How to Kill a Rose Bush – 3 Easy Methods

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Roses are indeed beautiful flowers. However, if you are planning to redesign your garden or want to make space for something else, then you will want to remove the rose bush. It could be a daunting task.

Rose bushes can be practically difficult to remove when they are thick and well-established plants. The roots are strong and the regrowth with the thorns can become a nuisance.

So if you are wondering how to kill a rose bush, you will learn some handy methods in this article. Read on to find out how to kill a rose bush with the copper nail method.

how to kill a rose bush

How to Kill a Rose Bush – 3 Easy Methods

Method 1 — Cutting and Copper Nail

Rose bushes can sometimes seem indestructible. The copper nail method is an effective way to kill a rose bush once you’ve cut it down to a stump. The copper nail will prevent regrowth of the persistent plant and stop growth as it gets absorbed down to the roots.

Step 1: Cut away the excess foliage

You will need to use a bush trimmer or sharp pruning shears to cut away the excess foliage. The purpose is for you to easily see and access the base of the rose bush.

Step 2: Cut the base of the bush

Use a hack saw or other tool to cut the bush down to a stump.

Step 3: Create a pilot hole

Use a drill and steel nail to create a pilot hole in the middle of each stump.

The pilot hole is necessary so that you can easily hammer the nail in place. Otherwise, you may get undesirable bending in the copper nail and have to start over.

Step 4: Insert the copper nail

Place the copper nail into the pilot hole and use a hammer to push it in.

You can place as many nails into the stump as you like. For a 1-2 inch diameter, you will only need 1-2 nails.

Alternatively, you can place the copper nail into a living rose bush. If that makes it easier for you to cut it down once it has died.

Step 5: Wait 2-4 weeks

It will take at least 2-4 weeks for the stump to absorb the copper and die through the roots.

Method 2 — Physical Removal

The physical method of removing rose bush does involve some elbow grease. It means uprooting the bush completely. However, not only is it an inexpensive method, but it’s also much safer for the soil around the bush.

All it takes is some pruning and a few hours in the garden.

Following are a few simple steps on how to get this done.

Step 1: Cut back excess foliage

As the first step to removing the rose bush, you need to cut back any excess foliage. It’s for the simple reason that it’s easier to work your way under the soil once you get rid of the growth above the roots.

You will need sharp pruning shears to get this done. Make sure to wear protective gear so as not to hurt yourself with thorns and sharp tools. You can plan on cutting back the rose bush a few days before you work on uprooting it completely.

If the plant has got a disease, make sure you neatly bag all the leaves and extras so as not to infect the plants and soil nearby. This is a very important step when you are considering how to kill a rose bush.

Step 2: Water the bush

The day before you are ready to pull out the roots, water the base of the rose bush well. This is so that the water will loosen up the soil. Loose soil makes it easy for you to dig in and pull out the roots.

Step 3: Dig a circle around the root base

Once you water the base of the bush, and the earth around it loosens up, dig a circle around the root base. Make it up to 10 or 12 feet around it.

The roots extend on all sides and you will have to find the root ball — digging the soil around the bush will help you do this easily. Use a shovel and lightly dig out the area.

Step 4: Find the root and pull up the entire plant

Once the soil has loosened up and you have dug out the area around the base of the bush, it’s time to get in and find the root ball. Use a shovel and dig out the roots. Once you find the root ball, lift up the plant entirely. Repeat this step to make sure no roots are left in the soil. Missed roots may give way for the bush to come back again.

If you find roots sticking to the soil, cut them off with sharp pruning shears. You don’t want to leave rotten or infected roots or any part of the plant behind. Doing so may infect surrounding plants and the soil.

Step 5: Getting rid of the plant

You must be very careful as to what you do with the uprooted rose bush. Do not use them for compost, as it could be a bad idea. You wanted to get rid of the bush for a reason in the first place— the reason being it was not good enough.

It’s better off thrown away or discarded — at least that way it will not affect other plants.

You can also consider burning the bush to completely get rid of it. Also, watch for any remains of the bush around the soil where it originally was. Check for any regrowth or infection and treat it accordingly.

Method 3 — Chemical Method

If you have tried the physical method of uprooting the rose bush and it doesn’t seem to really work, then you may have to go take stronger and more severe measures. This involves treating it with chemicals or getting professional help. Before you try the latter, you can give the chemical method a try.

Note: In the physical method, we talked about cutting back excess foliage for best results with uprooting the bush. However, in the case of the chemical method, it’s best to leave the foliage as it is.

This gives the herbicide the surface area it needs to work on the bush. So leave the foliage on, and directly apply the herbicide to the bush. This facilitates direct contact and lets it work its way into the bush.

Step 1: Choosing Recommended Herbicides

This is a key preparatory step when you consider how to kill a rose bush. Depending on the size of the bush, time of the year, and other such factors, you need to study and choose the best herbicide product that will work for you.

In general, glyphosate is a recommended ingredient often used for killing rose bushes. However, as with any chemical product, it does have its side effects.

It’s best to get a complete perspective and take precautionary measures before you decide on your product. As far as your options go, you have premium rose bush killers as well as cost-effective alternatives in the market. You can analyze and choose the one that works for you best.

Step 2: Reading and Following Instructions

Make sure to read the instructions on the product you choose for advice on the following parameters:

  • The proportion of the herbicide to be mixed with water.
  • How much to spray on the foliage.
  • How many days or weeks to wait before you pull out the rose bush entirely with its roots.

Follow the instructions on your selected herbicide and apply it to the rose bush. The rose bush should in the given amount of time, and be easily removable.

In general, if you are choosing the chemical route, it is recommended that you pick sometime late summer to work the herbicide on your bush when it’s not going to be windy or rainy. You don’t want the herbicide to be washed away from surrounding plants or soil.

So, along with the choice of the product, it is also important that you choose the correct time to work your herbicide on the rose bush.

That’s pretty much it! These are a couple of methods on how to kill a rose bush. Weigh in the pros and cons of both methods and start acting on them right away!

FAQs on How to Kill a Rose Bush

What can I use to kill rose bushes?

You may use the copper nail method to kill rose bushes. First, you should cut down the plant to its stump. Then, follow the steps in Method 1 to drive in the copper nail. Wait 2-4 weeks for the rest of the plant to die. In the meantime, there should not be any new growth.

Alternatively, consider the physical method of actually uprooting the plant completely. Then spray the hole with vinegar or salt, or both, to deter the roots from regrowing.

Will boiling water kill a rose bush?

Yes, super hot boiling water could kill a rose bush, but it might also kill all the surrounding plants and grass. You will have to be careful when pouring it.

Using additives to the soil such as salt and vinegar may also have the same result. However, be careful with the application because it could affect the soil and other plants around the bush.

So it is recommended that you use the copper nail method (see Method 1) on the stump for killing rose bushes or uproot them physically.


If you are wondering how to kill a rose bush, you have a couple of options. You can physically uproot the rose bush entirely by spending some time and effort. Alternatively, you can use a copper nail method to get rid of the bush by killing it altogether.

Uprooting the bush requires you to do some preparatory work such as cutting back the foliage, watering the base of the bush to loosen the earth around it, and finally digging into the soil to find the root and remove the entire plant.

With the herbicide, be prepared by thoroughly following the brand’s instructions. Spray it on the foliage and let it work on the bush. Check the wait time before you can physically remove it safely.

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