How to kill a forsythia bush with the roots?

I had a giant forsythia bush (the one with yellow flowers) on my property and it seems to be sick with a disease of some sort. I wanted to get rid of it and plant a fruit tree there, is there a good way to kill the root system without poisoning the ground for other plants?

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Yank it out with a chain and tightening noose strap when soil is moist.


I agree with @noogy Mechanical extraction is your best bet. There are definitely herbicides you can use to kill it and be fine to plant next year, but the roots and stems will still be in your way.

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Gentle yanks, loosening until final pullout. Dont go far so you can remive dirt and lessen work:)

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I can try but this bush is big and so are it’s roots, I will cut it down and try to yank, but I guess I’ll use herbicide to kill the rest, is there any natural products that can kill the roots like purhaps vinegar if that does anything?

What might help you is a hi-lift car jack. Put a plank on the ground to set the jack on. Wrap a length of chain around the base of the tree and have a loop in the chain that you can get the jack under. It may take a while but the jack should do it.

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Could cut at ground level , chop the top up , and stack , camp fire style over the stump. Let dry for a month or so and have a camp fire over the root. Maybe adding a few larger pieces of wood.

Alright, that’s smart, my concern though is it won’t kill the deeper roots. The plant suckers like crazy at distances of 10 ft

I yanked out a few larger forsythia when I was converting a bed along my fence to grow veggies instead. It was a lot of work, but I dug around them in a 2 to 3-foot diameter circle, severing the large roots and yanking it side to side as I went to loosen it up and get at the lower roots. They were big heavy root balls when I got them out and I had to knock most of the soil off to be able to drag them away. I haven’t seen any suckers coming up from what I left of the roots.


My husband would pull it with his truck. He usually uses a cable with loops at the ends , wrap it around the bush/tree and pull one looped end of it through another loop. Then connect free loop to the track and pulls slow and gently with a truck. Usually it comes out with most roots with minimum soil destruction.


Thanks for all the help guys, I guess I’ll cut it down, use a herbicide to kill roots then yank the remaining part up, I just need the roots dead as this bush has disease

If you’re going to use an herbicide I’d suggest applying it before you cut down the top in order to give the plant time to move the herbicide to the roots. Give the plant a few days to do that before cutting it. That way any roots that break off won’t grow via a sucker.

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Alright any recommendations on a relatively safe ingredient I can use as a herbicide? Vinegar?

Vinegar isn’t really a herbicide. It’s highly acidic and that causes it to act as a dessicant. Spray it on green leaves and it pulls the moisture out of them, they dry out and turn brown. It likely does little if anything to the roots.

Glyphosate will probably kill it but also will any grass you may not want to kill in the vicinity. A more broad leaf only herbicide may be more appropriate. Triclopyr is good for tougher stuff.

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You asked how to kill a forsythia. It is dead easy. As others said, just pull it up. Don’t bother with herbicides or vinegar or other chemicals. Just pull it up. I used a cable hoist attached to a large tree to pull up a huge forsythia a year ago. 2 or 3 small sprouts showed up last year. I cut them down with my mower and now the entire bush is gone. Had I wanted a tree in the spot, I could have planted it in the hole left when the forsythia was pulled. It left a hole about 2 feet diameter and at least 16 inches deep. I filled it in with topsoil so I could mow over the area.

The forsythia I pulled did not have problems, it was just located somewhere that conflicted with foundation plantings. I gathered several rooted sprouts and put them into 5 gallon containers. Every one of them lived.

If I had to pull a forsythia and there was no convenient tree nearby, I would get 3 landscaping timbers and a cable hoist. Set the timbers up as a tripod over the bush using a small chain to hold them in place and provide a place to set the cable hoist hook. Then just work the cable hoist and it should pull the bush with very little difficulty. Or maybe I would just hook it to my truck with a good rope. Either way, it would come out.