How to remove invasive honeysuckle

How to remove invasive honeysuckle

We moved into our Upper Arlington home 10 years ago, and 9.8 years ago I learned that I despise invasive honeysuckle. 

Now that I know how much of an ecological disaster Amur honeysuckle is for Ohio, and specifically for Upper Arlington, my rage burns even brighter. When I first moved into this house, I despised the honeysuckle for how quickly it grew back. I'd trim it so I could walk through a path, and it felt like within hours it had easily clawed its way back to exactly where it was before its haircut. I frequently fantasized about murdering it.  

I'm an extreme people pleaser, and our honeysuckle party was straddling our property line along with two neighbors'. For years I assumed those neighbors loved the honeysuckle as much as I hated it, so I kept my honeysuckle murder fantasies to myself. 

Finally in a fit of invasive plant rage, I asked the neighbors if they'd be willing to consider removing the honeysuckle. They were open to the idea, but they wanted to know what might serve a similar hedge purpose that the honeysuckle had for the last few decades. 

I removed my anxious neighbor people pleasing hat and put on my confident digital marketing hat (I wear many hats), grabbed a bottle of Yes Way Rosé, and started putting together a quick presentation. Friday nights as a suburban mom, baby. 

As I brainstormed native replacements for honeysuckle, I landed on a few criteria that I thought would help my persuasive presentation land. 

  • Native shrubs and trees that require little to no maintenance once established
  • Plants that offer privacy without encroaching so quickly on our properties like the honeysuckle did
  • Trees and shrubs that offer year-round interest with different types and shades of blooms to showcase splashes of color from early spring through late fall
  • A variety of berries and flowers that are beneficial to insects, birds and wildlife
  • A mix of plants that thrive in full sun to full shade since the area has the whole range of sunlight
  • A focus on yellow and purple both because pollinators love the colors and to continue my homage to Coach

Ultimately, I landed on the following suggestions of native trees and shrubs for replacing our invasive honeysuckle.  

Native shrubs to replace honeysuckle to create a natural fence: 

  • ButtonbushDense shrub that can grow 7' tall, 15' wide. Global white flowers with spikes in the summer. Thrives in partial shade. 
  • Spicebush: Woody shrub that can grow 12' tall, 15' wide. Bright yellow in early spring, bright red berries in the summer. Thrives in full shade. 
  • Beautyberry: Low growing shrub that can grow 5' tall, 5' wide. Bright purple berries fall through spring. Thrives in partial shade. 

Native tress to replace honeysuckle with color and height: 

  • Serviceberry: Deciduous multi-trunked tree that can grow 20' tall, 20' wide. Delicate white flowers in spring and then dark red/purple berries in June. (Serviceberries are delicious! They taste like a mix of blueberry and almonds and are fantastic on their own or in baked desserts.) 
  • Eastern Redbud: Deciduous multi-trunked tree that can grow 20' tall, 20' wide. Bright pink flowers in early spring. 

The neighbors approved my Yes Way Rosé-fueled presentation! Time to murder some honeysuckle. 

I contacted Andres Tree Services, and about a week later their team came out and expertly and efficiently removed decades of mangled, tangled honeysuckle. The honeysuckle was removed a few days ago, and since then we've been working diligently to remove all of the English Ivy and Natural Ice cans that had covered the area for decades.

Honeysuckle removal before and after

Now the neighbors can more clearly see the bags of mulch I'm meaning to get to.


Honeysuckle removal before and after

I didn't realize how much width and height the honeysuckle was devouring until it was removed. A stunning transformation that's been fantastic for my anti-clutter brain. Wins all around!

Honeysuckle removal woodchipper

The team from Andres Tree Services Fargo-ing the last of the honeysuckle. Satisfying. 

Once the English Ivy and rusty beer cans are all removed, I will briefly break my anti-Roundup stance to paint poison onto all of the honeysuckle stumps. I'll chase the poison with a Palo Santo cleansing ceremony because that's the brand of suburban mom that I am. Next I'll cover the honeysuckle stumps with the months of cardboard I have saved in the garage. And finally on Friday, my good friends from Jones Topsoil will roll up with their Slinger™ Truck to spray five cubic yards of SuperSoil on top of the cardboard. In less than two weeks of time, we'll go from decades of honeysuckle dominance to a healthy mix of nutrient-rich soil and compost so that the property line can live its best life. 

I'll update this post as the neighbors finalize their tree and shrub wishlist. As of right now, the plan is to fill the area with white pines and arborvitae along with the trees and shrubs listed above. We'll soon have low- to no-maintenance privacy that's beneficial to wildlife without inspiring bouts of rage. 

Here's my honeysuckle replacement presentation with the finest Photoshopped property line money can buy at 9 p.m. on a Friday night. 


Reach out if you have any questions about the process. I'd love to be an accomplice to your honeysuckle murder. 

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.