Best Way to Remove a Bush

When we moved into the house we live in now, my wife and I were overwhelmed by the number of overgrown bushes in the front of the house. They blocked the front windows, crept out into the walk way, and made the house look old and forgotten. We decided early on that we had to remove the bushes! What’s the best way to remove a bush?

Well, making that decision is the easy part – how were we going to get rid of them was the challenge. I’m pretty handy around the house, but these big bushes had been growing here for almost 30 years – they were going to be a challenge. Based on my experience, I will outline below the best way to remove bushes and shrubs from around your property.

Best Way to Remove a Bush – Preparation

I began the process of removing the bushes by cutting them back so I could get to the main trunk of each. You’ll need a large chain to wrap around the trunk – drag the other end straight out and attach to your truck or tractor.

Sometimes, if the bush is not too big, you can pull it straight out of the ground with a vehicle and chain. Other times, you’ll need another solution.

Full disclosure – my truck is 2-wheel drive. Maybe had it been 4-wheel drive this would have gone better. So, no. The setup I had was not enough to pull the bushes from the front of my house.

A-Frame Provides Leverage to Pull Bushes

I asked my dad, who had grown up on a potato farm in the 1960s and 70s, what he thought the best way to remove bushes was. His solution was to build an A-frame out of 4×4 lumber and use it for mechanical advantage. Dang – why didn’t I think of that, I mean, I’m an engineer! This simple apparatus saved us tons of time and energy and enabled me to remove large bushes from my front yard.

Best Way to Remove a Bush – With a Truck

Sketch of how the A-Frame is used to pull a bush out of the ground with a truck
Sketch of how the A-frame is used.

Without getting too technical – the above is a sketch of how this apparatus works. Why is this better than pulling the stump without the A-frame you ask? That’s easy – when you’re pulling without the A-frame, you’re really only knocking the stump over – rotating it toward the ground and at best breaking the roots on the opposite side

By using the A-frame, you’re pulling the stump up and out of the ground!

In the diagram below you can see there are two elements of force acting on the stump. One in the X and one in the Y direction.


Obviously, there are limits to how well this works. The first is the size of the bush or stump. You’re not going to be able to pull a large tree out of the ground – well maybe if you have a huge truck or a tractor. But then you take the risk of breaking the A-frame. Second is the chain you’re using. A larger chain is preferred for pulling bushes and shrubs – small chains may break. And third is the vehicle you’re pulling it with. Your truck may generate 300-foot pounds of torque, but that number is reduced by the angles the chain makes with the truck and the A-Frame. If you’re lucky, the stump may get pulled with 50% of the torque produced by your truck.

Even with these limitations, this works much better than trying to pull stumps or bushes without the A-frame.

The A-Frame

Below is a picture of the A-frame we built. We strengthened the main 4X4s with cross members. We attached the cross members with lag bolts for strength andeven went a little further and strengthened the top of the A-frame with plywood on the outside. The top section will receive lots of stress from the force of the chain pushing down on it.

Picture of the A-Frame used to remove bushes in the back of a truck

Below is a picture of the bushes and shrubs that were removed.

Picture of the bushes in front of the house before they were pulled
Removing Bushes from Front of House
Picture of the front of the house after bushes were removed
Removing Bushes from Front of House 2

I wish I would have taken some action shots – or at least more before an after pictures. The pictures here really don’t do this justice. Using this saved me so much time and physical labor.

Overall, I think we spent $20 because we had the 4X4s laying around. We had to buy lag bots and the chain. If you have to buy everything, I’m willing to bet this will come in under $100 – way less than paying someone to do it for you!

Have you used something like this before? Or do you plan on building one? Let us know if you have ideas to make it better!

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