How to Remove Privet
These recommendations are primarily for homeowners and communities that would like to start working in their neighborhood greenspace. For each species we recommend herbicide-free control methods, but have added an herbicide option for some species for those who are comfortable using them. These methods were selected while keeping in mind limiting soil disturbance, reducing herbicide use, and avoiding harm to other species that may be present whether they be other plants/animals. Manual removal is possible for all of them if you have the time. If the infestation is overwhelmingly severe or these tips aren’t proving effective, we suggest you consider qualified professional services.
Chinese Privet, Glossy Privet, and Japanese Privet
Ligustrum sinense – Georgia EPPC Category 1 (serious problem in Georgia)
Ligustrum lucidum – Georgia EPPC Category 3 (minor problem in Georgia)
Ligustrum japonicum – Georgia EPPC Category 2 (moderate problem in Georgia)
Removal will require follow-up control to successfully kill the same individual plant if herbicide is not used.
Privet tends to have shallow roots, making uprooting an easy method of control. Some woody invasive trees and shrubs have deeper tap roots that make hand pulling difficult. If the trunk has a diameter of less than 1” hand pulling could be a viable option.
Hand-pulling a Chinese privet seedling.
Shake off all the dirt from the roots after uprooting to prevent regrowth.
If the diameter is between 1-3”, try using an Uprooter (aka Pullerbear). These tools will save your back and are very satisfying and are a great choice for those who are trying to avoid using any herbicides.
Tighten jaws around stem of sapling.
Roots emerging from pulling down on lever.
Be sure to remove the dirt surrounding roots after uprooting.
Cut-and-Leave and Cut-and-Treat
If the tree or shrub cannot be uprooted, the best removal method is cut-and-treat. We suggest using a high concentrate (between 20-50%), glyphosate based solution and add in an indicator dye to keep track of what has been treated. Use a hand saw to cut down the tree or shrub. If using herbicide, cut the stump 0.5-1” above the ground.
If you prefer not to use an herbicide (cut-and-leave), assume that it will regrow and cut the stem to around shin height to give room for future cuts. When it does regrow, take pruners or a hand saw and remove all new growth as soon as you see it. This will eventually starve the roots, killing the plant.
Make weight cut at waist height first.
Then cut stem as close to the ground as possible.
The stump should be treated with the herbicide within 5 min after the cut. We use 1 liter hand sprayers to apply the herbicide, but it can also be “painted on.” Be sure not to get the herbicide anywhere but on the stump you are treating. If the stump is not treated, or is not cut low enough, it will regrow.
Apply herbicide directly to stem within 5-10 minutes of cutting
The debris can be piled neatly on site to dry and break down naturally. This way temporary habitat will be created and nutrients will be recycled. Of course, debris can be taken off site, if preferred.
“Category” refers to description of invasiveness based on information from the Georgia and North Carolina Exotic Pest Plant Council (EPPC) and do not necessarily reflect the severity of invasions in Atlanta specifically. View our Resource “Atlanta’s Top Invasive Plants (A to Z) Expanded List” for more information.
A great opportunity to learn is volunteering with us at a Forest Restoration project. Please view our Calendar of upcoming service projects or consider enrolling in our annual Forest Stewardship training program. For other species removal, also read: How to Remove Our Top 10 Invasive Plants.
If you have any questions about this guide please email firstname.lastname@example.org.