How to Remove Cactus from Yard

When it comes to landscaping, cacti are an interesting and low-maintenance choice for brightening up any outdoor space. However, if cacti become too overgrown in your yard or you decide to switch out your current landscape design, you may wonder how to remove cactus from your yard.

Removing a cactus may seem daunting, but it can be done safely and effectively with the right tools and techniques. From correctly digging up the cactus to preventing further growth in its former spot, removing it from your yard can be easy with just a few steps!

Read on to learn how to remove cactus from your yard quickly!

Manual Methods of Removing a Cactus From Yard

1. Digging Around the Base

Dig around a cactus‘s base and remove it from your yard. To dig, you will require a sturdy shovel. Follow the following tips when digging around the base.

  • First, assess the size of the cactus and determine the hole size you need to dig.
  • Start digging a trench around the cactus base, making sure to keep the trench as close to the cactus base as possible.
  • Dig down deep enough to expose the roots of the cactus. If you encounter tough roots, use a pair of pliers to help cut or pull them out.
  • Be careful not to damage the cactus or its roots too much. This can cause it to regrow or develop infections.
  • Once you’ve dug around the base, you can use your hands to carefully lift the cactus out of the ground and dispose of it properly.

2. Using Gloves and Tongs

Using gloves and tongs is a great way to remove a cactus from yard without getting pricked by its spines. Follow the following tips when using gloves and tongs while removing the cactus from your yard.

  • Start by putting on a thick pair of gloves that cover your hands and forearms completely.
  • Use a pair of tongs or pliers to carefully grasp the base of the cactus or one of its limbs.
  • Hold the cactus steady and carefully twist it back and forth to loosen it from the ground.
  • If the cactus is particularly large or difficult to remove, you can use a shovel to dig around the base of the cactus to loosen the roots.
  • Once the cactus is loosened, use the tongs or pliers to lift it from the ground and place it in a trash bag for disposal.

Be sure to handle the cactus carefully to avoid getting poked by its spines, even while wearing gloves.

3. Cutting Off the Top

Cutting off the top of a cactus is a quick and easy way to remove it from your yard, but it’s only effective for small or young cacti. Follow the following tips when following this method;

  • Put on a thick pair of gloves to protect your hands from the cactus spines.
  • Use a sharp knife or pruning shears to carefully cut off the top of the cactus.
  • Be sure to cut as close to the base of the cactus as possible to prevent regrowth.
  • Once you’ve removed the top, you can dispose of it in a trash bag or compost it if possible.

However, remember that cutting off the top of a cactus won’t remove the roots, so you may need to repeat this process if the cactus regrows.

This method is not recommended for large or mature cacti as they can be difficult to handle and dangerous to cut.

Chemical Methods of Removing a Cactus From Yard

1. Picloram Based Herbicide

Using Picloram-based herbicides can help to remove cactus from the yard.

Since there are many cactus species, it works better on certain species of cacti, such as prickly pear and cholla. However, it’s important to note that the use of Picloram requires a license in the United States, as it’s a restricted-use pesticide.

When used properly, Picloram can be effective at killing cacti. However, it’s a slow-acting herbicide and can take several years to completely kill a cactus.

It’s usually applied directly to the cactus by spraying or painting it onto the plant.

One of the concerns with using Picloram is that it can contaminate water sources and cause health issues for humans and animals.

 It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using this herbicide and to avoid applying it near bodies of water or areas where people or animals may come into contact with it.

Additionally, Picloram can harm or kill nearby plants, so it should only be used where cactus removal is necessary and there are no other desirable plants in the area.

2. Hexazinone Based Herbicide

Hexazinone is a herbicide that can be used to remove cactus from the yard.

It works by inhibiting the plant’s ability to produce a specific enzyme necessary for photosynthesis. Without this enzyme, the plant cannot produce energy and will eventually die.

When hexazinone is applied to the soil, it’s absorbed by the plant’s roots and transported to the leaves and stems.

Once it reaches the leaves and stems, it interferes with the plant’s ability to produce the necessary enzyme and slowly kills the plant. It’s a systemic herbicide, meaning it’s absorbed by the entire plant and is effective at controlling even large or deep-rooted cacti.

It’s important to note that hexazinone can take several weeks or even months to completely kill a cactus, and it may require multiple applications to be effective.

It’s also important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using hexazinone, as overapplication or improper use can result in the herbicide contaminating nearby water sources and causing harm to humans and animals.

Remember that inhaling can leave to lungs or any organ damage. It is also important to protect your eyes when using hexazinone, as even a single drop can damage your eyes.

3. 2,4-DP

2,4-DP (2,4-dichloro phenoxy acetic acid) is a synthetic herbicide commonly used to control broadleaf weeds.

While it may be effective at killing some types of plants, including cacti, it is not recommended for use because it can harm the environment and damage nearby plants.

2,4-DP herbicide disrupts the plant’s normal growth and development. Specifically, it interferes with the plant’s ability to produce certain growth hormones, which results in abnormal growth and, eventually, death.

This herbicide is absorbed through the leaves and transported to the rest of the plant, where it accumulates and causes damage.

However, it’s important to note that cacti are often difficult to kill with herbicides, including 2,4-DP, due to their thick, waxy cuticles and water-storing tissues.

Physical removal or digging out of the plant may be a more effective and environmentally-friendly method for removing cactus in your yard.

4. Fluroxypyr Based Herbicide

Like 2,4-DP, fluroxypyr is a synthetic herbicide designed to control broadleaf weeds by disrupting the plant’s normal growth and development.

Fluroxypyr works by mimicking the natural plant hormone auxin, which is responsible for regulating growth and development in plants.

When fluroxypyr is applied to a cactus, it is absorbed through the leaves and transported throughout the plant. Once inside the plant, it interferes with the normal functioning of auxin, leading to uncontrolled cell growth and, eventually, plant death.

It’s important to note that cacti, with their thick and waxy skin, can be difficult to control with herbicides, including fluroxypyr.

In addition, fluroxypyr may have negative environmental impacts, including toxicity to non-target organisms and leaching into groundwater.

Therefore, it is recommended to explore alternative methods to control or remove cactus from the yard. Opt for physical removal methods.

Easy & Safe Disposal Methods After Removing a Cactus From Yard

1. Wrapping in Newspaper

Wrapping a cactus in the newspaper is a safe and easy way to dispose of it after removing it from your yard. To do this;

  • Put on a pair of gloves to protect your hands from the cactus spines.
  • Lay out several sheets of newspaper on a flat surface. Place the cactus on top of the newspaper and carefully wrap the cactus in the newspaper, ensuring that all the spines are covered.
  • Use tape or twine to secure the newspaper around the cactus.
  • Once the cactus is wrapped, you can dispose of it in a trash bag.

Be sure to handle the cactus carefully to avoid getting poked by its spines, even while wearing gloves. This method is particularly useful for transporting the cactus to a disposal site, as the newspaper will help protect it during transport

2. Using as Compost

Composting is a natural process of breaking down organic matter, such as plant material, into nutrient-rich soil.

It is a sustainable way to dispose of plant waste, including cactus, and has several advantages.

If you want to compost a cactus after removing it, there are a few things to remember;

  • Cacti have thick and fibrous stems and take longer to decompose. Chop the cactus into small pieces to speed up the process.
  • Cacti have spines that can cause injury, so it’s important to wear gloves and protective clothing when handling them.
  • The compost pile should be kept moist and regularly turned to ensure proper aeration and decomposition.
  • The process can take several months to a year, depending on the size and composition of the compost pile.

3. Burning

Burning a cactus after removing it is an option for disposal, but it should be done cautiously and only in areas where it is allowed.

If the cactus is completely dry and dead, burning can efficiently reduce its size and eliminate it completely.

If you want to burn a cactus, there are a few things to remember;

  • Before burning a cactus, it should be cut into smaller pieces for more efficient burning.
  • Burning should only be done on calm days with no wind to avoid the risk of the fire spreading.
  • It’s important to check with local fire authorities and comply with any regulations or restrictions they may have on open burning.
  • Burning cacti can release toxic fumes, so avoiding inhaling the smoke and staying upwind of the fire is important.

Burning your dead cactus plant can be an easy way to get rid of it. However, it may not be the most environmentally-friendly option, as burning can release greenhouse gases and contribute to air pollution.

4. Recycling

Recycling a cactus after removing it can be a creative and sustainable way to repurpose the plant material.

There are several ways to recycle a cactus, depending on the species and condition of the plant.

  • One option is to use the spines for crafts or decorative purposes. Cactus spines come in various shapes, sizes, and colors, making them ideal for creating unique and visually interesting designs.
  • Another option is to use the plant material for landscaping or gardening projects. Cactus stems can be cut into sections and used as barriers or borders around garden beds or as supports for climbing plants.
  •  Cactus pads can be used as mulch or soil amendment to improve drainage and water retention.
  • If the plant is alive, it can be transplanted to a new location or given to someone else who wants to grow it.
  • The plant can be donated to a local botanical garden or nursery for educational or conservation purposes.

Madagascar Ocotillo (Madigascan) African Alluaudia procera, 4 inch White Cactus

Wrapping Up!

Although cactus removal can be intimidating, it doesn’t have to be.

Selecting the proper cactus removal method based on your soil type and weather conditions should also be considered when deciding which approach to take.

If you need help removing cacti from around your home or business. In that case, a professional gardener or landscaper is also always a great option as they may offer a more permanent solution.

Ultimately, with the tips listed above and determination and some protective equipment for yourself, you, too, can be successful at cactus removal!