How Deep Are Holly Tree Roots?

When I moved into my dream home, I was faced with a less than dreamy diseased Holly Tree in my front yard. I knew it had to be removed before the disease spread to other plants, but I was truly stumped on where to begin. How deep are Holly Tree roots, anyway?

The Holly Tree is known for its massive root complex. The lateral roots spread underneath the earth and mirror the tree spread.

The taproot is the vertical root of the tree which grows downward searching for ground water. These deep Holly Tree roots can grow out 30-40 ft (9-12 m) from the trunk providing an anchor for the tree to absorb superficial water. This allows the Holly Tree to be less prone to drought.

Clearly, removing a Holly Tree can be a big project. But, if you are here because you also have a Holly Tree debacle, I have discovered the simplest way to remove a Holly Tree, roots and all!

How Much Does it Cost to Remove a Large Holly Tree?

Paying someone to come and remove your Holly Tree can be expensive. The cost associated with tree removal depends on multiple factors:

  1. Size of Tree
  2. Location of Tree
  3. Diameter of the Tree Trunk
  4. Health of the Tree
  5. Type of Tree

With smaller Holly Trees up to 30 ft (9 m) in height, you can expect to pay around $250 – $300 USD. For Holly Trees that are taller and more mature, you can expect to pay up to $700 USD. While this may seem expensive, hiring a professional may be the safest and most convenient option for tree removal.

If you are a DIYer or have a relative or friend who is and wants to help you, I have laid out the steps it takes to remove a Holly Tree.

How to Remove a Holly Tree

Axe on dead tree

Removing a Holly Tree may seem like a massive undertaking, but it can be super simple if you are prepared. You will need the following items:

  • Protective Clothing and Eyewear
  • Lopping Shears
  • Chainsaw
  • Friend or Helper
  • Axe
  • Shovel
  • Heavy Duty Digging Bar (to remove stump)
  • Drill with Drill Bits
  • Poison or Epsom Salt (to kill stump instead of removing)

Protect Yourself

It is always important to dress appropriately when landscaping. Thick jeans, closed-toe shoes, a long sleeve shirt, thick leather or gardening gloves, and proper eyewear are all necessary precautions. This may help prevent minor scrapes and scratches from the tree and will offer protection from the sun.

Prune Back Excess Branches

The process of removing extra branches and leaves from the center trunk of the Holly Tree will allow you more control of the removal. Try to cut the branches into easily moveable sizes to make clean up more manageable.

Cut Down the Holly Tree

Once you have trimmed back the branches, you can go ahead and cut the trunk of the tree using a chainsaw. Always wear safety goggles when operating a chainsaw and be sure to have a friend or family member with you during this process.

You will want to make a cut 6 in (15 cm) from the ground. Plan your cut appropriately so that the tree falls away from you, buildings, other people, and other trees.

Prep the Stump

If you are removing the Holly Tree stump altogether, you will need to dig around it. Use a shovel to dig at least 1 ft (0.3 m) down and out around the stump, exposing some of the tree’s roots.

If you are not removing the stump, drill holes into the top and pour either an epsom salt or tree poison mixture.

Remove the Stump

Use your axe to chip away at the remaining tree trunk and the large roots that are visible. Then, use the steel bar to leverage the stump out of place. The more you remove with the axe, the easier it will be to lift the stump from the ground.

Clean up

Once the stump has been removed, fill the hole with the dirt you removed while digging it out. You may need to get some more filler dirt. If you’re in a location that allows, chop up your fallen tree and enjoy a fantastic bonfire! Otherwise, you can call a tree removal company to come and take it.

Can Holly Tree Roots Damage a Foundation?

Big roots

Yes, Holly Tree roots are very strong and can grow up to 40 ft (12 m) from the trunk! In the process of searching for water and sustenance, these massive root systems can grow under foundations.

This can cause the foundation to become uneven and even crack. If the foundation is already cracked, the roots may try to make their way into the cracks, causing even more issues.

How Close to a House Can You Plant a Holly Tree?

Planting a Holly Tree too close to your home can lead to future problems. The roots could damage the foundation, a rotten or dying tree could fall on your house causing injury, or the Holly Tree roots could interfere with plumbing under the house.

Most gardeners and landscapers use this magic number when planting shrubs and trees: however tall the mature plant will be, cut that number in half and plant the tree that distance from the home. So if your Holly Tree will grow to 40 ft (12 m) in height, plant your tree at least 20 ft (6 m) from your house.

This allows for roots to spread without the worry of them entangling in your plumbing or foundation. This space also creates a safety net if the tree needs to be removed in the future. You will not have to worry about your tree falling into the structure as it is far enough away.

How Big Can Holly Trees Grow?

American Holly Trees are not small by any means at maturity. These trees can grow to around 50 ft (15 m) in height and 40 ft (12 m) in spread. It may be helpful to keep their size in mind when deciding to add a Holly Tree to your landscaping.

Are Holly Trees Good for Privacy?

Holly Trees make great privacy trees as they are evergreen. These trees make a unique and festive addition to any landscape design with their waxy, jagged leaves and bright red berries. With their year-round beauty and added privacy, Holly Trees may be exactly what you are looking for.


Holly Trees are unique, beautiful, and a great addition to your landscape design. But when they need to be removed, they can quickly become a burden.

Holly Trees can grow up to 50 ft (15 m) high and have extensive root systems, making them hard to take down on your own. You may want to hire a local professional tree removal company.

If you are wanting to remove the tree on your own, it can be simple when you have the right tools and follow the above steps.