What's the best way to kill a shrub and keep it from growing back?
Killing a Shrub
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How Do I...
I am trying to kill a bush without digging it out. Is there a natural way to kill a shrub? I do not know what kind it is. I live in Tennessee and a friend said it could be a blackberry bush. I've poured a gallon of vinegar on it but didn't seem to do anything. I would appreciate any suggestions.
An old fashioned, easy, and inexpensive way of doing this is to cut the shrub or tree as low to the ground as possible and drive a copper spike into the center of stump. You can get the spikes at a hardware store, they're normally used for standing seam copper roofs. There is a chemical reaction of some sorts and the roots will not only die, but it also aids in helping to disintegrate them.
Best to Dig Out the Roots
If you want to get rid of your shrub, you will most likely have to dig it out. If you don't, you will always have the root system in the way of whatever else you might want to plant. If you really don't want to dig it up, you should trim back all the branches as short as possible, then pour concentrated bleach around the roots for several days.
Try pouring a lot of salt on it. You may have to cut the branches so the salt can seep in, but it works great at getting rid of trees you don't want!
Take Away the Sunshine
Cut the bush down to the ground and cover it with black plastic and an old carpet or boards. It will take time but eventually it will die from lack of sunlight.
High Powered Chemical
If in deed it is a blackberry bush then you will want to use crossbow. It's like round-up weed killer, but is very high dosage. Farmers used it all the time. We just used it on our blackberry bushes that took over our back yard and it worked like a charm. You can pick it up at a local feed store. Being in a big city myself it amazed me that we have 2-3 of them here and more just outside the city limits.
Give It Away
The easiest, cheapest, quickest way to get rid of a bush or plant is to offer it to a plant person or neighbor that likes it. Just make it so that they have to dig it up and fill in the hole. Why kill a possibly good plant? If someone offered me ferns and said all I would have to do was dig them up myself, I would! So check around and see if anyone would be interested in the shrub, you never know.
As Last Resort, Burn It Out
If it is indeed blackberry, you're going to have a very hard time getting rid of it! If you don't want to dig, and poisoning is dangerous and expensive, try boiling water.
If that won't work, try burning it out. First cut it back to the ground and set the stub on fire. If it's dry in your area, wet the ground around it first, and have the hose handy. Depending on the age of the plant, you may have to dig it out. So long as the roots are living, it may keep sending up shoots.
Blackberries are not allowed in some places because of their aggressive propagation. We have some that we planted, and they are constantly sending up shoots where shoots don't belong. I just mow them over, but they do grow back even from mowing.
Reviewed January 2018
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