How To remove a tree stump

Felling a tree can be a daunting task but what about once the tree is cut? If you’ve taken down a tree and are wondering how to remove a tree stump then look no further; you’ll be taken through several methods of removing a stump below.

tree stump removal

Table of Contents

tree stump removal by hand

How to remove a tree stump by hand

If your tree stump is small enough, you should be able to remove it by hand. If you own; a saw, axe, a pick or sledgehammer, and a shovel; then it becomes much easier to split a small stump into sections for efficient removal.

There are two main ways to remove a small stump in this manner. The method you choose will depend on your overall aim; if you want to remove a stump for the appearance of your garden, then you don’t always need to remove the root systems.

1. Using the tools available, break up the above ground portion of the stump and remove it into sections.

2. Continue pulling away pieces of the stump until the exposed part is at least three inches below the level ground.

3. Pack mulch, compost, and turf on top of where the stump was. Make sure you allow adequate time for the turf to root before placing anything on top of the area.

4. As long as the stump’s roots aren’t shared with another tree, they should naturally decompose underground.

Completely removing a tree stump by hand

Alternatively, if you wish to keep the stump intact for DIY projects this should be done by hand as grinding, rotting, or otherwise degrading the stump will render the wood useless. This method takes more time and effort than the one above, but if you’re patient you’ll be rewarded with an excellent source of free timber.

1. Start by digging out the entire area around the tree stump. It’s best not to start too close to the stump as the roots will be wider spread than the above-ground tree. Using a shovel, pick, or other digging tools expose as many of the tree’s roots as you can.

2. Once most of the dirt has been shifted, sever any larger roots with an axe, shears, or saw. Go in around the stump in a circular manner, starting with the large troublesome roots, then snip any smaller roots that get in the way.

3. Using a pick, hoe, or likewise tool, begin pulling roots from the ground. Continue cutting any roots that cause issues – or attempt to dig them out if you want them attached. Once most of the roots are gone, you can then focus on removing the stump from your garden.

4. Using a shovel start digging the stump out of the ground; you may need to cut extra roots once you can start manoeuvring the stump. If possible, it may be easier to tether the stump to the back of a vehicle and pull it from the ground that way. Assistance is also helpful depending on the size of the stump.

5. Once the stump has been removed from the ground apply mulch, compost and turf. Just be aware the hole you’ll create using this method will be larger.

This method will allow you to upscale the stump into furniture or firewood, however, it is more costly in time and effort. It can also potentially destroy your garden depending on the scale of the roots/ efficiency of your tools.

tree sump removal by hand
tree stump removal

How to remove a tree stump using herbicides

A much simpler method is to fast-rot the stump using a herbicide to speed up the decomposition process. Using a chemical like potassium nitrate requires far less work, but takes anywhere from a couple of months to over a year to be fully effective.

1. To start, drill holes in the top of the stump and around the sides. Make sure these holes are at a downwards angle; as although some stump chemicals are advertised as not damaging to surrounding vegetation, they are generally poisonous.

2. Fill the holes bored into the trunk with your stump removal herbicide of choice. Then soak the stump and cover with a weighed down a tarp. This step is especially important if you live in a windy area.

3. Depending on the temperature – as well as the type and size of your tree stump – you should start to notice results after a few months. Once the trunk begins to feel spongy the herbicide is working.

4. Once the stump has had ample time to rot, it should be far easier to break up and dig away

Be aware of your surroundings. Tree stumps can act as home to many varieties of animals, which could not only be killed but also carry the poison elsewhere around your garden first.

Since the tree will be unattended for a great period of time, this method isn’t recommended in areas where children may play, or for people with pets. It may also be a good idea to leave herbicide treatment to the experts, so as not to risk poisoning the ground or surrounding vegetation.

You can also use epsom salt to remove a tree stump in a similar manner. This method is much more cost effective and doesn’t pose as much of a risk to the surrounding environment. However, if excess salt ends up on the ground, this can lower the PH balance of the soil which can also be fatal to some plants, as it affects the nutrients available.


Using a power grinder to remove a tree stump

If you’re wondering how to remove a tree stump quickly your best option is to rent a power grinder – an industrial tool that will obliterate the stump. If this is the option you settle on then you must read all instructions and safety precautions first.

Pros of power grinding a stump:
● Makes quick work of the stump
● Better for the environment than herbicides, epsom salt, or burning
● Less physical strain than removing a stump by hand

Cons of power grinding a stump:
● Requires prep (clearing rocks, tripping hazards, safety gear, clear weather, etc)
● Using a stump grinder is dangerous
● Renting a grinder can be costly at anywhere between £100 – £200

Make no mistake, despite being the quickest way to remove a tree stump using a power grinder can still take up the majority of your day. It’s important that you don’t apply weight to the grinder but rather guide it as it does its job, or risk severe injury.

To buy a power grinder outright you’re looking at spending between £1000 – £2000, at which point you’d be better off paying for a professional to do the work for you.

tree stump removal
tree surgeon Anglesey

Hiring a tree surgeon to remove the stump

If you don’t feel entirely comfortable performing any of the methods listed above then it’s always best to contact a professional. Especially when some of the methods involved are costly, time-consuming, and dangerous endeavours in the first place.

Tree surgeons are highly trained individuals who know how to remove a tree stump, as well as being qualified to wield power tools – like a stump grinder or chainsaw. Only attempt to use heavy tools or chemicals if you’re certain you have the relevant experience to handle the job, otherwise, it’s best to contact a professional tree surgeon like Man Coed.

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