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How to use a digging bar to remove a tree or shrub?

  How to remove a tree or shrub

Shop for Digging Bars

Which design is best?

Chisel edge Because this task will involve cutting through tough roots and lifting a heavy root ball from the base of a tree, you’ll need a bar which is sturdy and well-made, with a chisel edge.
Telegraph & Digging Bars Donkee recommends a regular digging bar or, for very tough trees or stumps, a telegraph digger bar.

A tamper head isn’t necessary for this task, so don’t worry about spending extra on a post-hole digging bar for now.

Exploratory Digging The primary consideration when deciding what weight bar you need for your task should be how much momentum you will need to cut through the roots – therefore, it would be wise to do some exploratory digging before making your decision.
The heavier the bar, the greater the downward momentum you will have for cutting roots; so for stronger roots, choose a heavier bar.
Archimedes' Law of the Lever Using the law of the lever, you now know that for the best leverage possible when lifting the stump, you should choose a longer bar.

What else will you need?

A Spade A good quality spade.

Wonkee’s hoof-by-hoof guide: How to remove trees and shrubs

Pruning Branches

Step 1 – Trim branches

If the tree or shrub you are removing is intact (has not already fallen or been cut down), trim the branches to a reasonable size. Unless the trunk is weak or very thick and rigid, leave this intact, as you can use it for leverage later on.

Man digging around base of shrub with spade

Step 2 – Dig trench

Using your spade, dig a trench of about a spade’s width around the base of the plant. The wider the radius between the plant and the edge of the trench, the easier this process will be.

WONKEE DONKEE SAYS: Try turning the spade around and digging with the back against the trunk - this will help with leverage
Use the chisel edge of your digging bar to break through the root system

Step 3 – Break through roots

After your trench is dug, use the chisel edge of your digging bar to break through the roots by lifting it up and driving it down repeatedly.

Remember, the key here is momentum, so lift as high as you can before bringing it down again – this way, gravity does most of the work!

Move the Chisel Edge of the Bar Back and Forth

Step 4 – Break through roots (contd)

Push the bar into the trench, close to the base of the plant, and move it back and forth to loosen stubborn roots.

Using the bar to loosen the stump

Step 5 – Lift stump

At intervals, try lifting the stump; using your bar, with the point down, as a lever. If it doesn’t move when you push down on your bar, repeat steps 3-4 and check again.

The Stump Begins to Move Eventually, the stump will start to move, signalling that it is nearly ready to be removed completely.

Keep levering the stump upwards and cutting through any remaining roots until it comes away fully.

You can now remove and dispose of your unwanted plant!

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