Juniper and Large Stump Removal

Stumps can be hard to remove. Real hard. For the motivated, hours and hours of back breaking shoveling, swinging a pick axe, ruining chain saw blades and cursing so loud so as to negate any relationship with one's neighbor is usually involved. For the unmotivated, tons of beer, chains, and a truck and or construction/ farm equipment is involved. And God help you if you're in the way. And for the rich, this can mean hundreds of dollars in backhoe rentals and fuel. That's IF your bush is not next to the house.  

This Instructable centers around removing the root ball of a Juniper bush; this method will work on any shrub with a base diameter of up to 6 inches.
Tools Needed:
• Cinder blocks, or 2x4's or other lumber - the wider the better.
• Sharp spade
• High Lift Jack  - you can use a normal jack but the high lift will make this much easier and quicker (due to the travel - normal jacks extend about a foot, a high life extends ~30 inches).You can usually find these cheap in pawn shops, Harbor Freight, eBay or Craigslist.
• 10 feet or longer Heavy Gauge high tensile chain with slip hooks at both ends (Home Depot, Northern Tool, etc.)
* A thick, strong beam, at least 2 feet longer than your stump hole is wide. This should be at least a pressure treated 4x4x8; ideally 6x6 or thicker and treated. You are fixin' to exact about 5-10,000 feet-pounds of force, so go big here. I used a cheap, pressure treated, creasoted fence post that was 6 inches in diameter and have ripped out 12 big bush roots to date with no cracking at all. 
• Eye protection, Gloves, sunblock, water, Ipod. 

 It should be said there should be a law against anyone who plants one of these and doesn't keep it trimmed. Junipers can grow into evil, nasty bushes that delight in tripping children running by and house other evil minions of Satan.
It should be fairly obvious the easiest way to remove Juniper and other large bushes is to first cut the exposed above ground mass. For Junipers, that actively scratch and claw to protect themselves, enlisted a brave friend or use a large stationary object to push the branches back to expose the base - then choose your weapon and start cutting. You want to cut as much as you can to allow you to dig around the root ball without tripping. You can see from photo 1 the bush has been chain - sawed close to the ground, then dug out around the root to expose as much as possible. The key here is not to work too much (that is always the key - smarter not harder). Dig just enough to give yourself something to wrap your chain around 3 times securely. 
Next place your lumber or blocks next to the hole completely on level ground, and put your beam over it. It helps to put one end of the beam closer to a wall if you can. Remember, if you do this, put some cardboard or plywood behind this at least a high as your jack or you'll be repairing and painting. 
Next get your jack and put it on your blocks and securely under one end of your beam. This is vital - do not wait to do this.
Then, take your chain and find the middle point. Place/drop the middle point right by your hole, and take one of your halves of chain and wrap it around your beam - 3 times is optimal. Slip hook it over your chain that is hanging vertical over your root. NEVER slip hook though a hole in the chain link - this is recipe for disaster (that can require hours of pounding the hook out - uber bad) - always slip it over the entire chain link. The idea here is to have 0 slack from the root to beam in the chain. Pull as tight as you can. 
Next, obviously is to wrap the other half around the root ball. Try to get 3 wraps around, and get as low as you can. Also try to slip hook up high so if you need to re - wrap for more tension due to root snapping you don't have to dig in the dirt trying to find your hook. When you wrap it around the root base, its vital that it be super tight. after each wrap, put your feet on the other side of your hole for leverage and grab your chain and pull as hard as you can. Flex those muscles. Do this after each revolution of wrap around the base, then hook your slip hook as high up as you can. 
Next, start jacking. remember if you have a structure in front of you, try to put your blocks and beam right in front of it for extra support. Jack away and like magic it will yank the stump free - slowly exposing the big roots. You want to cut the big roots with your shovel as far away as you can from the root, but remember to reverse your jack and take the tension off the chain before you do so. Smaller bushes will just come out, but the bigger ones will need to have roots cut, and the chain re - adjusted and jack re - lowered. 



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    7 Discussions


    9 months ago on Introduction

    My junipers are on a slope in front of my house. To use your method, do you have any suggestions for dealing with the incline/decline of the slope?

    I REALLY want to try this. Also, I have an RV jack I mistakenly ordered, would this jack be more advantageous or more disadvantageous?

    Thank you!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Nice! Gotta love any solution that involves one of my favorite tools - the high-lift jack.

    1 reply

    3 years ago on Introduction

    I have thought of many creative ways to get things done but danggit, this is by far one of the best IgrewUpinTheCountryIdrinkBeerAndiknowWhat2Do instructables I've ever seen! :) Thanks!

    bobby sissom

    7 years ago on Introduction

    and to think i been planning to make a mini backhoe for just such a task,i do believe i was overthinking the problem,but durn it all i still need the backhoe for ditches and such lol
    thanx for simplifying my current problem tho

    1 reply
    jkalterbobby sissom

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks Mr Sissom!
    Sometimes a backhoe is necessary, thank God they make 'em small enough to fit in tight spaces these days!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks Phidauex! Now if only I could figure out to rotate pics... that second to last one was upright, I swear. And does one need to go pro to get them spread out over a few pages with cool interactive photos?