then rammed the trunk with garden tractor bucket and broke off chunks. More digging and chopping. Then we used pull chain on tractor to yank roots. More shovelling followed by rototilling. I don’t dare put in other shrubs till I see if I get sprouts.

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