How Best To Kill Your Hedge Through It's Roots - Our Guide!

Written By James
Updated July 24, 2021 by James

How Best To Kill Your Hedge Through It's Roots - Our Guide!

Unruly, untamed, unwanted, overgrown and unkempt hedges are not only an eyesore, a horrible hedge can be highly de-motivational if you're trying to polish your garden up. Since they're so massive, and require a lot of care on a regular basis, you may just want to be rid of your hedge completely. In which case, you'll need to read this guide on how to kill your unkempt hedge with an electric hedge trimmer.

Preliminary Assessment: Can I Kill My Hedge?

The reason why this issue normally arises is because the hedge was likely damaged during stormy weather and other acidic weather conditions. Acidic rain can be as damaging to plants as dangerous chemicals are to our skin, hence proper gradual care is required to prevent damage caused by these harsh chemicals. In addition, insects can house themselves on the hedges, causing further vitiation.

There's no need to address the problem in a haphazardly and rash manner- simply choose an effective method and execute it. Herbicidal treatment, weed killer, and other careful spot treatment clean tools can be integrated into a gradual process to nurture healthy growth for your landscape instead, getting rid of overgrown hedges (overgrown hedges are a sign you need to make some changes). You need to allow adequate time for this process- good results require quite a bit of time.

What to Consider

Depending on your hedge, you have various solutions to choose from:

  • If your hedge is on the smaller side, you could skip using an electric hedge trimmer altogether and just perform the task by digging up the roots by hand
  • For dense and mature hedge plants, you'll be dealing with a larger network of roots. These roots are likelier to regrow and will eventually be much more difficult to remove, so chemical root killers/strong weed killer will be needed. Make sure you follow the instructions on the weed killer to ensure effective chemical control and not damaging the earth below. Weed killer is a very strong substance that can cause skin irritation and burns too.

If you're dealing with an entire garden full of annoying weeds and dense patches you should have some weed killer nearby. When using this, take care to target the roots that need removal. Weed killer can spread to other root networks, and damage plants you actually want to keep. The best way to ensure this is to avoid contact of the chemicals with the soil. If you're still worried, you can always call a professional in the field to be rid of your dense patches of hedge.

Cutting and Treating the Hedge

When it comes to killing your hedge, here are the core steps you need to take to ensure it's done properly:

  1. You'll need to cut down your unwanted hedge near the ground. This will help eliminate the hedge from the base, making the overall process both faster and cleaner.
  2. Pick the right herbicide! We recommend looking at the ingredients lists of various options- look for ones that contain any of the following active ingredients: Triclopyr, 2, 4-DP, or Glyphosate.
  3. Immediately following this step, you'll want to spray down the stump of the hedge trees with a good quality herbicide application. Better quality herbicides are designed to cause minimal damage to surrounding areas (slightly more viscous formula to prevent running and leakage to circumambient areas, and underground stems).
  4. Next, apply a thorough coat of water to the surface of the individual trees- this is essential in diluting and transporting the herbicide chemicals all throughout the stump- so the removal of individual trees will be even easier! You'll be inducing brittle roots, which are easier to tackle.
  5. If you are unable to immediately apply the herbicide, don't worry. You can cut the surface of the stump afresh and perform the step again.

Tips for Professional Standard Removal

If you're dealing with a much larger hedge, or hedging surrounding public gardens- you will need a professional. You can try to do it yourself, but we don't recommend it. This is because larger hedges need to be dealt with using advanced equipment and safety measures to prevent accidents. The reason is mainly due to the presence of larger hedge trees, which can collapse and cause fatal accidents if safety measures are not in place. If you're dealing with a public garden, there's a risk of these trees collapsing on a person too. Contact a professional.

If you're just dealing with your own garden, or smaller hedges, use our guide above to ensure a thorough procedure with a good-quality herbicide. This will prevent damage to wanted underground stems.

If you're dealing with a hedges and bushes that are shorter than 15 feet, you can even use something called a foliar spray. This will effectively remove unwanted plants in a smaller area. A systematic herbicide may also be used to eliminate a whole network of a plant, as the chemicals penetrate the entire plant system you wish to remove. 

  • We recommend applying any chemicals and herbicides between the months of August and September (this is also advice backed by the Washington State University Extension) 
  • Make sure any chemical sprays used are properly diluted herbicide with water to help the chemicals be transported along the plant system and penetrate better
  • If you're working in hot weather, we recommend holding off until the weather becomes cooler- then start treatment

Which Chemicals Kill Hedges?

Get your gardening gloves on when doing this work- chemicals for weed killing and hedge plant removal are highly irritant to human skin. There are two core active ingredients which we briefly mentioned above, and it's important to understand each one in a little more depth to achieve the results you want.

2, 4-D

This ingredient is a selective type of herbicide used to remove broad-leaved plants without harming the grass below in the process.

  • Induces abnormal plant growth, as the chemical penetrates the plant, causing cell division at a quicker rate than normal. Pretty much like plant cancer!
  • Can be used on aquatic/swamp areas, crops, and lawns
  • Moderate-low human and mammal toxicity level
  • High toxicity level for marine life (aquatic invertebrates and fish)
  • Can damage wanted plants (broad-leaved) if the chemicals come into contact with them
  • Lowered risk of groundwater contamination due to breaking-down in soil (hedge roots can be targeted without associated risks)


Another selective herbicide option is Triclopyr, which is ideally for hedge stumps, independent hedges, a developed hedge, weeds (broad-leaved) and general mature hedges. It's best for stocky, large hedge care.

  • Moderate to low human/mammal toxicity level
  • Works by controlling plants that are targeted to be removed; mimics their natural plant hormones hence interfering with the overall growth
  • No damage to conifer trees or grass as long as the instructions provided by the chemicals' manufacturer is followed correctly (application and frequency)
  • Ideally and popularly utilised in larger areas such as forests, open pastures, and ditches- unsuitable for areas where there are no crops

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My father, and his father before him, and his father; for the past 3 generations, my family have always been into gardening. The green fingers is a gift passed down to me and I thoroughly enjoy it! I also have worked in the manufacturing department for Bosch and DeWalt so I like to think I know a thing or two about tools and such!
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