From a Correspondent:
There is a large oleander hedge on the property line between my house and my neighbors'. It's quite large, probably about 50 years old. Could you provide any suggestions on how to get rid of it? Thank you.
R., in Phoenix, Ariz.
By far the simplest method to eliminate a large oleander hedge is to move to a new home. Fortunately, there are a lot of houses on the market right now, many of them completely oleander-free.
If for some reason you don't care to move, your next best option is to cut it down and have the remaining stumps ground out. You could in theory have the stumps pulled, but oleanders of a certain age have developed large and sturdy root systems, and that can be a real heartache. You may wish to hire a tree-removal service to do the removal for you, depending on the scale of the task.
Whether you do the removal yourself, or hire someone, there are three important precautions to take. First, talk to your neighbor and make certain you are in agreement about taking it out; these plant contretemps can cause ill-will lasting for years.
Next, call Bluestake, a free utility marking service that will locate and mark any underground utilities for you; you don't want to accidentally disturb gas or other utility lines. In the Phoenix area call 602.263.1100 or 800.STAKE.IT.
Last, be certain whoever is cutting and grinding is wearing protective breathing masks and safety glasses; all parts of the oleander are toxic, including the sap and the dust generated by grinding. Even if the crew shows up without masks and glasses, get some and make them wear them; it will earn you points in heaven.
I hope this helps,