How I calculated that I won’t be removing the privet

In the same way as I worked out how long it would take me to remove the lawn and its brick edging, I decided to try my hands at one of the twenty metres of privet that we need to remove. The neighbours had already begun, by clearing their own ten metres entirely: but they had use of a JCB, which the existing terrace at the back of our garden is unlikely to suit. One way or another, by me or by someone else, this had to be a manual job. How hard could it be?

Here’s the corner I decided to trial techniques on:


Although I’d warned the neighbours beforehand, I still wanted to test a piece that was relatively inconspicuous (and there are shrubs behind this corner on their side.) Within only half an hour, I’d already cleared around a metre of privet tops:


I then set to work on the roots. Three hours later? Even despite having to stop occasionally to let the rain pour down, the results were disappointing:


I had got more and more wiggle room out of the rootballs, but hadn’t removed a single one (apart from a stray cotoneaster, I think.) Not only that, but I’d seen the tap-roots start to sneakily disappear under the patio of the house behind:


Maybe that bodes well generally, because it means they’re removable for fencing by chopping off at the point they bend underneath those stones: but, ultimately, that work isn’t going to be done by me. Even though I sharpened my tools beforehand, I’m just not equipped for deep-root work. Axes get blunted by soil; spades shave off thin slivers of root-bark, before hitting a stone here or there.

On the plus side, I now know for sure that this job is going to need landscapers, or at the very least odd-job men. And it won’t be cheap. But at least I now know what the job is going to involve: and respect them, for the amount that their labour and expertise is clearly worth.



  1. Julieanne · May 28, 2016

    Frustrating that they are so well entrenched. But at least you know and yes, it’s good to respect those who can do this work – bloody hard work!


  2. Pingback: Cleaning the awful decking: estimating the time required | The next square metre
  3. Pingback: Privet gone; fencing up | The next square metre

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