How To Remove Tree Stumps

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How To Remove Tree Stumps

3 January 2017
 Categories: , Articles

When trees on your property die or are damaged from a storm, you are often left with an unsightly stump that can be difficult to remove.  While large and difficult stumps may call for the services of a professional, there are some ways to get rid of small stumps on your own. Give these techniques a try.

Manual Removal

This method works best for small trees or trees with a shallow root system, such as pine trees. Large deciduous trees typically have massive roots that run deep into the soil and may be more difficult to remove. Here's what you need to do:

  1. Cut any limbs or remaining trunk to the tree, leaving enough of the stump above the ground to be able to hook a chain to it for removal.
  2. Remove soil around the stump and roots with a shovel to expose as much of the roots as you can.
  3. Use a garden hose to wash away soil on the exposed roots.
  4. Cut through the roots with an axe or saw.
  5. Wiggle or push and pull the stump and the roots to work it free of the soil.
  6. Attach a chain to the stump, and hook it to a 4-wheel drive pickup and pull the stump free of the soil, if it resists your efforts to do so by hand.

Chemical Stump Removal

You can purchase stump removal compounds in your local hardware or home improvement store. These are typically sold in powdered form and consist of chemicals that speed up the decaying process in the wood. The active ingredient is often potassium nitrate, also known a saltpeter. Here's how to use it.

  1. Cut the tree stump close to the ground with a chainsaw.
  2. Use a drill with a 1-inch drill bit to drill holes spaced several inches apart around the perimeter of the top of the stump. Drill to a depth of 8 to 12 inches, if possible.
  3. Drill holes around the outside of the tree stump so that they intersect with the holes drilled from the top of the stump. These should form a 45-degree angle.
  4. Fill the holes on the top of the stump with stump remover or saltpeter.
  5. Pour water into the holes to dissolve the stump remover and begin the decaying process.
  6. Monitor the stump for approximately six weeks; add more water if the stump becomes dry.
  7. Break up the stump with a pick ax or other tools when it becomes spongy and breaks apart easily.

Can you burn a tree stump to remove it?

Some people do burn the tree stump, but this does pose a risk of fires springing up where you least expect it. The fire may follow the roots under the ground and smolder for days and exit in a nearby location. While you may have assumed the fire is out, you may suddenly discover nearby trees or buildings in flames. For that reason, burning the stump is not recommended.

What other options do you have?

If manual or chemical removal does not work for you or is not a feasible solution, you have two options: call in the professionals from a company like Hudson Tree Service to do the job for you, or learn to live with the tree stump in your yard. Follow these tips for concealing or tree stump.

  • Place a large planter on the tree stump and fill it with brightly-colored flowers.
  • Cut the stump flush with the ground, and cover it with decorative items, such as a wishing well, water pump, or other lawn or garden feature.
  • Create a bird-feeding station. Drill a hole in the stump and insert rebar or other poles for bird feeders. Erect the feeder and use the base of the stump to offer seeds, nuts, or fruit to ground-feeding birds or squirrels and chipmunks.
  • Hollow out the center of the stump with a wood chisel, and fill it with soil to make a natural planter for flowers or veggies.