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/large, we suggest you look into professional control.

A great opportunity to learn is volunteering with us at a Forest Restoration project. Please view our Calendar of upcoming service projects. Also read: How to Remove Our Top 10 Invasive Plants.

Removal Difficulty: Medium

Removal for this species is rated as medium difficulty because it will require follow-up control to successfully kill the same individual plant if an herbicide is not used.


Privet foliage


Privet foliage



For certain woody invasive plants that have shallow roots, uprooting is an easy method of control. Some woody invasive trees and shrubs have deeper taproots that make hand pulling difficult. If the trunk has a diameter of less than 1” hand pulling could be a viable option.


Pulling out privet from the ground

Hand-pulling a Chinese privet seedling


Privet hand-pulled from the ground

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, or Weed Wrench). 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. 

Uprooting privet using a tool

Tighten jaws around stem of sapling


Uprooting privet using a tool

Roots emerging from pulling down on lever


Root system of privet

Be sure to remove the dirt surrounding roots after uprooting



If the tree or shrub cannot be uprooted, the best removal method is cut-and-treat. We suggest using a high concentrate (between 18-50%), 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. Get the stump as close to the ground as possible. Ideally less than 1” off the ground. If the tree or shrub has a larger diameter, getting closer to the ground will be more difficult and not as necessary as for a smaller diameter tree. If you prefer not to use an herbicide (cut-and-leave), know that the stump will regrow. When it does, 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.


Removing privet by cutting

Make weight cut at waist height first


Cutting privet at the base

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.


Spraying privet at the base of the trunk

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.


If you have any questions about this guide please email