Getting rid of Arborvitae

Asked May 1, 2017, 2:49 PM EDT

My wife is wanting to get rid of a number of arborvitae in our yard & replace with lilac shrubs. The question is how to get rid of them without harming the soil. Can we spray the shrubs with Roundup or some similar chemical without harming the soil? Also, will a method you give kill the roots for easy removal. She has read that doing so will make it much easier to remove from the ground, and this would be a much cheaper alternative than having them dug up. FYI, most of the arborvitae are around 20 years old. Thank you.

Marion County Oregon

1 Response

Hi:
Actually, if you simply cut off the arborvitae at ground level, they will not re-sprout and there really is no need to dig out the roots. They will simply decompose in the ground. You could plant the lilacs between the root crowns of the removed arborvitae.

One thing to keep in mind in that in western Oregon, Lilacs are quite prone to a disease problem called bacterial canker, which disfigures both foliage and flowers. The link below provides information on the disease. For homeowners, choosing resistant cultivars is very important for success. Please feel free to write directly for more information.

https://pnwhandbooks.org/plantdisease/host-disease/lilac-syringa-spp-bacterial-blight