Hello, we recently moved into a ’50s home with a barberry hedge that’s probably as old. We think it’s a Japanese barberry. We’re in a corner lot and the hedge doesn’t offer much privacy and we would like to plant some tall trees or a tall hedge.
Also, since barberry is an invasive species, we’re wondering if it would have an affect on our raised garden beds that we plan to set up this year.
How difficult will it be to remove a hedge this old? Do you have any recommendations on gardening / landscaping companies who can help?
Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners. Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii) is highly invasive. It is a prolific seed producer, and spreads readily by bird-dispersed seeds. Its branches may root where they touch the ground, and it also spreads slowly by creeping roots. While it might not take over your garden, it will almost certainly contribute seeds to enable rapid spread to other gardens and natural areas. It also provides the perfect cover for mice and ticks.
Japanese barberry has lots of thorns, so protective clothing and heavy work gloves are required when removing it. It has shallow roots, probably lots of roots in your case, given the size and age of your hedge, and you need to get every bit of its roots so it won’t start growing again after removal. It’s best to remove it when it’s not creating berries (it does this in the fall).
The Toronto Master Gardeners cannot recommend specific businesses, however the Landscape Ontario website is a good resource to help you find a company that can remove your hedge. Here is a link :
Here are links to additional websites that you might find useful, including one to a response from the Toronto Master Gardeners to a question similar to yours.
Best of luck with your hedge !