how to kill unwanted shrub and vine roots

gillonrootsAugust 24, 2007

We have a home in England and my husband has been composting for years, making the soil very fertile.....but we're now trying to get rid of old rambling vine and shrub roots that are down deep. We're gone from this home most of the year and when we return it is a jungle. We've got to find a way to kill this old roots, hopefully organically.

Can someone help us with this?

Notes: lots of rain, not much sun in England


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Cover the soil with something that will keep the plant from being able to reach the sun and after a while the roots will run out of energy to produce growth and die. Many layers of newspaper covered with something to hide them and hold them in place works, in your case many are needed to keep the vine from poking through. A really good, heavy, tightly woven landscape fabric would also work. The light weight stuff many use, the fabric you can see through, simply is not very effective unless 6 to 8 inches of mulch is put on top of it and then you don't need the fabric. A couple layers of burlap might work as well, provided the fabric is the jute and not the plastic used most often today.
Plastic sheets may be suggested but plastic does not allow the soil to breath and the soil then becomes anaerobic and disease pathogens can grow there.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2007 at 7:16AM
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I don't know if this would work for vines and shrubs but it can work for trees.

You need a live top above ground for this to work, you can't first cut the top of the plant off and then do it.

Basically you gurdle the tree, cut off the outer bark from a foot wide swath all the way around the tree. The top of the tree will stay alive for the season drawing moisture up through the core from the roots but the energy the leaves produce can't get back down to feed the roods since the outer layer has been cut away. Eventually the roots die and you cut down the tree.

As I said, this might be trickier with invasive strubs and vines since they so often already have many different avenues between the root system and the above ground system.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2007 at 10:43AM
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Girdling trees has been used in the past, but it is faster and less hazardous to just cut a tree down. Most trees will not sucker and the roots will simply die, eventually. Vines are a different story.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2007 at 6:58AM
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Cut back the unwanted growth to about an inch above the ground and as you cut, using an eye dropper, place a few drops of Clorox on each freshly cut stump. Clorox is chlorine and generally considered organic. Opinions may vary but you are using such a minimal amount that I do not not find it a cause for concern.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2007 at 1:36PM
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Chlorine is an organic compound and is used as a plant nutrient by many plants, whether it is essential is not known yet. But it is not a good "weed" killer and is not for that purpose an acceptable organic product. Proper and acceptable use is as a disinfectant of equipment.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2007 at 7:45AM
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I knew you would jump into my suggestion of using Clorox and discount it. I was waiting for your objections. Strongly suggest that no one use Cloxox as a plant nutrient. Used full strength, Clorox kills. It is a method I have used over many years and should work in this situation which involves shrubs and vines.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2007 at 9:07AM
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I've read about boring a hole in a stump and pouring boiling water into will deteriorate the stump. I've been getting rid of weeds by just pouring boiling water on them. If the root is deeper, (I have some weeds that are vines) I dig deeper and pour the boiling water on them.

It would seem to me if you dig around the roots the best you can and pour 2 good big pots of boiling water on them, that would kill most if not all the plant. Then dig that part up and do it again on other parts of the roots that show up until all dead. (just a suggestion. Good luck!)

    Bookmark   June 24, 2011 at 1:54PM
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