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How to remove a tree stump

Learn how to effectively remove a tree stump and take back your garden. With step-by-step guides to eradicate tree stumps using fire, chemicals and more.

Tree stump ready for removalA natural feature or an eyesore, tree stumps can be seen in two opposing ways. Some people use tree stumps to enhance their garden aesthetic or as a fun way to step across their lawn.

On the other side of the scale, however, a tree stump can be thought of as an annoying obstacle that needs to be removed straight away. If that’s the case for you, you will want to consider your options carefully.

Firstly, it’s a relatively simple task to kill off a tree stump with easy to purchase materials but often the real challenge is actually physically removing the tree stump.

How to remove a tree stump and roots

It is a good idea to remove tree stump roots as well as the stump itself. If left, they will decay over time and may cause future issues. Learning how to remove a tree stump and roots is a great life skill that may be used repeatedly and is worth the invested time.

One of the best ways to remove your tree stump and its roots is to use a grinder. Ensure you use the proper protection, including:

  • Goggles
  • Ear protection
  • Gloves
  • Strong footwear

Then, follow these steps:

  1. Hire or buy a grinder and check the manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure you are using it correctly.
  2. Begin grinding the tree stump.
  3. Keep the grinder moving around the stump to ensure it reaches the roots.
  4. Using a shovel, remove the ground-up wood.
  5. Fill the hole with sawdust to prevent any issues down the line.

How to remove a tree stump without a grinder

While using a grinder can be a fun and efficient way of removing a tree stump, hiring or buying one can be costly. There are several excellent options for anyone who is wondering how to remove a tree stump without a grinder. These can include:

  • Fire
  • Chemicals
  • Epsom salts
  • By hand
  • Chainsaw

Each method has its pros and cons. For instance, using a chainsaw can be dangerous and a little terrifying, while using fire may be restricted in your area. Read on to learn more about each of these methods.

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How to remove a tree stump by hand

One of the ways to dig out a tree stump without using an expensive grinder is to do it by hand. Although frustratingly, it can be time-consuming and arduous work.

Want to learn how to remove a tree stump by hand? Firstly, gather your tools and materials. In addition to your protective equipment, you will need the following:

  • Shovel
  • Loppers
  • Grub hoe
  • Axe
  • Sawdust to fill the empty hole
  • Protective goggles
  • Protective gloves
  • Protective shoes

Then, follow these steps:

  1. Begin by uncovering the roots around the stump with a shovel. Ensure you completely expose the roots, removing any soil surrounding them.
  2. Using the loppers, start chopping up the roots. Make sure the pieces are small enough to be easily removed. You can also use an axe at this point if the roots are thick and stubborn. If you do use an axe, be wary of hitting any stones.
  3. Next, pull any deep roots free with a grub hoe. Please note, you may need to keep using the loppers to chop up the roots as you go.
  4. It should now be possible to dig out the stump using your shovel. If this feels impossible, you may need to dig more roots out before removing the stump.
  5. Finally, use sawdust to fill the hole left behind.
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Chainsaw removal of tree stumpHow to remove a tree stump with a chainsaw

If you are feeling brave, using a chainsaw can be an effective way of removing a stump. Annoyingly, it’s worth noting that using your chainsaw in this way can blunt the chain and accidentally hitting a rock may break the chainsaw.

Figuring out how to remove a tree stump with a chainsaw can be done by simply following the below steps:

  1. Use a shovel to remove any soil around the stump.
  2. Take as much off the top of the stump as possible.
  3. Use the chainsaw to cut up the stump into sections using a crisscrossing pattern. Go down to approximately 5 inches below ground level.
  4. Cover the hole with soil and grass.

How to remove a tree stump with fire

Using fire can be extremely dangerous if you are not careful and don’t take precautions. You must be confident you know what you are doing. If you are confident with the safety aspects, then use the below steps to learn how to remove a tree stump with fire safely:

  1. Ensure your tree stump is dry enough to burn. If your tree has only just been removed, you will need to wait approximately one and a half years before burning the stump.
  2. To keep the fire under control, ensure all flammable debris is out of the proximity of the stump (at least two metres away) before beginning. Also, be sure to have a fire extinguisher on hand in case the fire spreads.
  3. Drill holes of 8 – 10 inches into the top and sides of the stump with a power drill.
  4. Fill the holes with kerosene or diesel and allow the liquid to sit in the stump for over an hour. Next, add a little extra fluid to the holes.
  5. Use a long stick to prevent you from needing to get too close and light the stump on fire.
  6. You will likely need to keep lighting the stump again for up to 24 hours until the stump is completely burnt.
  7. The remains can then be removed.

How to remove a tree stump with Epsom salt

Perfect for relaxing baths and soothing aching muscles, Epsom salt is an effective treatment option. However, you may not be aware that Epsom salt is incredibly versatile and can be used in many applications.

This is why it may come as a surprise to you just how many people search for the term ‘how to remove a tree stump with Epsom salt’. This is not an old wife’s tale and can be an excellent, affordable choice when dealing with an unwanted tree stump. Continue reading for our step-by-step guide to using the soaking method:

  1. Dig out the stump roots, so they are exposed.
  2. Combine around a gallon of salt with approximately two gallons of water.
  3. Cover the stump and all the visible roots with the liquid.
  4. Keep the stump covered up and reapply the salt and water once a week.
  5. Once the stump is completely dried out, you can dig this out of the ground and dispose of it.
  6. Fill the hole with soil and sprinkle grass seeds over the top.

How to remove a tree stump with chemicals

Stump killing chemicals such as Roundup Super Concentrate Tree Stump and Root Killer work to stop the stump from growing and then soften it up for easy removal. You may not be keen on this method if you have children and animals who may come into contact with the chemicals, so one of the above options may better fit your requirements.

Want to learn how to remove a tree’s stump with chemicals? Read on:

  1. Use a power drill to make holes in the stump. This will help with absorption.
  2. Pour the chemicals into the stump holes. Always follow any guidelines that come with your particular stump killer.
  3. Make sure if you do have children or animals, they don’t go anywhere near the chemicals.
  4. Keep an eye on the decomposition of the stump. You can start removing the stump when it has sufficiently softened.
  5. Using an axe, cut sections off the stump and remove these as you go.
  6. Please note you can also set the remains of the stump on fire to make disposal easier.
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Axe for tree stump removalHiring a professional

If at any point during the tree stump removal process you feel like you are in over your head, do not hesitate to call in a professional tree surgeon. Removing a tree stump can be tricky and dangerous if not done safely, so hiring a tradesperson will ensure the job is done safely.

There is no shame in hiring a professional. In fact, you may even learn how to remove a tree stump correctly by watching and asking questions. A tradesperson will also get the job done quicker and more efficiently, saving you time and energy.

If you are considering hiring a tree surgeon and want to know more, please see our tree removal cost guide or our tree removal project guide. You can also use our free search feature to find an approved tree surgeon in your area.

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What about trees and tree stumps located close to my home?

You will need to be extra cautious when removing trees and stumps from close to your home due to heave. This is where a tree is removed in close proximity to your home. As the roots are no longer using the soil’s moisture, they can become waterlogged and affect the stability of your foundations. If this is a potential issue, speaking to a professional would be the best solution.

What is the fastest way to remove a tree stump?

The fastest method is to hire a professional to grind the stump. A slower, more affordable approach is using the Epsom salt technique outlined a few paragraphs above.

How quick is it to remove a stump with a stump grinder?

It will depend on the size of the stump but could take up to two hours.

Do I need to remove a tree stump?

You always have the option of leaving the stump alone if it fits in with your garden’s aesthetics. But bear in mind that living stumps can produce unsightly suckers (new shoots), or dead stumps can rot and become diseased.

Do I need to prepare the stump before removal?

Other than the steps above, you will only need to move any plants away from the area to protect them.

Do tree roots keep growing after you cut down the tree?

Killing a tree won’t necessarily kill the roots. Once destroyed,  aggressive growing trees may still have some life in their roots, but this is unlikely to cause any ongoing issues. Once a tree has been removed, most of the roots will begin to decompose naturally. However, if the roots are extensive, then the ground above them may sink. In this circumstance, simply fill the hole with grass and soil to level the surface back out.

What can you use to kill tree roots?

There are a number of ways to kill off tree roots, some natural and some chemical-based. To start with, it’s essential to cut the tree stump down, so it’s level with the ground. Next, remove the top layer of soil to expose the entire base of the tree. At this point, you can drill holes into the top of the tree stump and add your chosen mixture to it. You can use a chemical concentrate, like Roundup Super Concentrate Tree Stump and Root Killer or a natural alternative.

Stump removal takeaways

  • You can remove a tree stump with chemicals, fire or a grinder.
  • Larger tree stumps can take longer to remove.
  • Tree stumps can become diseased and rot if left.
  • Using Epsom salts is the cheapest option and hiring or buying a grinder is the most expensive.

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