Large Agave Removal

By Misty Barton

Agave is a succulent plant native to the American Southwest. It is an evergreen plant that grows new rings of leaves each years to reach a mature height of 5 to 7 feet and a mature spread of 8 to 12 feet. The plant can take as many as 40 years to bloom, and promptly dies after blooming. The blooms emerge on a tall stem that resembles asparagus but grows up to 30 feet tall. Removal of an large agave from landscaping can be a daunting task because of the sheer weight of the mature plant.

There are more than 200 variaties of agave.

Step 1

Put on protective clothing. This should include long sleeves from a thick material like denim, leather gloves, long pants and closed-toe shoes. The sap from the agave plant is highly poisonous and will cause skin irritation immediately upon contact. Skin reactions can include blistering of the skin.

Step 2

Cut the bottom leaves off the plant with a long handled set of sheers. The bottom leaves of the plant lay directly on the ground. If you do not remove the leaves, you will not be able to get a shovel below the plant.

Step 3

Saw off any of the lower leaves which are too fibrous to cut with the sheers with a small hand saw. Put the removed leaves in a bucket or wheelbarrow for removal. You don't want to leave them laying around, because the juices are still poisonous after the leaves are removed.

Step 4

Dig a circle all the way around the base of the plant, with your shovel angled toward the plants center. Remember the goal is to remove the whole agave and its root mass. The root mass below the plant should be shaped like an upside-down pyramid when you lift the plant from the ground. Use a shovel with a spade head that will cut through any roots it encounters.

Step 5

Make sure that the agave is fully disconnected from the ground and ready for removal. When you can use the shovel to slightly lift the root mass from the ground, it is ready for removal with a rope. A large agave is extremely heavy so lifting it out of the ground on top of the shovel blade could damage the handle of the shovel.

Step 6

Wrap a rope around the agave plant as near the root mass as possible. The rope should set down into the leaves, and be held in place by the leaves above and below it. The two ends of the rope will work like handles that give you leverage and a way to carry or drag the agave.

Step 7

Pull the agave out of the ground with the strings. Just grab both ends of the string and walk backward, lifting up slightly on the strings, so the agave lifts out of the ground and slides across the surface of the soil.

Step 8

Move the agave to a trash pile that you will burn. Agave can be put in the compost piles, but needles can last forever and continue to pose a health risk. Burning plants once they dry out is effective and gets rid of them completely.

Step 9

Remove agave pups, or young plants, as they emerge in the soil surrounding the removal site. Baby agave can grow from any little piece of root left in the soil after the removal. Always wear gloves when removing the pups.