Remove Bushes and Stumps the Easy Way With a Farm Jack (AKA Hi-Lift Jack)





Introduction: Remove Bushes and Stumps the Easy Way With a Farm Jack (AKA Hi-Lift Jack)

We recently bought a 100 year old house, and the previous owners loved unruly bushes and trees. We had quite a few that were touching the roof of the house or spilling over onto the neighbors driveway, so we decided to get rid of the bushes and trees we didn't want.

If you have ever dug up even a modest sized bush you know how back breaking it can be, and how slow it is to try to remove them. Even if you have a truck and chain, it's not a great idea to just start by pulling it out with your truck before digging up the roots, and it isn't a sure bet your truck will be able to do it (if you have the time search youtube for "truck pulls tree fail" and you'll see what I mean). The amount of force you need to pull the tree out sideways instead of up out of the ground can tax even the beefiest of trucks.

To fix this problem, I decided to make a simple "tripod" mount for my Farm Jack (also called a Hi-Lift Jack). This allowed me to pull the bushes and stumps UP instead of SIDEWAYS, and once I loosened them up, I could yank them out of the ground (even with my old 2 wheel drive pickup).

There is a commercial product available that uses some metal legs, it looks very nice, but they also want around $150 for it. I didn't pay that much for my Farm Jack, so I couldn't justify spending that much on the metal legs. With a cheap 2x4 and a few odds and ends from the hardware store, I was able to make my own tripod system that worked fantastic!

Step 1: Making the Tripod Legs

Materials Needed:

  • 1 Farm Jack (also known as Hi-Lift Jack)
  • 8' long 2x4
  • 9" long 1/2" bolt
  • 4 large washers to fit bolt
  • 1 wingnut to fit bolt

This was very simple to make. I simply cut my 8 foot 2x4 in half. Then towards the top of the 2x4s, I drilled a hole with a 3/4" spade bit (just has to be larger than the 1/2" bolt so the boards can move around). To assemble, just slip a washer onto the bolt, then thread through the first 2x4, then another washer, then through the top hole on your farm jack, then a washer, then thread through the other 2x4, then the final washer, and then the wingnut to hold it all together.

I bought my jack from Harbor Freight for around $50. Some tools from Harbor Freight are iffy, but this jack is pretty rock solid, and I have no complaints at all. You can get it even cheaper if you wait for one of their regular coupons or parking lot sales, but I've also seen similar deals online for these types of jacks, and I'm sure they are all great.

We're now ready to attach it to the bush/stump and get removing!

Step 2: Setting It Up and Using It

To prepare the bush or stump, all you have to do is to trim it down low enough that you can fit the tripod over it (but not too low that you can't wrap a chain around it). The idea is that you wrap your chain around the base (as low as you can) of the stump or bush, and then attach it to the arm on the Farm Jack. I used a little metal hook I bought at the hardware store to attach the chain to a hole in the arm of the jack, but again, this may vary depending on how your jack is constructed.

Once it's all attached, I start raising the jack arm up with the lever. There were a few times that the first time lifting the stump would only pull it up half way, and I would have to release the jack, and then reattach the chains lower (often it would pull part of the roots out of the ground, and I could loop the chain under the exposed roots system), then I would reattach the jack and lift it up again, and it would pull it the rest of the way out. But often times it will pull it right out of the ground the first time like it did with the video on the first step.

Once it's pulled up and "loosened", you can attach the chain to a truck or vehicle to pull it the rest of the way out. You could do this by hand, but it's usually pretty heavy as the roots have all of the dirt attached and it can be pretty unwieldy. As it was mentioned earlier, it is best to pull it UP first with the jack, and then you can pull it SIDEWAYS with your vehicle.

Step 3: All Done

Here you can see the bush in that corner step is gone and I'm starting to work on the stump of a lilac tree I cut down using the same method. We removed 8 bushes and tree stumps that day all about the size of the one in the video (including that big one in the background against the fence in the picture), and every one worked great! This is a great method of removing small and medium sized bushes and tree stumps that will save your back. We have a bunch more in the backyard that we will tackle in the spring, and we have had neighbors ask if they could borrow the jack once they saw how easy it was.



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84 Discussions

Stump Removal is the good topic for discussion because all peoples are live because of tree, So tree is most important for human being for more details regarding the tree surgery log on to

Oh yes, People also want to borrow my antique Handy-Man, if I trust them, I write down their name address and phone, put the note on my bulliten board, board with the date they borrowed and if it isn't back in a couple of days I make a phone call.

When I don't know them---- I go with the jack and it comes home with me!

I have my Father's old, still working HANDY-MAN-JACK-- He taught me to do a few things with it in the 1950's. I think it is heavier constructed than the more modern ones, with just a little rust. One was wrap heavy chain around post a few times as close to ground as you can get it, (wood, metal, didn't matter), place the hook so the chain had a loop, place tongue of jack in the loop with the jack on solid ground or 2x something block of sturdy wood, pump the jack and it's out. Simple.

BUT-- I never thought of the tripod for bushes--- It's gardening time and I have one bad one to remove. Time to pull out the Handy-Man and oil it up!


2 years ago

I like the above technique when you cannot get a straight line pull with a vehicle.

If you can there is another option.

Materials needed.

Good Condition Tow Chain

15 or 16 inch rim without the tire.

You only need to clear a small section so you can reach the lowest place on the bush.

(The more you leave of the bush the better)

Wrap the chain around 3-4 times and place the hook as close to the wrap as possible insuring it is catching the entire chain (don't just stick the end of the hook in a loop).

Use a piece of Parachute cord to secure the hook in place to prevent it from coming loose,

Now lay out the chain in a straight line to your truck/tow hitch attach it and with a parachute cord tie it in place.

Place the Chain over the Rim and push it as close as you can to the bush.

Now insure everyone are at least 3 times the distance of your chain away on the side from the vehicle not standing in front or behind.

Have someone watching the bush and signaling you.

Get in your vehicle.. take up the slack.. You only need to pull it a foot or so to break the roots free so there is no reason to move more than a a few feet.

Bump your gas pedal and bounce the bush out.

It may take a bit to get the hang of it.. But it works quite well once you get the hang of it.

Lots of Lucks


7 replies

Yes, on the be very careful. I watched a neighbor destroy the bumper, tailgate, and rear glass of a '70's Jeep Cherokee 4x4 when the chain got loose under tension. Fortunately, no one was hurt. Turned out the "bush" was a sprouted out Yew stump that was over a foot in diameter.

You say "place the chain over the rim". This could use a bit more description. Is the rim laying flat on the ground? Is the rim vertical? Is it perpendicular to the chain, or in line? I totally didn't get the point until I started going through the possibilities like that. Now I'm betting that you put the chain over the rim so the rim looks like a big pulley wheel with the chain going through it like a belt would - in-line with the chain, and vertical.

Yes the rims purpose is to function as a pulley and pull up like the Jack. So it has to be set upright or in a position to roll..

I had rims laying around. I would not use a tire (such as a spare) the type of stresses induced (in a narrow area of the tire) are not of the type a tire is designed to resist and I see no sense in taking any safety related chances it might damage the tire in a way I cannot see.

Because I have an engineering background I am a bit more safety oriented perhaps.. That is why I said bump not jam on the gas and race across the street.

There are always dangers when using significant forces and people need to be careful and act reasonably.. Be it with a Jack a Truck and a Chain or anything else.

Plant root systems are designed to find water and resist wind roughly parallel to the surface so their ability to resist vertical forces is limited.

You know I tried to get something like the Brush Grubber.. It was a chain with spikes to grab the the brush limbs and a ring to cinch up tight.. I could not find one locally and there all around $100 or more online.

I have found it takes a bit more time to get a solid bite into the base of the bush than I think it would with something like the specifically designed devices referenced above.. But then again I saved the $$ and the technique works..

Be safe and have fun..

I have done this many times using a spare offroad tire (6 ply) mounted on a rim and inflated. Since I use a four wheel drive vehicle, I always place the transfer case into its low range and ease into the throttle. I have pulled up bushes, small tree stumps, and chain link fence posts with no problems. Also, since I have a twenty-five foot chain and a thirty foot long 30,000 pound recovery strap, I don't have to be close to the object being pulled. I forget where I saw this method, but I saw it in a magazine. Of course safety is always paramount. When using a cable, chain, or recovery strap, a heavy blanket or blankets should be placed over the lines to act as a damper in the event they should break. A cable, recovery strap, chain can store a tremendous amount of energy while under a load. If one of those types of lines should break while under stress, they can whip or snap in any direction with catastrophic results. That is why a damper should always be used.


Use of a blanket/s (or an old piece of carpet) as a damper to reduce the chance of injury should the cable or chain break, While I am familiar with the safety measure I did not think to include it.. I still would be cautious with the use of a Spare Tire.. for the reasons previously listed. I will toss a blanket on the next time I do it thank you.

Brings to mind a saying,

"All of us are smarter than any of us"

This really is a pretty neat site..

I saw this video on Youtube of a similar sounding method, I don't know if it's exact though since this one uses the tire on the rim, not just a rim. Looks like a great way to do it though:

Someone else posted a comment about using a rim, seems like a great way to do this as it will pull "UP" instead of "SIDEWAYS" like the jack is doing.

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The brand name of these jacks in Western Canada has been "Jack-All" for the last 50 years or so, made in Winnipeg, Manitoba if memory serves. I have had several, including some stolen, but my first old original "Jack-All" still works just fine. I had not thought of using 2x4 for this - a great idea, cheap and simple - but years ago my next-door neighbour, a welder, made a couple of "A-frame" legs using sections of bed frame angle iron, nested together and welded along the edge seams, and then welded a loop at the top of each made from a link of a heavy logging chain. We drilled holes near the

Hi-Lift is a brand name, and trademark, of an american made product, unlike the chinese copy in the video.

I've seen these jacks used as log splitters too. they run $50 at harbor freight but can be bought cheaper with their sales and discounts.

My husband was great at coming up with ideas to solve problems. He's gone now but I'm glad I paid attention to some of the things he did. I had 8 cemented in chain link posts I wanted removed. My husband taught me to use the hydraulic jack and a heavy chain, wrapping one end of the chain snugly around the bottom of the post and the other end around the jack and securing both ends with a bolt and nut. It took a couple of times of moving the chain down towards the lowest point on the post to remove the posts from the ground but it was quick and easy. Didn't have to build anything and what's even better is that since I already had the jack, I didn't have to buy anything either.

1 reply

Nice, I plan on trying something similar when the whether gets nicer (removing chain link fence posts that are cemented into the ground). Glad other have had success with similar setups.


2 years ago

When I was working as a landscaper I would dig a ditch around the shrub to the depth of a foot at the drip line for that plant then lay a chain around the shrub in the bottom of the ditch. I would use the center of the chain if possible and wrap it so the chain would cross itself on the side of the bush away from the vehicle leaving the two ends pointing to direction of pull. I would use a chain about the size of a child's swing or a bit larger, The object here is to cut the roots to free the plant ball and if a deep enough ditch is dug replanting is quite possible. If you need a deeper ditch then it is best to dig a trough for the tension part of the chain a well. take up tension by hand to set the chain properly and with a steady and firm pull the shrub will come free. I have removed fairly large plants with this method.

Try an old tractor rim!

hi,its a instructable. But I've always used an old rim to pull stumps. take a sharpshooter shovel and dig a little til you can wrap the chain around a few roots. Put the rim close to the stump as possible. put the chain over it and pull it with a truck