Tuesday, October 14, 2008 Removing a Giant Ligustrum

For some dark and strange reason, I let an ominous Ligustrum grow in my back bed.  It was there when I moved in 1997.  I figured it was hiding an eyesore on the property behind me and I had bigger tasks at hand creating my basic gardens.  But the day came when it was time to remove it.

I started lopping off limbs, then sawing the bigger ones.  I somehow managed to whack this 30′ shrub to a few nubs to the point I can get my friend TD to come over and take a chainsaw to it.  I’m not a fan of chain saws, but perversely like those who do.  This is not the first Ligustrum I took to the ground.  From experience, I know there is no way I will ever be able to dig this sucker out.   In the past, I found if I cut it to the ground and then coat the exposed wound with glyphosate, it stays at bay.  Now, digging around it to add a new plant in its place is a problem.  This is where flexibility comes in.  You can’t be bent on an exact location…you have to work around some to find an opening between the roots.  Often times, the loppers are useful to cut the roots to widen the hole.

I wish this was the only Ligustrum to deal with.  The property owners behind me put a hedge in just last year.  It is set back enough and covered by my privacy hedge, but I see babies in my future.  The neighbors on my North side have one.  In their defense, it was put in 2 neighbors ago – even before we moved here in 1997. I suppose the invention of the Ligustrum as a privacy fence was a good idea to someone at the time more than once, twice, but a thousand times over.  I even remember recommending one once.  They are quick and cheap.   Now my neighbor and I have to deal with this monster.  Yet, we like the privacy.

My quiry is about maintenance.  It’s their hedge, but I have to deal with it too.  Who should maintain it?  Who decides it needs a maintenance.  Everyone’s vision of maintenance is different. 

We are on good terms with our neighbors and want to stay that way, but we’re not keen on keeping their hedge trimmed.  Our vision of maintenance and theirs don’t coincide.  I have trimmed my side back three times since they did it.  Since we benefit from the privacy, does that mean we should maintain it?  We believe we can cut back our side…we do have to look at it, after all, but should we have to?

Over the years, we continually watched as it grew taller.  These suckers can really get up there.   Last month, I got Patrick over here to help me lower the height.  We rented a ladder to bring it down from 18′ to a managable 12’…geez how much privacy do we really need?

My husband is of the mind that if they take it down, we will loose our privacy – or worse, they will put up a privacy fence.  I worry about this too.  So I had the bright idea 3 years ago to put my own hedgerow infront of the Ligustrum hedge.  Two things will happen:  1)  They will remove the Ligustrum hedge and put up an privacy fence and I will have a pretty hedgerow to look at or 2)  They will leave the Ligustrum hedge and my pretty hedgerow will cover their untidy Ligustrum hedge.  Either way, I’m in good shape.

My second fear is they will ask us to pay for half of its removal.  I would rather keep it and keep it trimmed than to have it removed, especially if I have to share the cost.  Mind you, removing one Ligustrum this week is still very fresh on my mind.  It took me about 6 hours and 3 Ford 150 truckloads to the City of Raleigh Yard Waste Center to rid it.  Our shared hedge has about 36 individual plants.

After 3 years since I put in my hedgerow , it is looking nice.  But it still has 2 to 3 years to go before I can call it a success.  It is made up of Forsythia, Rose of Sharon, Camellias, and Osmanthus.

Whether the Ligustgrum hedge comes or go, I’m covered either way.



  1. Guy Meilleur said

    The great thing about ligustrum is that you can prune it in many ways, coppicing being one, and thinning another. Shearing creates more problems than it solves, hence the gardeners’ admonition against shear madness.

    Any part of the plant that grows in your air space belongs to you. The pruning chore seems a small price to pay for the contribution. Ligustrum need not be untidy looking, if you prune it right. Topping them will not make them healthier or prettier, imo.

  2. gardensgardens said

    I agree Guy, but you have to prune and prune and prune. It’s enless with this shrub. I’m even Ok with a once a year whack, but Ligustrum just gets so out of hand. Having said that, with unlimited space, this is a great privacy shrub.

  3. […] I’ve written about aspects of Too in the past,.  Actually, I’ve kinda ignored Too for a very long time with a hunkin’ Ligusrum in it.  You might find this post interesting. Removing a Giant Ligustrum from Woodland Garden Too […]

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