Stump removal can be a tedious task if you don’t know how to do it. We remember our first time like it was yesterday. Awkwardly hitting it with an axe, and jabbing at it with a shovel. Luckily for you, we’re here to help you answer the question “how to remove a tree stump?!”
Many people who have their trees removed, decline to pay the have the stump removed, as it can be costly due to the equipment the arborist may use. While it’s true that stump removal is often more involved, which is why it’s not usually included in the removal of a tree, it’s still doable to do yourself.
There are a few methods that can be done to remove a stump from the ground. If you have the time, you can remove a stump!
Table Of Contents For This Post
Why Someone Would Want To Remove A Stump
To offset the cost of having a tree removed, people often defer the reason to remove a tree stump on their own.
Sure, you can decoratively dress the stump up and turn it into a picnic table (like my parents did at their home), but in the end they’re just stumps.
They are hazardous. While larger trees have bigger stumps that you really can’t miss. It’s easy to forget about a smaller stump that’s hidden by high grass or weeds and trip over them. You may laugh, but I consider myself one of those victims….
They take up space. We’ve just had a large tree removed and I couldn’t imagine leaving the stump in our yard. People like me want to have the clearest yards possible. Our particular stump was unsightly and the roots spanned across at least a third of our yard. Having as much as possible removed, allows us to plant grass and get a larger more lush yard.
Stumps are ugly. Apart from the taking up space complaint, a tree stump is nothing more than a tree that was cut-down. It’s an eyesore looking out into the yard and seeing nothing more than an old dirty stump sticking out of the ground.
Tree Stump Removal
There are multiple ways to remove a tree stump from the ground. From removing it by hand, to using removal equipment and everything in between, our comprehensive list below explores all the options!
Removing The Tree Stump By Hand
We would recommend that if you’re going to remove a tree stump by hand – to focus on small to even small-medium size stumps. This is a very arduous and physically taxing process if you’re not use to excessive work. This process also works if the tree stump is dry-rotted or diseased, as a tree in these conditions are easier to cut through.
Tools needed to remove a stump by hand: Chainsaw, limbing saw (optional if you have a chainsaw), digging bar, shovel, ax, and a pick mattock. Some sites also recommend a truck and some chain (while this is possible and you can remove a stump via a vehicle, we consider this a nuclear option, and to exercise total caution when doing it).
- Using the chainsaw, cut any access limbs off of the stump.
- Still using the chainsaw, trim the stump close to the ground, but high enough to give you leverage to push, pull, or wrap a chain around if need be.
- Reveal or remove the roots around the stump by using a shovel, a digging bar, or a pick mattock.
- Once you feel you have removed all of the exposed roots try pushing the trunk. If more roots expose themselves, continue to remove and push the trunk back and forth until the trunk is completely uprooted.
- Nuclear Option:
- If you can’t budge the trunk, or it feels like it won’t uproot. Wrap the chain around it where you left leverage initially, and connect it to a truck
- Slowly pull forward and slowly reverse until the trunk is uprooted from the ground. (exercise caution!)
Burning Out A Tree Stump
Probably one of the most cost-effective ways to remove a tree stump. You could just use gas to burn it down, and fill the hole with dirt!
Tools needed to remove a tree stump by fire: ax, chainsaw, a drill, long drill bit (.5 to 1 inch width extended drill bit – click here to see view our recommendation from Amazon), potassium nitrate, and gasoline or kerosene.
- Using your drill and drill bit, drill a hole in the center of the tree stump, 8 to 10 inches deep.
- Make sure to clean all of the debris out of the drilled hole.
- Continue drilling holes around your center hole, leaving about one inch between the holes.
- Scoop the potassium nitrate into each drilled hole.
- Pour hot water into each of the drilled holes. Continue to pour hot water into the holes until the potassium nitrate has completely dissolved.
- Cover the top of the stump with scrap wood from the earlier tree removal.
- Use small amounts of gas or kerosene to start the fire and continue until the stump can remain ignited.
- Keep the fire going until the stump is charred and can easily be broken down.
- Use the shovel to break apart the stump.
- Fill the hole with dirt to completely cover the stump.
Rotting The Tree Stump
Like burning out a tree stump, rotting is similar just requires more than one day to complete.
- Using the drill and drill bit, drill holes throughout the stump 8 to 10 inches deep.
- Begin filling the holes with a stump removal compound (Spectracide Stump Remover is our recommendation).
- Follow the directions using the stump remover compound.
- Chip off pieces of the stump as it gradually softens over time.
- Fill the stump hole with dirt as needed.
Removing The Stump Using Stump Killer or Chemicals
While similar to burning a stump out of the ground. Introducing chemicals into the mix can help reduce your manual labor time when removing a stump.
Tools needed to remove a tree stump with stump killer or chemicals: potassium nitrate, ax, chainsaw, a drill, and a long drill bit (.5 to 1 inch width extended drill bit – click here to see view our recommendation from Amazon)
- Use the chainsaw to remove as much of the stump as possible.
- Using the drill and the extra-long drill bit, drill holes around the perimeter of the tree stump. Move inward 3 to 4 inches and drill more holes. For ideal depth you want to drill around 7-10 inches deep depending on size of the tree stump.
- Using the drill, drill 45 degree angled holes on the sides of the tree stump so they meet with the previous holes drilled from the top.
- Begin pouring the potassium nitrate into the drilled holes. Use liberal amounts when doing this.
- After you have poured the potassium nitrate, begin filling the holes with water.
- Wait 4 to 6 weeks, or until the stump becomes spongy.
- Break up the stump with an ax and remove the debris.
Grinding The Stump Yourself
Finally, if you’d like to feel like Tim Taylor, and you want to get rid of the stumps in a short amount of time, renting a tree grinder may be right for you.
These stump grinding machines can be rented from all kinds of places like big box stores, garden centers, and even landscapers. The real prohibitive thing when it comes to using a stump grinder is the cost. Which can be anywhere from $100 to $300 to rent for a single day. Factoring it with the time you’re going to spend cleaning it up, this option may make you realize that having the tree removal company to remove the stump is worth it too (expect to still have to clean up the mulch).
Reminder, the following steps are at your own risk. Stump grinders are large pieces of equipment that are not meant to be taken lightly. A simple mistake with a stump grinder can be a very costly one to the person using it. Make sure you’re using protective goggles and clothes. When using a grinder, wood chips and debris will fly.
Grinding The Stump How-To
Along with the grinder you’re going to want to grab a chainsaw, shovel, a mattock, and a rake.
- Clear the area from rocks and loose debris around the tree stump.
- Use the chainsaw to cut the stump as low to ground as possible.
- Read the instructions on to operate the stump grinder you’ve rented. Our recommendation is to make sure that you grind the stump down to 4 inches underneath ground level.
- Make sure to move slow, and be aware of your surroundings at all time when using the stump grinder. Follow the previous step until the entire stump can be covered with 4 inches of dirt.
- Clean up the debris left from using the stump grinder and if you’re preparing to plant grass, click here to follow our guide to planting grass.
So there you have it. There’s always more ways than one to accomplish your goal. If you have any tips, ticks, or ideas – please comment below!