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In the 1980s, the thuja was a popular tree for privacy hedges. In the meantime, the tree of life has gone out of fashion, since the annual pruning is associated with a great deal of effort and the wood often gets brown needles and shoots. The cost of removal by a specialist company should not be underestimated. With a few helpers by your side and the right tools, you can remove the thuja hedge yourself.

Remove thuja hedge

Have you had your fill of Thuja? If you want to remove your thuja hedge and want to do it yourself, you have to consider several things.


It is important that you observe the regulations of the Federal Nature Conservation Act. You must not remove the arborvitae or any other woody plant during the breeding bird season, as this could destroy nesting sites. The law stipulates that trees and shrubs must be spared between March 1st and September 31st. Between October 1st and February 28th you can safely remove your thuja. Since the hedge is to be completely dug up, the weather plays only a minor role. To make your work easier, you should consider the following aspects:

  • ideal soil conditions prevail after a rain shower
  • Water loosens soil
  • work on frost-free days so that the soil is not too hard
Tree of Life, Thuja

Observe neighborhood law

If the hedge is on your property, it is your property. If a joint enclosure was agreed in the past so that the hedge is on your and your neighbor's property, he has a say in removing the thuja. Also, find out if you have one obligation to enclose are affected. The federal states regulate this obligation differently. While there are common enclosures in some regions, other federal states regulate the question of visual delimitation with the so-called legal enclosure. This states that all immediate neighbors must visually delimit their right-hand property line.

notice: If you are affected by the fencing obligation, you must replace the removed hedge in accordance with the fencing methods customary in the area.


You will need equipment to cut off the top parts of the plant and other tools for removing the roots. Chop up thin trunks with hedge trimmers or a pruning saw. Older hedges can develop very thick stems that should be cut off with a chainsaw. A tarpaulin is recommended for the excavation so that it can be better removed later. Other tools are beneficial for root removal:

  • spade and digging fork
  • sharp handsaw
  • small winch

Remove thuja hedge yourself

Thuja plants develop a shallow root system that spreads just below the soil surface. Lateral expansion can be large in older hedges. The roots of several specimens intertwine with each other. This makes it almost impossible to remove individual plants.

cut hedge

Cut the hedge from the outside in and from the top to the bottom with pruning shears or hedge shears. The chainsaw is only used for trunks with a larger diameter. The main trunk is sawn off just above the ground. Leave part of the trunk so that you can later better remove the root system from the ground.

remove roots

Make a large circle around the base of the stem and dig up the soil until you hit the root system. If the soil is too hard, loosen it with water. Expose the entire rootstock. If there are roots in the way during the excavation work, you can cut through them with the chainsaw. Use the digging fork to loosen the rootstock. If this is not too big, you can use the digging fork to get it out of the ground.

tip: If you have a winch available, you can save yourself the tedious excavation. Attach the rope to the roots and trunk and let the winch do the work for you.

fill holes

Fill the resulting holes in the ground with fresh plant substrate. The needles of the thujas can cause the pH of the soil to drop into the acidic range. Certain plants like azaleas or rhododendrons do well with the location. Many plants grow less well here because the conditions are no longer optimal. These plants have proven to be problem-free on such locations:

  • Beach silverwort (Lobularia maritima)
  • Patagonian verbena (Verbena bonariensis)
  • Red Spurflower (Centranthus ruber)
  • Thrifts (Armeria maritima or Armeria alpina)

tip: If you plan to replant the site, get a pH meter. This will help you determine if you need to condition the soil or not.

Allow rootstock to rot

If you have not planned any planting for the location, the thuja rootstock can remain in the ground and rot. To do this, drill holes in the roots and fill them with compost. The microorganisms accelerate the decomposition, which otherwise takes a long time. Cover the open space with fresh topsoil. If, after some time, the ground subsides, this indicates the ongoing process of rotting. If necessary, top up with some soil and sow grass seed. Deep-rooted plants hardly find any space to develop roots.

notice: Did you know that the rootstock can sprout again? Therefore, saw the root well or score it in several places so that soil organisms can penetrate.

dispose of hedge

Small cuttings from low hedges can be chopped up and disposed of on the compost. Branches and trunks provide good firewood. Allow the material to dry for at least a year, as the wood is too wet in the first year and leads to heavy smoke formation. If larger quantities of clippings accumulate, we recommend disposing of them at a collection point. They usually calculate the costs incurred per cubic meter. In many regions, the local fire brigades collect prunings free of charge to burn the remains in an Easter or midsummer bonfire. You can also put the material to good use in the garden and save on disposal costs in this way:

  • thicker trunks provide good material for a deadwood wall
  • needled branches offer winter protection for perennials
  • crushed material protects soil on slopes from erosion
  • Rootstocks are decorative deadwood habitats for lizards and insects

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