The Q&A Archives: Removing Prickly-pear Cactus From Yards

Question: How can I remove two large prickly-pear cacti from my proposed gardening area?

Answer: There's no easy way that I'm aware of. I suggest cutting each pad off at the joint with long-handled pruners. (Protect yourself with long sleeves, etc.) The pads are fleshy, so they cut pretty easily. Pick the pad up with a pair of tongs and dispose of it, or give the pads away to other gardeners. They root easily if allowed to callous over for a few days. (When I cut back my prickly pear, I put one pad in a thick section of newspaper, which allows me to transport them in a box and give them out at my garden club with a minimum of spine-stabbing.) Once the plant is down to a manageable size you can dig it out. Typically, cactus roots are not terribly deep.

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