One of the tricky parts of DIY tree removal is the stump, especially for a large tree. Today I have the information you need if you’re faced with how to remove a tree stump from your yard. It is possible to rent out a grinder, but it can be even trickier to haul it out to your property and run it yourself. So if you don’t want to rent a grinder, I’ll show you some other ways to deal with that annoying stump.
How to Remove a Tree Stump
There are a few things to do with a tree stump. Some gardeners simply decide to deal with the stump and turn it into part of the landscape, like so:
But assuming you’ve ruled out this make-the-best-of-it situation, let’s move on to the methods you can use to remove a tree stump.
How to Remove a Stump with Manual Labor
If you’re not above a bit of manual labor, you can dig out the tree stump yourself using a shovel and/or a pickaxe. But this is definitely more doable for a small tree! You need to dig until you expose the entire root ball, as well as the tap root at the bottom. Once you have exposed the tap root, cut it off with a bow saw or an axe. Pull out the root ball and backfill the hole.
How to Remove a Tree Stump with Chemicals
All wood, even tree stumps, will eventually rot away, but it takes years. You can speed up this process with a high nitrogen fertilizer. This is helpful for tree stumps that are too large to manually dig out yourself, or too big and expensive to hire out. Here’s how to do it:
- Drill some holes into the top of the stump using a drill and the largest bit you have. Make sure you go at least a few inches into the stump.
- Now use a chainsaw or bow saw to cut into the center of the stump. Go all the way to ground level.
- Fill your drilled holes with water.
- Now add a high nitrogen fertilizer to the drilled holes.
- Use a garden hose to thoroughly soak the ground all around the outside of the tree stump.
- Once you thoroughly saturate the ground, cover the tree stump with a tarp.
- Cover the tarp with 1-2 inches of organic mulch. Soak the mulch with water. This helps weigh down the tarp and holds moisture in and around the tree stump. The moisture helps the high nitrogen fertilizer do its job.
- Every couple of weeks, move the mulch and tarp aside and re-wet the ground around the stump. Recover and wet the mulch as well.
- In about 6 weeks, you might find that the stump is soft and spongy enough to start digging it out. Any part of the stump that remains hard should be re-treated with the high nitrogen fertilizer, wet down, and re-covered.
- After enough of the tree stump has rotted away, you can bury what’s left and let it continue to rot away underground.
Another option is using diesel fuel. As above, drill holes in the tree stump and pour in diesel fuel (while being careful not to spill it). This treatment will work without the tarp and mulch. After a couple of years, the stump will dry rot and can easily be broken apart.
And if all else fails, find someone with the heavy machinery to dig out a large stump for you, or get some of those pretty pink flowers and make the best of it!