How To Get Rid Of A Tree Stump

Trees are beautiful and certainly add a lot to landscaping. There are times, though, when you need to remove a tree. Once you have safely cut down the tree, you are left with the stump.

Tree stumps need to be removed. Your first thought may be that it is too hard and you will have to call in the experts, which can be pricey. Do not worry. Removing a tree stump is a project you can do yourself with some tools and some time. Here’s how to do it.

How To Get Rid Of A Tree Stump

How To Get Rid Of A Tree Stump

Tools you will need:

  • Shovel
  • Heavy steel digging bar
  • Mattock
  • Small bow saw
  • Large bow saw
  • Ax
  • Steel toed boots
  • Work gloves
  • Safety glasses

Now you are ready to remove the stump.

Steps to remove the stump

1. Start by digging around the stump with the mattock’s broad end.

2.Once you have loosened the dirt around the stump you will need to, shovel it out of your way. Be aware that you will need to clear away a lot of soil. The bigger the stump, the more dirt you will have to move.  This is an important step since it is necessary to gain access to all the roots that will need cutting.

3.Now you will take the other end of the mattock and start chopping your way through the tree roots. You can also use a small bow saws to help sever the roots as you uncover them.

4.The next step is physically intense. You will need to dig and chop your way underneath the root ball to find the taproot. For all but the smallest of trees, taproots will be a big obstacle. It will be big enough to require cutting it with an ax or the large bow saw. Clean away any excess dirt off the taproot with a wet rag before cutting.

5.Next, start to chop through the taproot with your ax or with a bow saw. You need to be sure that the area is clear of people, pets, and any other objects before you start swinging the ax. 6.Take care to aim the ax carefully so that it does not strike dirt, which just makes the blade dull. Always wear steel-toed boots when using an ax.

Other ways to remove a tree stump

If you are not physically able to remove a tree stump with an ax, etc. there is another way . Here is what you will need to remove a tree stump chemically.

Supplies needed

  • Drill and a large bit
  • Chainsaw
  • Plastic tarp
  • Mulch
  • High-nitrogen fertilizer or potassium-nitrate tree stump removal granules

Steps to remove the tree stump

1.Start by using the chain saw or bow saw to cut the stump down as close to the ground as you can. Do not let the chain saw’s teeth to hit the ground since this will dull the chain. Be sure to wear steel-toed boots for safety.

2.Next, drill holes a few inches deep into the stump in several places. Make sure to use the biggest, widest drill bit you have. The wider and deeper holes, the better.

3.Now you will fill the holes first with water, then with the fertilizer high in nitrogen or stump-remover granules.

4.You will then need to soak the ground all around the stump. Cover the stump with a plastic tarp. The tarp will help to retain the moisture in and around the stump.

5.Now put down the mulch over the plastic tarp, and water it thoroughly. The mulch will help to hold additional moisture, keeping the area even wetter. The wet mulch is also heavy, which will help keep the tarp down. You could also roll some heavy stones onto the tarp.

6.Over the next few weeks, periodically remove the mulch and tarp and apply more water and nitrogen to the stump, then cover it again. Some patience is required here, as it can still take quite some time for the stump to completely rot away. But it will be considerably faster than the decay process normally occurs in nature.

7.After several weeks the stump will become soft and spongy enough to begin breaking it apart with an ax. Whatever wood you cannot break apart, should be treated again with water and nitrogen or the granules.  After some more time, you can simply bury what remains and let it complete the decay process underground.

Other Tips

Stump Out – this method is designed to break down the wood fiber of stumps, which leaves them porous. This porous wood then absorbs kerosene. After you soak the porous wood with kerosene, you can ignite it. Once ignited, it begins to burn away.

Grinder- it is possible for you to rent a stump grinder. You can rent this piece of equipment from a garden center, usually. The grinder will remove the stump in 3-inch sections each time it passes through the stump. You must know how to safely use the grinder and be sure to wear safety gear when operating it.

Major roots– these do not have to be removed once the main body of the stump is cut from the roots and removed. The roots will generally rot away naturally over time if they are buried deep underground.

Disposal – The disposal of large tree stumps can be tricky. You should check with your town for instructions on how and where to dispose of large garden waste items.


Trees are an integral part of our landscape. However, there are times when you may need to remove a tree; it could be decaying, have fallen down due to weather or simply be in the way. It is not hard to cut down a tree, but after it is down you will need to remove the stump as well. There are a few different ways that you can go about this by yourself with some tools and some time. The key to DIY stump removal is to have patience. Once the tree stump is removed, you can then landscape the area as you wish.

Tom Chandler

"When your hands hit the floor, they get cut up. When mine hit the floor, they slide with ease"

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