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How To Remove a Tree Stump in The Best Possible Way?

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Are Tree Stumps A Problem?

Trees and tree stumps are part of the natural scenery, and one should learn to enjoy them as they are. However, there are times when it becomes necessary to cut a tree.

Many people kill or cut a tree but leave the stump. Sometimes it is alright to let it be, but there are times when the tree stump can become a big nuisance!

My parents live in a beautiful house with many large trees all around. Unfortunately, a large number of trees were damaged in a severe storm.

One tree fell on the side of the garage and just missed their car! They called professionals for removing the trees who quoted a big amount! So, my father decided to get only the trees removed by them.

He then asked me to help him with the tree stumps, and both of us managed to get the tree stumps out, though it did take quite some time.

How To Remove a Tree Stump

We spent a lot of time first reading and then asking people about the best ways to remove stumps. There were several options available, and we decided to try them on different tree stumps.

This is the reason I can give you some pointers when it comes to tree stump removal. Read on to find how you can use a suitable way of removing tree stumps.

When to Remove A Tree Stump?

There is a saying “let sleeping dogs lie,” which suits tree stumps as well! There is no point in putting a lot of effort and money unless it is necessary to remove a tree stump. So, when should you take this step?

  • When you need to plant something else after removing the stump
  • When it is an eyesore
  • When its roots are still spreading underground
  • When it is in an unsuitable location
  • When its roots are dangerous to the structure of your home
  • When its roots are getting tangled and clogging the sewage and water pipes
  • When it is interfering with the growth of other plants and trees
  • When it has sharp or rough edges which can be dangerous
  • When you want to use the stump as a decorative piece or a piece of furniture.

What Do You Need?

There are many ways you can remove a tree stump. Some trees are easy to remove, while some are not so easy. Mainly it depends on the type of tree.

Pine trees have broad, flat, and shallow roots which are easy to remove. Deciduous trees have deep and strong roots, which are not very easy to remove.

For different trees, you need different methods, and, for different methods, you need different things. We have listed some of these.

  • Shovel: you will need this for digging as well for removing the ashes or grindings.
  • Ax: you will need this to cut and chop the roots and stump. Use a sharp and strong ax; otherwise, it may get stuck.
  • Chainsaw: for cutting large pieces, this is a better option. It is a powerful tool, and you must use it with caution.
  • Rope: once you have cut the roots and you need to pull out the stump, then tie it with a rope and secure it well. If you have enough manpower, you can pull it out, or you can use a tractor to pull it out.
  • Stump Grinder: this is one of the best ways to remove a stump. It can completely grind both stump and its roots without much problem. Wear goggles and earmuffs while using it and avoid getting any splinter or shrapnel getting into your eyes.
  • Hoe: This is useful when it comes to digging out roots from a depth. You must get all roots out.
  • Diesel: When you burn the stump, you can add diesel or kerosene for the fire to catch.
  • Stump Remover/ chemicals: there are specific stump removers available in the market, which will help you killing or rotting a stump. After this, its removal is easy.
  • Tractor: you can use a tractor for pulling out a stump, especially if it is a large one.
  • Safety Goggles: safety gear is a must for any outdoor job like this one. Goggles will prevent any mishap.
  • Ear Muffs: both chainsaw and stump grinders are noisy machines. Using ear muffs will protect your ears, especially if you are going to work for a long time.
  • Safety Clothes & Gloves: do take precautions when you are handling chemicals of any kind. Wear full safety gear, and don’t forget some sturdy gloves to protect your hands.

How Do You Select One Method?

There is more than one way to remove a tree stump, and you need to consider the following before deciding.

  • Type of tree: this is very important because different trees have different kinds of roots. You need to assess the root system carefully to decide the method f removal.
  • Age: as trees age, their roots become like a widespread network. They go more in-depth, wider, and become more entrenched in the ground. A young tree s always easier to remove.
  • Size: if the stump is in a paved area, then its size may be small and contained, but in an open area, the same tree may grow to a bigger size. Look at the size of the stump and then decide the method.
  • The number of stumps to be removed: if you need to take out a large number of stumps, then you cannot dig and remove each one manually. If you don’t have any time constraints, then it is alright otherwise, you will need help.

How To Remove a Tree Stump

When it came to the trees on my father’s farm, we were lucky to have a lot of time on our hands and could try different things. However, this is not the case always. It is better to prepare and plan and be sure of what you need to do. Here are a few of the options that may suit your needs.

Manual Removal

This is the traditional way of removing a tree stump. This is what you need to do:

Manual Remove Tree Stumps - How To Remove a Tree Stump
  • Use a shovel to dig around the stump. The aim is to expose the roots as much as possible.
  • Go all around and dig extensively to expose all the major roots. You may have to dig deep.
  • This method works well when you can uncover the roots almost to their tips.
  • Now start cutting the roots into smaller pieces.
  • Depending on the size, you can use a saw or an ax.
  • Pull out what you can and toss the pieces aside.
  • Use an ax only if you know how to use it, and it is sharp and strong enough to do the job.
  • You can use a hoe to pull out the remaining roots. Some roots are entrenched deep and may require efforts on your part to pull them out.
  • As you pull them out, keep cutting them to make it easier to pull them out.
  • Continue doing this till you have cleared all the major roots.
  • Now, it is the turn of the stump. Use a shovel to dig under it.
  • If it is too large, then tie a rope around it and use a tractor to pull it out.
  • There may still be some rots underneath the stump. Cut them off.
  • Remove the stump and either chop it into pieces or keep it aside for any other use.
  • The final step is filling the hole. You can use sawdust or soil to fill the hole and pack it up well. You may need to top it up periodically; otherwise, there could be a big dent in the ground.

Stump Grinder

When you have a large number of stumps and not much time, then this is the best option. It is a powerful machine and quite expensive. You can hire one to do the job.

Stump Grinder at works - How To Remove a Tree Stump
  • Depending on the number of stumps that you need to remove, you can either buy or hire a stump grinder.
  • If you are not confident about using it yourself, it is better to hire a professional to do the job.
  • If you are going to use it, then wear proper safety gear, including goggles and earmuffs.
  • Follow the instructions thoroughly to get better results.
  • Place it on top of the stump and start grinding. Don’t be in a hurry and do it properly.
  • Once you finish grinding the stump, you can move on to the roots.
  • Be very thorough and take care of any aerial roots coming out of the sides.
  • Remove all the grindings and keep them aside. Use a shovel to remove it and dispose of it in any way you want.
  • Fill up the hole with loam or sawdust and continue monitoring the area for any depressions.
  • You gave to give some time to the ground to heal fully.

Burn The Stump

  • This is only possible if there are no fire restrictions in your area. Make sure that you follow all regulations and also follow all safety instructions.
  • You have to build a fire on top of the stump. Place the wood on top and surround the stump.
  • It is a long process, and once you build a fire you will have to monitor it regularly.
  • Keep adding more wood to keep it burning till the stump burns to the ground.
  • Once the stump catches fire fully, make sure its roots also burn.
  • Use a shovel to remove the ash from the hole and dispose of it.
  • Again fill the hole and keep adding soil for the next few months whenever you see it sinking.

Stump Remover

Some chemicals will kill or rot the stump and make it easy for you to remove it from the ground.

  • Drill holes in the stump. You will have to make deep holes, so use large drill bits. Keep the holes evenly spaced.
  • Pour stump remover into the holes. Most stump removers have potassium nitrate, which softens the wood and rots it quickly.
  • Follow all instructions given with the product.
  • Any toxic chemical is bad for health, and so is this. Keep children and pets away from the area when you carry out the work.
  • Within a few weeks, you will notice the softening of the wood. Keep checking regularly.
  • When you think it is at the right softness, use an ax to chop up the stump. Remove the pieces till you can level the stump.
  • You can burn any leftover stump and burn it down.
  • Once it is gone completely, replace the hole with fillers like soil, sawdust, loam, etc.

There are many other methods of rotting and killing the stump before removing it. You can use:

  • Bleach: it is inexpensive and easily available. Many people prefer this because a bleached tree stump looks lovely as a table or a garden decoration.
  • Diesel: it is easy to use. It is better to add sugar to it to get better results.
  • Herbicide: if you can get a specific herbicide that can target your stump, then it is best. Some herbicides are organic and non-toxic if you want that option.
  • Plastic or tarp sheets: this is an easy way to kill or rot a stump. Just cut off water or sunlight completely by covering it with a dark plastic sheet or tarp. It takes a long time, but it is a simple method.
  • Epsom salt: an inexpensive and easy way to kill a tree. It may make the soil unhealthy for other plants, so think carefully before using it.
  • Fertilizers: this is also a natural way to rot a stump. Just pile up fertilizers all around it. The microorganisms will do the rest of the job.

You may use any of these depending on your comfort level and level of contamination of surrounding areas. Once the stump is dead, you can remove it using any method of your preference.

What to Do With The Tree Stump?

Your choice of method will also depend on what you intend to do with the stump. Many people like to use stumps in innovative ways. You can use them as

  • Tables
  • Chairs
  • Stools
  • Potholders
  • Decorative pieces
Tree Stumps Ideas - How To Remove a Tree Stump

There are so many ideas on the internet, and you can let your imagination soar. Many people can do a good enough job to even make a living out of it!

Disposing of a stump is not always easy.

  • Get someone to take it away.
  • Chop it and use it as firewood
  • Pay for professional removal
  • Use it as sponge under the ground for other plants on top. It will soak up moisture and keep the plants healthy and hydrated.
  • Large tree stumps are difficult to dispose of. You must take permission from your local waste authorities about where and how to dispose of large garden waste.


Sometimes killing or cutting a tree is not as difficult as removing its stump! It is even more so when it is deeply embedded in the ground and spread wide.

Deciding to get a stump out is only the first step. Next comes the critical act of choosing the right method. I have tried all these methods and even a few more because I had the time, and there were no worries about any other issues.

I know that you cannot spend so much time on removing a tree stump and don’t want to do a trial and error job! This is the reason I have shared all this information with you.

I am sure that you will find it useful and helpful. If you get good results, then do share this information with friends and family facing a similar situation.

If you want to add to the information or have any suggestions for us, then do write to us. I will be happy to incorporate it.

Feel free to clarify any doubts, and you can ask questions which we will be glad to answer. With the right information and the right tools removing a tree stump is as easy as a walk in the park!!