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How to Remove a Tree Stump

By: Jennifer HowellJennifer Howell
If you need to remove a tree stump, here are 3 ways to take care of it!

Need to remove a tree stump?

Whether you lost a tree to a storm, age, disease, or construction, when all the debris is cleared away, you are left with a stump. While there are many creative ways to use a stump in your garden, it is often better to remove it. Just as there are many reasons to cut a tree down, there are just as many reasons to get rid of the leftover stump.

Reasons to remove a tree stump

To avoid unwanted pests

Insects such as ants, termites and wasps find deteriorating tree stumps the perfect spot to make a nest. Snakes and rodents may also live in old tree debris.

To prevent disease or fungal infestation

If your tree died from a disease or fungus, you need to remove and destroy any of the pathogens that could infect other plants in your garden.

To discourage suckers

If too much of the stump remains, suckers and sprouts may emerge from the trunk base or larger roots still in the ground.

To replant in the area

Getting rid of the stump and roots makes it easier to plant a replacement. This may not be advisable, depending on what killed the tree.

To remove tripping hazard

Stumps and old roots can be a tripping hazard, as well as difficult to mow around. And when the stump begins to rot, it can create a depression in the soil that can be dangerous.

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Drilling a stump: Make a stump rot faster by drilling holes in it and adding a rotting agent.

3 Ways to remove a tree stump

If left on its own, a tree stump can take 3 to 7 years to rot away. Here are ways to remove a tree stump quickly.

1. Jumpstart the deterioration of the tree stump

  • Use a drill with a bit at least 1/2 inch in diameter to make several holes in the tree stump a few inches apart and as deep as you can make them.
  • Pack the holes with a rotting agent. This can be a commercial product for this purpose available at a hardware store or a high-nitrogen fertilizer.
  • Wet the surface of the stump to moisten the material in the holes and soak the ground around the stump, then top with a layer of damp mulch or compost.
  • Cover with black plastic to keep the stump moist, then another layer of mulch to hold the plastic down.
  • Check periodically under the plastic to make sure the mulch and stump are moist. Water if it is dry.
  • In a few months, the stump should be rotted and crumbly and you can break up and remove chunks of the wood.

2. Grind the tree stump out

A professional stump grinder uses a machine that chips away the stump, leaving a pile of sawdust or shavings that can be used as mulch or hauled away. Once the stump is ground away, any remaining roots die and rot.

3. Manually remove the stump

Hand dig as much of the stump out as possible after cutting the trunk and larger roots into manageable pieces. Construction machinery can be used for manual removal if you have had the correct training to avoid personal injury. Never attempt to pull a tree trunk out with a truck because you could do serious damage to the vehicle.

Tools you Might Also Like:
Pullerbear Tree Puller
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Product Recommendations

Here are some supplies and tools we find essential in our everyday work in the garden. We may receive a commission from sales referred by our links; however, we have carefully selected these products for their usefulness and quality.


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