What is the easiest and least painful way to remove barberry bushes? We have...

Asked June 23, 2015, 12:59 PM EDT

What is the easiest and least painful way to remove barberry bushes? We have three that we would like to remove and replace with something different. Considering wrapping a tow strap around each and connecting the tow strap to a vehicle to pull them out one by one. Please recommend some shrubs or foundation plantings with which to replace the barberries? The area is located on the east side of our house, between the house and driveway. The width is about 6 feet, length about 15-20 feet. I believe we have clay soil, we live in South White Bear Lake. Looking for something without thorns that will give some pretty blooms and provides some winter interest. Wondering about Bridal Wreath Spirea? Not sure that is feasible with east exposure. Please send your suggestions. Thank you!

Ramsey County Minnesota late shrub planting

1 Response

I don't recommend trying to pull these bushes out with your car - I did that once and ruined my transmission. If you have a winch it might work, but you still have to get in there and secure a chain around the plant. Barberries are no fun to work around, but if you can clear enough of the branches away to get to the roots use a weed-wrench or simply dig them out. Make sure the soil is good and damp before attempting to dig them out.

Here is some information about removing barberries - the invasive ones that large crews of folks attack:
http://www.gardenguides.com/82619-remove-barberry-plants.html
http://www.ct.gov/caes/lib/caes/documents/publications/special_bulletins/special_bulletin_feb_2013_w...

Bridal Wreath spirea may do well in this location if it gets enough morning sun. There is no winter interest with these plants, however.

Other choices are Hydrangeas - lots of new varieties and if you leave the flowerheads on, there is nice winter interest.

Rhododendrons and Azaleas will appreciate the shade in the afternoons. Rhododendrons keep their leave throughout the winter - you can almost tell what the temperature is by how tightly they curl up.

Viburnums are wonderful bushes and come in many varieties. They produce good flowers and fruit that is attractive to birds.
Winterberry Hollys have great winter interest:
http://blog-yard-garden-news.extension.umn.edu/2013/12/minnesota-native-holly.html

Finally, look over this publication from the University - it offers lots of suggestions for difficult sites:
http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/yard-garden/landscaping/best-plants-for-tough-sites/