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How to Remove Overgrown Shrubs from the Front of Your House

Do you want to increase your home’s curb appeal and plant new bushes and trees? Check out these tips to remove overgrown shrubs so you can start with a blank slate when designing your new landscape.

After living in our home for 14 years it was time to update our foundation shrubs and trees.

The plants had become overgrown.

We removed a few bushes here and there over the past few years.

But it was finally time to just rip them all out and start over!

First, we started with planning our new landscape design with plants that we loved.

However, we needed to pick the right varieties that wouldn’t grow too big and cover our windows again.

We also needed to figure out how to choose the right shrubs and trees for the front of our house.

And once we decided on a plan and researched the plants we wanted to install it was time to remove all those overgrown shrubs and trees from our yard.

Front Landscape Before Removing Overgrown Shrubs

two dogs in grass of front yard house beyond

Here is a photo of the front of our house from about four years ago.

We still had all the original shrubs that were planted by the builder when we moved in.

Plus there are two hydrangea plants that I added the year before this picture was taken.

As you can see the shrubs on the right completely covered the lower windows.

By the year after, the shrubs on the left had grown to the bottom of the windows despite bi-yearly trimming.

How to Take Down Tall Shrubs

man holding shovel with shrub root at his feet in front of house

We decided it was time to take down those tall evergreen shrubs that were blocking the windows several years ago.

Chris was able to cut them both down with a chainsaw and then dig out the roots.

It was pretty hard to get the entire root out of there but he did it. Whoo-hoo!

shrubs cut down laying in grass in front of house

Fast forward to the following year, we weren’t able to keep the rest of the holly bushes low enough.

You know how when shrubs get so big but when you cut them you can’t trim them too short or you just hit the bare branches inside the shrub?

Yup, that’s where we were with all these plants.

So…Chris grabbed the chainsaw again and got to work cutting the holly plants down too.

That was the easy part!

How to Pull Out Stubborn Plant Roots

foot on shovel digging around tree root in ground

Now comes the hard part of removing well-established plants.

S2M Tip: Dig far enough out from the base of the shrub to get to all of the root buried under the ground.

Just like the year before Chris took his shovel and started digging out the root of the overgrown shrub.

And he dug…and he dug!

But these holly plants were not only huge above ground, their root system under the ground was wide and firmly established in the clay.

hand holding axe above shrub root in ground

He took out his axe and chopped some of the roots that were above ground to try and loosen the stump.

Hours later Chris got some of the root systems out of one of the three holly bushes he had cut down.

He gave up for the day and I can’t say that I blame him.

Landscape Work Takes a Break

view of home after three holly bushes cut down showing roots

We got back out there because there were other things going on…like lots of rain that spring.

And with all the rain we got we had some leaking in our basement.

Our basement is actually considered more of a crawl space since it’s got a small door on the outside of our home.

You have to crouch down and duck your head to get into our basement.

But once you’re in you’re able to stand up straight in more than half of the basement where the grade of our yard goes down on one side of the house.

When to Call in the Professionals

view of ground sinking next to foundation of home

We had a few professionals come out over the summer to evaluate the amount of water we were taking into the basement.

It was determined that water was seeping in through the foundation. ugh!

The ground right near the foundation had sunk over the years and was no longer graded away from the house.

You can see how much lower the ground is in this photo and the dirt on the house where the land used to be.

We knew this had to be fixed.

At the same time, our beloved pear trees were dying in our front yard.

We figured we could get everything done at the same time.

But we didn’t have the time to get all this work done by ourselves so we decided to hire it out.

How to Remove Well-Established Shrubs

bobcat machine at end of driveway

Since we needed to take down the Bradford pear trees our contractor brought a small excavator to do the hard work for him.

I was away at a blogging conference so Chris took all these photos for me.

It would have been fun to see this in person but I’m grateful he helped me by taking pictures of every step.

He actually took way more photos than I would have. lol

small excavator taking down tree in front yard

Within minutes of arriving, they had cut down the pear tree and pulled up the stump and roots.

Chris said it was crazy fast!

It would have taken us hours to cut down that tree and then trim up the branches small enough to haul away.

How to Get Rid of Overgrown Shrubs

irrigation tubing pulled out of flower bed laying on driveway

S2M Tip: Move irrigation system hoses before digging to remove shrubs.

small excavator removing large bushes

After the trees were taken down in the yard, the bobcat made easy work of removing the rest of the shrubs in the foundation planting beds.

The machine also took care of those stubborn stumps from the bushes Chris had cut down months before.

How to Cut Down Trees Near House

before taking down crepe myrtle tree in front of house

As you can see these crepe myrtle trees were blocking the windows on this side of the porch.

Those trees were so pretty when in bloom from late spring through fall.

But during the winter months when you trim a crepe myrtle, it’s kinda funny looking.

Honestly, the tree was just too big to be so close to our house so we had it removed along with everything else.

small excavator on lawn removing bushes and shrubs

The excavator not only pulls up the stubborn overgrown bushes but it breaks up the shrubs and trees after they’re out of the ground.

This makes it easier to fit more debris in a truck for disposal.

Or to make the pieces more manageable to feed through a wood chipper.

planting bed in front of house after shrubs and tree taken out

You can see here that we raked the mulch over so that we could reuse the wood chips later.

Once all the shrubs, bushes, and trees were taken down and the root systems pulled out the contractor worked on re-grading the ground near the foundation.

Preparing Ground for New Landscape

shovel dumping crush and run drainage gravel near foundation of home

To get the ground level higher against the foundation and prevent water from seeping down into the basement the contractor laid down a layer of “crush and run gravel”.

Crusher Run is a combination of tiny gravel and limestone.

The limestone sticks together when it gets wet so makes a great base for driveways and sidewalks.

But it also is a great product to use that will limit the amount of water that will seep in through the foundation of our house.

Using a compactor helps to form a good base layer for our planting beds.

after ground releveled with proper materials near foundation

The crush and run also helped to regrade the area next to the foundation.

The grade of the ground was now going down away from the house rather than toward the foundation.

Once everything was cleared out and removed it was late in the fall.

We didn’t want to rush to plant new shrubs before winter so we waited until spring.

Stay tuned…I’ll be sharing the new shrubs and trees that we installed soon!

If you have any questions or suggestions, contact me or leave a comment!

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Carolyn Patrinicola

Thursday 13th of April 2023

All looks wonderful & your advise is so well explained! Wish we had it yrs ago when so needed & errors made that remain! Now we spend thousands removing giant dead oaks!


Monday 17th of April 2023

Didn't she do a great job?