Edward reid 2009-07-22 14:16:06
Any ideas for a seriously heavy duty weed puller?
Part of my yard — and my next door neighbor’s yard, and other places
in my neighborhood, which is a veritable hotspot of invasive exotics —
is infested with clerodendrum. Beautiful flowers, stinks, highly
invasive, perennial — and tough. Stems 1/8″ to 3/8″ in diameter,
probably more if left alone. It sprouts vigorously from the roots, and
so has to be pulled to have any chance of knocking it back. (My next
door neighbor tried mowing it. She ended up with a stronger crop than
Now, when I was 25, I’d have just grabbed the things and pulled them up
— 90% or so aren’t too bad. But it’s thirty years later and I have
arthritis in several joints in my hands, and have already aggravated it
trying to pull these things.
And the clerodendrum is the easy stuff. I also have lots of ardesia,
which is ten times tougher to pull. It has seriously tough roots, and
the only reason I have to believe pulling it is a possibility is that
the stem is just as tough.
So I’ve been looking for some kind of tool to help pull the
clerodendrum. I bought a Weed-Ho at a local store, and while it’s a
useful tool, it’s too light weight. On the web, the only possibility
I’ve see is the Extratigator:
It’s expensive — US$122 with shipping and possibly import duty too,
and the fact that they haven’t answered my email doesn’t bode well.
More importantly, it appears to depend on rather narrow tines pushing
on the surface of the ground, and they’d almost certainly just dig in
to my Florida soil. So I’d additionally have to figure out a way to
attach a board to the tool, or carry one around, to spread the force.
My concept has been a device with a cam (or double cam) to grip the
stem and grip it tighter as I pull up, with handles (solid or rope) and
hand grips to pull up. While this wouldn’t offer the leverage of the
Extractigator, it would be a lot easier to manoevre in close quarters.
Or the cams with handles like a lopper, with a ratchet, so that you
pull the toughie by opening and closing the handles.
I would have thought such a thing would have a good market, but I
haven’t seen anything like it — the Extractigator is the only thing
I’ve seen that grips a solid stem for me.
I will appreciate any and all ideas!
Ann 2009-07-22 14:16:40
Something like this?
I remember a tool, a heavy-duty bar that grabbed roots of shrubs up to
small trees and pulled them out by the roots with a rocking motion,
priced similarly to the above tool, but it was beefier….I can’t find
it. If I do, I’ll post it here.
Ann, Gardening in zone 6a
Just south of Boston, MA
Zxcvbob 2009-07-22 14:16:56
That looks very much like a conduit bender.
Have you thought about paying a kid $20 to pull them up? Or cutting
them down and dabbing the stumps with a paintbrush with a strong herbicide?
Edward reid 2009-07-22 14:17:18
Ooh, that does look serious. The picture only shows the business end;
I’ve written them to ask about the handles. Thanks! If I get it, I’ll report back.
Yes, please do. The things I’m worried about have strong, tangled
roots, so grabbing the roots would be even better.
On Sat, 16 Oct 2004 10:20:06 -0400, zxcvbob wrote
Definitely a strong resemblance.
Well, a lot of it is that I like taking care of the yard myself, even
if I need better tools. However, as I get older I know I’ll have to
depend on others to help, so your point is well taken.
Hmm, I’d have to experiment. It’s a possibility. I’d have to have one
person cutting and another following with the herbicide to hit them
before we lost them … there are so many of the small (c. 1/8″) stems.
Thanks to both,
Face 2009-07-22 14:17:26
Borrow a teenager?
I have found the best time to pull these years is just after a soaking rain.
For those ridiculously tough plants or 10″ trees if you spade the ground
next to it they will usually give up pretty easily.
Worst case scenario, or best, depending on how you look at it, is for the
2 foot+ opportunistic trees where you may need to tie a 1/2″ nylon braided
rope to the tow eye on your car and tie a slip knot to the bottom of the
little trunk (so that it tightens as it pulls) which you have spaded around
— and then just back up slowly. I have done that quite a few times and
haven’t broken a rope yet but have pulled 12-14″ tap roots out.
Face 2009-07-22 14:17:35
I just looked at the extractigator site. Relatively simple concept and
construction for a relatively ridiculous price. Loved the child-alone
warning for a piece of pipe.
Leon fisk 2009-07-23 13:00:22
Here are a few more links to pullers you can consider:
Not exactly a stem gripper, but it would loosen the ground
around the weed and maybe get it up (shrug).
It doesn’t say so here, but I’ve seen this locally and it
was made by Fiskars. I’m not sure how long it would hold up
under hard use though…
I also saw this locally and it looked pretty heavy duty.
Hard to say for sure though, it would depend on the quality
of the wood handle and steel that was used.
Grand Rapids MI/Zone 5b
Remove no.spam for email
Edward reid 2009-07-23 13:01:22
Yes, I wouldn’t trust it for this job. I don’t think I mentioned — the
clerodendrum has pretty tough roots — it spreads by runners — and
they spread quite a way. Ardesia has even tougher roots.
Now this is certainly interesting. Much better pictures at the
manufacturer’s web site:
Reasonable price too, about 1/4 of the Extractigator. It might help
with the smaller clerodendrum, though not with the ardesia. It should
be useful for a variety of other things. I think I’d still have to put
a board under the lever arm in soft soil.
Pulling the larger clerodendrum definitely requires either a VERY
strong grip on the stem or roots, or getting under the roots. Some of
the devices around look like they just won’t grip tightly enough.
FACE: I sort of like the idea of pulling them with the car. Might be a
bit slow, as there’s probably well over 100 stems needing this
treatment, and that doesn’t even count the small ones that are easier
to pull. Maybe I could do this trick with my bicycle, which is easier
to maneuvre? 😉
Earlier discussion mentioned the Weed and Brush Puller at
I asked, and they sent me a photo of the entire device. For anyone
who’s interested, I’ve put that photo up at
It looks like it also has a lever arrangement — two flat prongs coming
out the back. I’ve asked for clarification. The prongs look a little
wider than the others, but I think would still need a board in my soil,
but maybe not always.
My search continues, but I’m feeling a lot better about the choices
Face 2009-07-23 13:01:43
I just did a Google Image on clerodendrum and it really looks very pretty —
but maybe those are specialty cultivars.
If you do it on a bike, then be prepared to go over the handlebars when you
reach the end of the rope.
I know that the car trick sounds drastic. I only use it for opportunistic
trees that have gotten to a coupla feet and man-powered pulling is out of
the question. Even then i will spade around the trunk to loosen things up a
bit before I pull. (That’s the trunk of the tree — not the car.)
For $115 it should do the pulling by itself while you sit on the porch. 🙂
Consider that you can buy a “specialty” shovel from Home Depot for about 5
bucks. Actually, this specialty shovel is cleverly disguised to look like a
common pointed shovel, but incorporates a hardened steel pointed end and a
wide thin blade engineered for easy ground penetration up to 8 inches as
well as a long hardwood handle for excellent leverage.
Most especially after a rain that has softened the ground this scientific
and ergonometric implement will easily dislodge roots that have grappled
into down into soil and allow an easy pickup of the targeted plant or
The writer here has had much experience using this amazing device which is
multi-usage and can also be employed for other things like digging holes in
the ground. Just last week the wife spotted a nice fern back in the woods
that was really supposed to be at the edge of the yard and using the
specialty shovel and spading in a circle around the subject fern a perfect
root ball was made which with the final push came up from the ground cradled
on the wide specialty blade.
Amazing device! FACE
Edward reid 2009-07-24 00:26:16
Oh, it IS pretty. Beautiful flowers. Actually Clerodendrum is a large
genus — depending on which web page you hit, maybe 100 species, maybe
400. All native to SE Asia. Most info says that they won’t survive
below 45F and need a greenhouse, but obviously there are exceptions. I
don’t know what species I have, but the weather gets below freezing
every winter here (Tallahassee) and we had one night down around 22F
winter before last (in town — 15F in rural areas) and it wasn’t fazed
It would be a lovely garden plant if it weren’t so damned invasive. I
think I mentioned that it propagates by runners. I’ve had to pull it
out of azalea beds because it was threatening to shade out the azaleas!
Yech. I don’t need that. And to add insult, the disturbed foliage has a
rather obnoxious scent.
I should check tomorrow to see if any are in bloom so I can post a pic for you.
I suppose you could try dynamite. Actually ISTR my father trying the
car trick with some tree once when I was growing up. I don’t think it
worked for him.
I don’t think I’ve found any of my clerodendrum that needs this
treatment. Even the strongest ones, I can pull by hand IF I can get a
good enough grip without hurting my hands. IOW it’s stronger than my
fingers but not stronger than my legs. Probably is stronger than my
fingers were even when I was young. And if there’s a handful that are
stronger than my legs, I don’t mind digging a few. Just not a few hundred.
Yeah, well, that gets back to the “hire a teenager” idea. If it were
1/3 or maybe even 1/2 that price, I’d say I’ll just try it.
I like working in my yard, but digging up 200 woody weeds by digging
200 holes still doesn’t sound like I’m having fun yet.
Face 2009-07-24 00:26:50
I am sure you are well-acquainted with the nuances of hand pulling unwanted
garden growth. Sudden brute force seldom works unless you just want to tear
off the plant at the ground. What does work, especially in getting out the
roots, is steady applied pressure. I am not talking about minutes, but 5-15
Edward reid 2009-07-24 11:18:06
All depends on the weed of course. With many, pulling the stem will
never get the roots. The clerodendrum has a strong stem and will
usually bring up a lot of root with it. 5-15 seconds? I should be so
lucky. When I’ve been able to pull them, I’ve pulled on some for a
minute or too. My fingers paid for it the next day.
None in bloom right now.