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16 October 2014
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John Cushnie On...

Boot It Out
16 April 2004

Vinca MinorThere comes a time when a shrub becomes too old to rejuvenate.There are also those that have to be disposed of either because they are in the wrong position or you want a change.

Fortunately many shrubs are well behaved and are easy to dig out. Some, however, are determined to retain their grip on earth proving nearly impossible to remove.

HypericumPlants which sucker or spread by stolons are a problem. Hypericum calycinum, (Rose of Sharon) vinca, lamium and Gaultheria mucronata are quick to spread forming a dense mat of growth. They are not deep rooting and the young plants can be scraped off with a spade.

The Stag’s horn shumach, Rhus typhina is more of a problem as the horizontal roots may be as deep as 6-8 inches and will send up strong suckers many yards from the parent plant. Stag's Horn - Rhus

Pampass Grass Pampas grass can be a real headache. Large clumps are difficult to remove and the best advice is to keep them in check by removing the outer growths every year before they can form a massive clump. Where large specimens have to be taken out you may need the help of a mini-digger. Alternatively, cut all the leaves about 12 inches above ground level and dig them out using a spade. Sharpening the blade will help cut through the massive clump of roots. Wear gloves as the edges of the leaves are razor sharp.

New Zealand FlaxThe New Zealand flax, Phormiun tenax is even worse. It is clump forming with tough roots and sword-like, evergreen leaves. As a small plant it can be very effective providing shape and texture to the garden. As it matures the outer leaves die but remain attached to the plant. This gives it a scruffy, untidy appearance. If all efforts at digging up a clump fail then the answer is to cut the foliage back to 6 inches. A chain saw or power clippers may be used to cut the foliage. Light a small fire in the centre of the plant and allow it to burn the crown of the plant down to the roots.

Honey FungusIt is advisable to remove by the root the woody stumps of shrubs and trees .This will reduce the risk of an attack of honey fungus disease which spreads from plant to plant killing as it goes.

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