How To Get Rid Of Tree Stumps: Fastest Tree Stump Removal Methods. Chainsaw stump removal
How To Get Rid Of Tree Stumps: Fastest Tree Stump Removal Methods
Everyone needs to know how to get rid of tree stumps at some point or other.
Whether it’s a small stump only a few inches wide or a large 10-foot wide stump, there are things you can do to remove it immediately or cause it to rot away faster than it naturally would.
We have literally hundreds of tree stumps on our property. That’s because our land was covered in pine, gum, and macrocarpa trees less than 10 years ago. Most of the stumps we’ve left to rot, but some of them we wanted out quickly.
Here’s how we removed a range of different stumps.
How To Remove A Tree Stump
Before we get started, always consider whether or not the tree stump really needs to come out immediately.
If it’s not an eyesore in the middle of your lawn, it will rot away in time, no matter how big it is. And in the meantime, it will become a great habitat for many creatures.
We have left many of our stumps to simply rot away with time. They are now full of spiders, lizards, huhu grubs (pictured below), and all sorts of other creepy crawlies. Not to mention funguses and mushrooms.
Also, the naturally broken down stump and roots return to the earth and become good fertilizer. The other benefit ours had, because many were on slopes, was continuing to hold up banks and prevent slips.
BUT, if you want them gone, here are 7 great methods for doing so, from fastest to slowest (or thereabouts)!
The quickest way to remove a tree stump is to have an excavator pull it out.
Usually, in order for this to be possible, you need to leave a taller-than-usual stump for the excavator to grab onto and pull. However, some can be fitted with a different bit for digging stumps out of the ground instead.
Depending on the size of your tree, this may require a heavy digger, rather than a small one that anyone can hire out.
We recently had a heavy excavator remove a large stand of trees. The trees were a good wind break but they were blocking the sun from the house.
We hired some contractors to do the job, and the machine was able to very quickly put the trees down with a pinching device, and then rip the large stump out from the ground.
This is by far the fastest way to remove a stump, as the job is done in a matter of minutes, or even seconds, depending on the size of the stump.
A stump grinder is the next fastest way to remove a tree stump.
These machines tear into tree stumps with a spinning wheel of carbide-tipped teeth. They turn tree stumps into sawdust and woodchips.
A stump grinder doesn’t just take the stump down to ground level but will go as deep as needed. It will remove the stump, the roots, and any other debris.
How long does it take to remove a tree stump with a grinder?
That really depends on the machine you’re using and the type of stump.
Softwood stumps will be removed far faster than hardwood stumps, and a top-of-the-line stump grinder will work faster than a cheap stump grinder.
However, even a difficult stump can be removed within a matter of hours with a small stump grinder. A professional will have the stump gone much quicker than that.
Check out these tips on how to grow grass after stump removal because it’s not as straightforward as you might think!
A chainsaw can be used to cut a stump down very close to the ground.
Then, if you have an old bar and chain you don’t care too much about, you can dig out around the stump as much as possible, and even cut the stump below the ground.
Dirt, stones, gravel, etc. ruins chains, so it’s not something you want to do with good gear, but if you’ve got an old chain, you can get a lot of a stump out with a saw.
Once you’ve removed as much as you can with the chainsaw horizontally, cut down into the stump vertically to allow water down into the stump. This will cause the stump to rot out very quickly, especially if it’s below the soil line.
The problem with this method is that you’ll be unlikely to grow grass or anything else on top for quite some time. The stump hasn’t been removed, just lowered, and a lot of the roots will remain.
Another method is to burn stumps out with fire!
We did this with some of the stumps on our property, and while it wasn’t always that successful, it speed the removal process up a lot. The stumps that were burnt ended up rotting away far sooner than those that weren’t.
There are many ways to go about burning out a stump. It’s worthwhile watching a few videos on YouTube before giving it a go.
- Drill down into the stump (requires a large, long drill bit)
- Drill into the stump horizontally from the sides
- Pour a flammable substance down into the hole
- Light the stump
You can then put other branches, logs, and flammable debris on top of the stump to keep the fire burning well.
Fire needs fuel, oxygen, and heat to continue burning, so do what you can to provide those elements.
Stump Removal #stumpgrinding #tree #landscape
The downside of burning out a stump is that it won’t work for a fresh stump, as it will likely be too full of sap and the wood will be very wet. Also, you need to closely monitor the fire and they can burn for days.
The benefit is that even if the stump isn’t completely burned out, it will be far less likely to try and regrow – one of the most annoying things with some stumps.
Axe/Maul And Digging Bar
I’ve removed many small tree stumps using only an axe and a digging bar.
While it’s not the best application for your axe or maul (because it dulls them), they are great at cutting roots in order to pry out the stump.
I have an old axe that’s past its best before. That’s what I use for these types of rough jobs rather than my splitting maul pictured above.
It’s not a method for removing large stumps, but with little ones, you just need to cut the roots which then makes the stump much easier to pry out with a heavy digging bar.
Shovel And Reciprocating Saw
Similar to the last suggestion, this video shows how to manually remove a stump using a shovel and reciprocating saw.
First, dig around the stump as much as possible and expose the roots. Once the roots are free and clear, cut them using loppers, a garden saw, an iron digging bar, or a reciprocating saw.
The latter will obviously be a lot faster!
Removing stumps is all about getting rid of the roots – they are what is holding the stump in there. Once the roots are gone the stump can be rolled out.
Drilling holes into your stumps will cause them to break down very quickly.
The water can get inside the stump which will rot it from the inside out. They get to a point, as with many of our stumps, where you can kick them and they just crumble.
Depending on the size of your stump, it can take years for them to break down. The tree stump pictured above lost its top (ie. the rest of the tree) about 5 years ago.
The holes in it are all natural – made by insects – so it would have got to that point far sooner if I’d made artificial holes in the stump when they were cut down.
Ultimately, whatever you can do to expose more of the stump to the elements, do that. It will hasten the stump’s demise.
- Using a chainsaw to make cuts in the surface of the stump
- Banging copper nails into the stump (copper is said to speed up the process)
- Removing the bark from around the outside of the trunk
Or even damaging/removing roots without touching the stump will also make it rot away faster.
How To Kill a Tree Stump
From home remedies to professional solutions, here’s everything you need to know about getting rid of a tree stump in your yard.
Cutting down trees in your yard is a great way to improve the natural lighting for other plants and make way for new trees to grow. If you’ve removed a tree in your yard, you know how pesky its leftover stump can be.
While you could leave it alone, it could start to grow, sprouting annoying shoots from its roots, or it may take years to naturally rot and decompose. Try the following techniques to kill the tree stump and remove it from your yard or find a tree removal expert to take care of it for you.
Home Remedies for Tree Stump Removal
Here are a few ways you can get rid of a tree stump before getting your hands dirty with physical removal.
- Drill deep holes in the stump about an inch wide with a power drill and a wide drill bit.
- Sprinkle the stump with water after covering the top of the stump with Epsom salt.
- Cover the stump with a tarp to keep the rain from washing away the substance.
- Repeat this process every few weeks to ensure its success.
If this process is successful, the stump will die within two to three months and be close to full decay after a year. This is a great solution for homeowners who want a slower, natural approach to killing their tree stump.
Similar to Epsom salt, rock salt can help kill and decay a stump with minimal effort. Here’s how to kill a tree stump with rock salt:
- Drill holes into the stump.
- Pack the holes with rock salt.
- After all of the holes are packed and the stump is covered in salt, pour soil and mulch over the stump.
- Then, pour water over the mulch—this will dissolve the salt, help the roots absorb the solution, and pack the soil.
Keep watering the stump every few days for one to two months to keep the stump moist with the saltwater solution, promoting absorption and the growth of fungi that can accelerate the stump’s decomposition. You can also add a potassium nitrate fertilizer to further support the growing fungi.
Plastic Bag or Tarp
Perhaps the easiest method to kill a tree stump is forcing darkness on it. Without sunlight, the tree stump will die, accelerating the decomposition process. Rotting should start to take place in two to three months.
Here’s how to kill a tree stump with a plastic bag or tarp:
- Similar to other methods, cut the stump as close to the roots as possible with a chainsaw, hatchet, or handsaw.
- Cover the stump with a black trash bag.
- Weigh the bag down with heavy rocks or bricks. For a smaller stump, use a dark-colored bucket or container to cover the stump.
This technique requires little to no effort, but it can be slower compared with the physical removal methods.
You don’t need to purchase any substance or solution to try this remedy—all you need is hot water.
- Expose as much of the stump’s root structure as possible.
- Drill holes into the roots and on top of the stump—this will help the scalding water reach as much of the root system as possible and kill the roots with heat.
- Once all the roots are exposed, pour boiling water over them. The heat from the water will shock the root system, severely damaging it and killing it.
Once the stump and roots are dead, the natural decomposition process can begin.
Techniques To Physically Remove a Tree Stump
If you have the time and resources to use physical methods to kill and remove your tree stump, consider the following techniques. Compared to home remedies, they are much quicker but take a bit more effort, tools, and money to perform.
Use Fire To Kill a Tree Stump
Use some kindling or kerosene to burn the stump so that it doesn’t protrude from the ground. This method will kill the tree, but it won’t completely get rid of the tree roots and stump. Keep in mind that this may not be an option if you live in an area with a dry climate that’s prone to wildfires. Check with your local fire department to see if burning a tree stump falls in line with the local fire code. Once you have approval to burn your tree stump, there are a few ways you can move forward. You can drill holes into the trunk, pour kerosene into each hole, light scrap wood on the surface of the stump, and carefully monitor the wood as it burns. This method is slower, but it burns the wood from deeper within the stump. You can also cut criss-cross lines in the wood that are about five to six inches deep with a chainsaw, then simply light some kindling on top and monitor the stump until it’s burned down below ground level.
Dig the Tree Stump Out of the Ground
- Dig around the stump, exposing as many roots as possible.
- Use a chainsaw, hatchet, or handsaw to cut the larger roots. As you continue digging, you may find smaller roots that can be cut with clippers or loppers.
- Once you’ve cut all of the roots around the stump, lift and remove the stump from the ground.
- Fill the hole with dirt and cover it with topsoil or mulch.
Note: This process can take multiple hours of labor, depending on the size of the tree stump and the root structure.
Grinding the Tree Stump
This is the quickest method for killing and removing tree stumps. It involves hiring a tree removal specialist or renting a stump grinder machine to break apart the wood in the trunk and tree roots. Typical for this job are around 100–400. Stump grinder machine rental costs typically fall between 80 and 150 for a four-hour window.
To grind a tree stump, start by trimming the stump with a chainsaw, digging around it and removing any rocks. Then, use the machine’s cutter blade to chip away at the wood and cut any roots that are connected to the stump. This process can take anywhere from two to six hours depending on the size of the stump. Once you’re finished, spread dirt in and over the hole, adding topsoil or mulch if desired.
What To Avoid When Killing Tree Stumps
Here are a few factors to consider when removing or killing tree stumps to ensure safety and effectiveness:
- Bleach—Bleach can be used to kill a stump when poured over it in high quantities, but we recommend avoiding this method since it can be detrimental to the surrounding plants. It would be much healthier for the environment of your yard to use a more natural method like Epsom salt, as this can be beneficial to plants and soil.
- Diesel fuel—Avoid using diesel fuel or gasoline to burn tree trunks, since these solutions don’t offer a slow, effective burn needed to properly break down the wood. Diesel fuel and gasoline can also be toxic for the surrounding plants in your yard. Instead, we suggest using minimal amounts of kerosene and kindling wood for your stump fires.
- Potential dangers—Even if your city allows for burning a stump, monitor and maintain the fire until it’s finished burning to keep it from spreading beyond the controlled area. You should also take safety precautions when using tree removal equipment, such as a chainsaw or stump grinder, and wear the proper protective gear.
- Proximity to other plants—If your stump is located near plants that you wish to protect, be careful when adding chemicals to the stump and keep them off any surrounding plants. For example, even though the magnesium sulfate in Epsom salt can be good for plants, too much of it can dry them out.
The Bottom Line
If you’re trying to remove a tree stump from your yard, try one of the above methods. While we recommend the DIY techniques if you’re not in a hurry, renting a machine or hiring a professional to help grind the stump is the fastest solution.
Enter your ZIP code into the tool below to find tree removal experts in your area that can help you get rid of your pesky stump.
How to Remove a Tree Stump with a Wedge
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take for tree stumps to naturally decompose?
It takes about three to seven years for tree stumps to naturally decay on their own. However, the actual time will depend on your location, environment, climate, and type of tree. Generally, the lower the stump is cut, the quicker it will rot.
What are the best tree stump remover products?
Popular herbicide brands, including Spectracide, Stump Stop, and Bonide, make tree stump killer solutions to use on your pesky stump. You can also use natural solutions, such as Epsom salt, saltpeter, and rock salt, to remove your tree stump.
Can I remove a stump without professional help?
If you’re considering removing a stump on your own, you can rent a stump grinder to break up the wood and cut off the roots. You can also start a controlled fire to slowly burn the stump down. However, hiring a professional can save you time and effort, since they’ll have the proper equipment and expertise needed to take care of your stump.
What is the best way to kill a tree stump?
The best way to kill a tree stump depends on how much time you’re willing to wait. If you need to remove the stump as soon as possible, hiring a professional to dig it out of the ground may be the best option. If you don’t mind waiting for a few months to a year for the stump to completely decompose, we recommend using Epsom salt to accelerate the natural rotting process.
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How to Remove a Tree Stump
Did you ever wonder about the origin of the word “stumped”? You probably understand where the term originated if you’ve ever tried to figure out how to remove a tree stump from your yard.
While there are many ways to remove a tree stump, all of them can be described as challenging. However, with the right tools and knowledge, you can successfully remove a tree stump from your yard without calling the pros.
How To Get Rid of Tree Stumps
On their own, tree stumps can take up to a decade or more to decay. During that time, tree stumps are an eyesore, make lawn care difficult, attract pests and diseases, and can have annoying root sprouts.
If you’re ready to start planting grass where that old tree stump is, you can choose from several DIY removal methods, including using chemicals, digging, grinding, and burning them. Always use safety gear when running dangerous equipment like chainsaws and stump grinders, and don’t forget to contact utility companies before you dig.
How To Kill a Tree Stump
Many deciduous trees will continue trying to grow even after they are cut down. So not only do you have to mow around an unsightly tree stump, but you also have to keep pruning the sucker shoots.
You can kill a tree stump using chemicals, and it will accelerate decay to make removal easier. This method takes longer than other ways to remove a stump, but it is one of the easiest, and you won’t have to keep dealing with irritating root sprouts.
- Electric drill
- 1” spade bit and 12” extension bit
- Safety glasses
- Work gloves
- Stump remover chemicals
- Epsom salt
- Rock salt
- Potassium nitrate fertilizer
How To Kill a Tree Stump With Chemicals
When you’re trying to remove a stubborn stump with chemicals, it’s important to remember how to take care of the grass around it to avoid damaging your lawn. Be careful when using harsh chemicals to protect the grass around the stump, and don’t leave piles of dirt or wood chips on the lawn.
Step 1: Clear the area around the stump and use a chainsaw to cut the stump as low to the ground as possible. Always wear proper safety gear when using a chainsaw.
Step 2: Use the 1” spade bit to drill holes in the top of the stump. Place holes about 6″ apart and 3″ from the edge. Use the extension bit to increase the depth of the holes to at least 12”. The deeper and wider your holes, the better.
Step 3: The chemical decay process requires venting, so you must drill more holes in the sides of the stump for vents. The side holes must connect to the vertical holes, but they must be at a 45-degree angle or better to ensure the chemical doesn’t leak out of the stump.
Step 4: Pour stump remover granules into the vertical holes at the top of the stump, then add water so the chemicals will soak into the wood. Always wear gloves and safety glasses when using harsh chemicals.
Step 5: The stump will become soft and spongy in about six weeks. At this point, you can break it up with an ax and remove as much as possible. You may need to repeat the above steps to remove a large stump.
Step 6: Once you’ve removed as much of the stump as possible, replace the rotten wood with fill dirt and topsoil, and enjoy a stump-free yard.
DIY Stump Removal
Do-it-yourself lawn care can save you a lot of money, especially when it comes to removing stumps. Stumps can interfere with grass maintenance, and getting rid of them will make your job easier in the long run.
The problem with many stumps is they continue to send up sucker shoots, so the first step is to kill the stump. Using Epsom salt or rock salt will kill the sprouts and accelerate the stump’s decay without using caustic chemicals.
Try these methods if you’re looking for a more natural way to speed up decay.
How To Kill a Tree Stump With Epsom Salt
Many people don’t like chemicals and prefer Epsom salt to stump remover products. However, while Epsom salt speeds up natural decay, it will take much longer than stump remover chemicals.
Step 1: Drill holes in the tree stump, following the above-mentioned method.
Step 2: Saturate the entire area around the stump.
Step 3: Pour Epsom salt into the holes. You can also spread the salt around the base of the stump.
Step 4: Add water to the holes to fill them, but don’t allow the Epsom salt to spill out. Alternatively, you can mix a 2:1 Epsom salt to water solution to pour into the holes.
Step 5: Cover the stump with a tarp to keep rain from washing away the Epsom salt. Allow the salt to work for the next few months, then repeat this process. It will take about 6-12 months for the stump to decay before it’s soft enough to remove with an ax.
How To Kill a Tree Stump With Rock Salt
Rock salt speeds up the natural decay process by promoting the growth of fungi. You can use the same method described for Epsom salt, but cover the stump with soil and mulch after you add the salt. Water it every few days for about two months to keep it moist.
You can add potassium nitrate fertilizer to the rock salt to encourage fungal growth. Keep the stump covered for at least two months before disturbing it, as fungal growth requires humidity, warm temperatures, and nutrients.
How To Kill a Tree Stump With a Tarp
Using a tarp or a plastic bag is another way to kill a tree stump. It is the easiest method available but much slower than any other technique.
To kill a tree stump with a tarp, use a chainsaw to cut it as low to the ground as you can. Then, cover it with a tarp or plastic weighed down with rocks or bricks. If you have small stumps, you can use a dark bucket to cover them.
How To Kill a Tree Stump With Boiling Water
Boiling water is a common organic method for killing weeds and works on tree stumps. Like other methods that don’t use harsh chemicals, it will take longer for the stump to rot, but the roots will quickly die and stop sending up sprouts.
To kill a tree stump with boiling water, clear the soil to expose the roots as much as possible so you can drill holes into them. Drill vertical holes in the top of the stump and the roots, then pour boiling water into them.
You may need to repeat the process a few times to kill the stump completely, but the decay process can only begin once it’s dead. After it’s dead, you can cover the stump with soil and mulch to promote natural decay.
How To Remove a Tree Stump By Hand (Without a Grinder)
Knowing how to take care of your lawn involves more than just mowing. Besides basic lawn care, your yard maintenance chores may extend to removing stumps by hand.
Digging out a stump can be tedious and labor-intensive, but it is an effective way to keep stumps from growing back.
Even though removing a tree stump by hand is time and labor-intensive, it’s still much faster than using chemicals. So if you have more time than money, you can use one of these DIY stump removal techniques to get rid of your stump quickly.
- Using fire to get rid of a stump will kill the tree completely and allow you to plant a lawn or flower bed over the area. However, it won’t remove all of the roots.
- Do not use this method if you live in a dry climate that is susceptible to wildfires.
- Burning often requires a fire permit, so contact your local fire department or lands department before burning.
- Use kerosene in small amounts, as it is toxic and can kill surrounding animals and plants.
- Don’t use gasoline or diesel fuel. These burn off quickly, are ineffective, and are toxic to animals and plants.
- Never throw fuel on a burning fire.
Step 1: Clear the area around the stump, fully exposing the mineral soil.
Step 2: Use the chainsaw to cut the stump down as far as possible. Cut crisscross lines into the top of the stump about six inches deep. Always wear safety gear when using a chainsaw.
Step 3: Pour kerosene on the stump, and allow it to soak into the lines you cut with your chainsaw. You can also drill deep holes into the stump and pour kerosene into them.
Step 4: Use kindling to start a fire on top of the stump and continue burning until it has burnt below ground level.
Digging a tree stump out of the ground is a lot of work and requires destroying a large area of your yard, but it is a quick and effective way to remove a stump and its roots.
Step 1: Start digging a few feet from the stump. Go around the perimeter and work toward the center, cutting roots with a handsaw, chainsaw, ax, or pulaski. Use clippers or loppers on smaller roots.
Step 2: Many trees have a large tap root, and you must continue digging until you can sever it. If you’re removing a large stump, you will have a big hole and must be careful when cutting the roots at the bottom of the stump.
Step 3: Use a winch or chain to pull the stump from the ground. Dispose of the stump and roots.
Step 4: Fill the hole back in, add dirt, and cover the area with topsoil.
How To Remove a Tree Stump With a Grinder
The fastest way to remove a tree stump is with a grinder, but it can be expensive; and it requires physical strength to operate a stump grinder. Rental costs are usually between 50 to 150 for half a day, so you should prepare the area before renting the equipment.
Professional stump grinders use heavy-duty hydraulic equipment that makes quick work of stumps. They charge between 140 to 450 per stump, so it might be cheaper to use a professional if you need to remove several stumps.
Gather your tools, and follow the steps below if you plan on renting a stump grinder and doing it yourself.
- Long-sleeved shirt and pants
- Chainsaw safety pants
- Safety glasses
- Hearing protection
- Work boots
- Work gloves
- Hard hat
Step 1: Prepare the area by digging around the tree stump and removing rocks. Use a chainsaw to cut the stump as low as possible and dig a furrow around the entire stump.
Step 2: After you prepare the area, rent the grinder. Roll it up to the stump and adjust the handlebars to waist height. Set the brake and hold the handlebars down to lift the blade off the ground before you start the grinder.
Step 3: Start the machine, and use the lever to move the grinding head across the stump in a slow, rolling motion.
Step 4: When you’ve removed about six inches, stop the machine, then roll it forward and reset the brake. Continue using the blade to chip away at the stump and grind it to about six to ten inches below ground level. If you’re planning on building over the stump, remove an amount equal to the diameter of the stump.
Use these caution tips when using a stump grinder:
- Stump grinders are heavy equipment and can be dangerous. Always wear protective clothing and gear, keep long hair up, and don’t wear dangling jewelry.
- Hitting a rock can ruin the teeth on the grinder, so be careful to remove all rocks.
- Flying rocks and debris are dangerous, so keep pets and children away. Also, do not allow bystanders to stand close to the equipment.
- Stay away from the cutter wheel.
- Let the machine’s weight fall on the stump to apply force to the cutting head. Never press on the handlebars to force the machine to grind faster.
- Always keep the brake on when using the grinder, so it doesn’t kick back.
- Hold the handlebars with an open grip with your thumbs on the bar. This way, they are less likely to get hurt if the machine kicks back.
- Take your time. You can grind small stumps in about 15 minutes, but large stumps may take up to 2 hours.
- Start your project early in the day to avoid operating the stump grinder at night.
How To Remove a Large Tree Stump
Removing a large tree stump from your yard can be challenging, but there are a few effective methods. You can dig it out, burn it out, or use a stump grinder.
For large stumps, hiring a professional stump removal service is recommended.
How To Remove a Small Tree Stump
You can remove a small tree stump using any of the described methods. Depending on how fast you want to get rid of a stump, you can choose from chemical and organic stump removal methods.
If you need to remove it quickly, use a stump grinder or dig it out.
How To Remove a Palm Tree Stump
Palm tree stumps are challenging to remove because their long, stringy roots intertwine, making it difficult to cut them. Even though they don’t have a tap root, the tangled web of roots that spread out from the stump can make it tough to dig, so the easiest way to remove a palm tree stump is by using a stump grinder.
Getting Rid of the Tree Roots
Unless you dig out your stump, you could still have tree roots left behind after you remove a stump. Eventually, the roots will decay, but if exposed, they can be an obstacle when mowing. They also create tripping hazards and may be unsightly.
To get rid of tree roots after stump removal, use one of these methods:
First, dig them out: Grinding your stump to at least eight inches below the ground will make it much easier to dig out the roots.
Chemicals: Drill holes in the roots and use stump remover chemicals. These harsh chemicals can endanger children, pets, small animals, and surrounding plants, so take appropriate caution.
Epsom salt: Drill holes in the roots and use Epsom salt to speed up decay. This method requires more patience, and you must apply the Epsom salt several times.
Patch the Stump Area
After you remove a stump, it’s time to celebrate. But before you get carried away in the revelry, patch the stump area to prepare it for planting.
Following basic lawn care tips can result in a lush and healthy lawn.
You should remove large pieces of roots and debris, but you can fill the hole with the wood chips and dirt left behind. Backfill the hole, using extra fill dirt, and then top the area off with a mixture of compost and turf builder.
Use a spade to turn over the top 6 to 8 inches, then rake it smooth and plant grass seed to complete your project.
Once your grass is established, continue your regular grass care routine.
FAQs About Tree Stump Removal
What’s the Best Time to Remove a Stump?
The best time to remove a stump is right after the tree is felled. However, you can remove a tree stump whenever you’re ready.
Basic lawn care is more difficult when you have stumps in your yard, so removing them as soon as possible is best.
Can I Leave a Tree Stump in the Ground?
Tree stumps are obstacles that you have to mow around, and no matter how many creative ways you find to decorate a stump, they aren’t attractive. You can leave a tree stump in the ground, but you’ll have to deal with suckering roots and fungal growth.
On the other hand, you’ll feel a sense of relief once it’s removed, and it will create more usable space in your yard.
How Long Does It Take a Stump to Rot Away on Its Own?
Several factors are involved in how long it takes for a stump to rot without chemicals. The size and species of the tree are critical factors, as some types of wood are resistant to decay. For example, a large oak stump might take up to twenty years to rot.
Other factors that affect how fast a tree rots include moisture levels, insect activity, fungal growth, and sunlight. Wood rots more quickly in moist environments, so a stump in a shady area will decay much faster than one in the sun.
How Far Down Should You Grind a Stump?
If you wish to plant a new tree in the same area, it is recommended that you have the stump completely removed. Professional stump removal services usually grind stumps to a depth of four to six inches, but some can go as deep as 16 inches. If you just want to grow grass in the area, grinding the stump four to six inches below ground level is sufficient.
If I Grind the Stump, Do I Need to Remove the Roots?
The best course of action is to grind the stump deep enough to make it easy to remove the roots. Of course, you don’t have to remove the roots when you grind the stump, but roots close to the surface can interfere with plant growth. They can also be tripping hazards and mowing obstacles when they stick up above ground level.
How to Remove Stump with Chainsaw
Tree stumps left behind after cutting down a tree can ruin the beauty of your property and cause injuries. If you like to get your hands dirty by doing most of the work yourself then this DIY is meant for you, there are several ways to remove the stump. You may hire a grinder, rot the stump using chemicals or cut it using home tools. Stay with me to learn how to remove stump with chainsaw.
If you are a property owner and wonder how to remove a tree stump without a grinder, you are in the right place. In this article, we talk to you who have a chainsaw at home or can buy one to remove a stump. We know removing tree stumps is a tiring process, but we hope to make the work more manageable with a chainsaw.
First of all, to remove a tree stump with a chainsaw requires you to have basic knowledge of chainsaw use. But if you are a beginner, you can start by following the instructions laid down in the chainsaw manual. You will also need protective wear to block flying debris and shield you from accidental cuts.
In addition, you will need some crucial tools to accompany the chainsaw to make the work much more manageable. These tools include a shovel, lever, trowel, chain, and mattock.
How to remove stump with chainsaw
Before you get down into business you have to check on safety. Below are what you need for the job:
Step 1- Wear personal protective clothing
For the safe use of a chainsaw when removing stumps, wear protective gear to protect your eyes, ears, and limbs against possible injury. These protective equipment include:
Step 2- Trim the stumps to the ground level
Most tree fellers leave a significantly tall tree stump after cutting the tree. A big stump, probably with side branches, remains. Cut off the branches, leaves, and zombie trees that may have sprouted from the decaying stump. Use alternating and diagonal cuts to slice the upper [part of the stump to the minimum height near the ground.
To ensure you cut as much stump from the ground as possible, first clear the surrounding dirt, leaves, or weed. This gives you a good view and removes obstacles that could cause kickbacks from the chainsaw.
Be careful to avoid cutting through the soil. Also, please do not cut the stump with the tip of the guide bar, lest it gets stuck and slows down the cutting process. Diagonally cutting the stump helps avoid trapping the guide bar and chain under the heavyweight of the tree stump. In addition, cut small chunks gradually that your chainsaw can handle.
After cutting the upper part of the stump, push the wood chunks away and proceed with the next step; clearing debris to expose the roots.
Step 3- Clear dirt away from the stump
Use a shovel or a trowel to remove the earth around the stump. The ground might be challenging, and you may spend some time at this stage. As you clear the dirt from the stump base, trace the root system to ensure you remove the soil to the farthest part.
Big tree stumps have longer roots that may spread several feet away from the base. Removing the soil and weed from the root network clears the view in readiness for cutting the roots and detaching the stump from the ground.
Pay attention as you dig deeper into the ground. Avoid damaging underground water pipes that might be lying near the stump. Damaging the waterways could cut off the water connection to your house. It could also affect your neighbors.
Step 4 – Cut the roots
After clearing the dirt around the dirt, take your chainsaw and work diagonally, detaching the roots from the ground. Start from the top of the stump. Work small sections by cutting diagonally and alternating the directions of the cut. You may need to change positions around the stump to alternate these cuts.
Be careful to avoid cutting into the ground, as this could make the chain blunt. The soil may also get into the machine’s parts and be the root of some common problems such as smoking or overheating.
Clear any extra dirt that collects as you work. However, don’t clear while the chainsaw is still running. Instead, turn off the chainsaw, then go ahead and clear the dirt. Use the trowel or shovel to shovel out any accumulated soil.
Also, take care when digging into the soil to avoid damaging water pipes. If not sure where the water pathways are, consult your local water technician to confirm the location of the lines. Consulting local technicians will save you from spending your money on repairing damaged underground water pipes.
Continue cutting the roots using the saw or an ax until the ground’s grip on the stump is loose.
Once you have cut most of the roots from the ground, it is time to pull out the stump.
Step 5- Detach the stump from the ground
Cutting the roots frees the stump from the ground’s tight grip. In this step, move the stump back and forth to loosen the roots before pulling it out. The ease of movement will inform you of any roots that are still deep into the ground.
You could also use a landscaping bar, crowbar, or digging bar to try and pull the stump. Place the lever between the soil and the stump. Put a stone or a log below the lever such that when you pull down the lever, it will lie on the stone/log. Pull the lever downwards and exert pressure on the stump to free the rots from the ground.
The bars can act as levers to exert more force than your hands and make prying the stump easier. If the stump is too broad, get help from someone to pull it out.
If the stump is still hard to pull after all this, wrap a chain around the stump. Fix the other end of the chain on a tractor or pick-up truck. Try to loosen the tree trunk by pulling the chain forward. Pull again in the opposite direction until you pull out the stump.
Step 6- Get rid of the tree stump
So, after all these steps, your tree stump is free from the ground and is lying there. What next after uprooting the stump? Well, for one, consider cutting the stump into sizable portions to create firewood for the fireplace.
You could also check if there is a stump disposal service in your neighborhood. Most local parks help members of the community to get rid of tree stumps.
Another option you should consider is selling the stump to a local recycling company. Ask a family member or a neighbor for a hand to lift the stump to your car or truck. You could then take the stump to the recycling point. In addition, some local businesses buy tree stumps to sell to their customers as firewood or process them to make wood products.
You can also hire a wood shredder to shred the wood. Use the shredded product as mulch to lay on your garden and form a base for your seedbed. Mulch decays to create nutrient-rich manure that helps seedlings and vegetables grow.
Grinding a tree stump with a chainsaw
The above process involves cutting the stump and its roots from the ground then uprooting it. There is another method of getting rid of that ugly stump in your property. The technique is similar to a grinder, only that you are using a chainsaw to grind the stump.
How to do the chainsaw stump grinder technique
- Clear dirt around the stump to expose it and give you a good view. Use an ax to remove the bark of the stump if it is not yet decayed
- Use diagonal, alternating movements to slice most parts of the stump. You could cut the stump to about one or two inches above the ground
- Position the cutting edge of your chainsaw on the flat surface of the stump. Make one inch or two inch-deep vertical cuts into the stump
- Turn around and make crisscrossing patterns of the same depth, to make a right angle with the vertical cuts. This pattern assumes a grid’s appearance
- Fine woodcuts will start to fall off and can be swept away by water. Use a hose pipe with water or a pressure blower to clear the pieces of wood from the surface
- Repeat the same procedure, taking care to not cut into the dirt with the chainsaw
- Once done, pour some dirt over the space and plant some seeds. Add some mulch and sprinkle some water to set the layer of soil. This prevents the wind from blowing it away and exposing the stump roots
The only downside to using this method to get rid of stumps is that the roots are left on the ground and may take a long to decay. Some types of tree stumps may germinate into zombie trees. These trees will make your landscape clearing effort fruitless.
In addition, grinding stumps with a chainsaw increases the chances of cutting into dirt or trapping the guide bar into the wood. When the guide bar gets stuck in the wood, it is likely to bend or get damaged. This method is recommended for chainsaw veterans who have mastered how to change angles when cutting through wood.
Valuable tips on how to remove a tree stump using a chainsaw
Tree stumps can be hectic to remove at times. Below are some of the easy techniques that can help you overcome the hazards:
Use a high-pressure hose pipe
The high-pressure washer will clear dirt from the tree stump base and around the exposed roots. The high-pressure water will dislodge the dirt from the roots bringing a clear view of where the chainsaw is cutting.
It is unnecessary to remove all the roots
Provided you have dislocated and cut the primary roots holding the stump into the soil, you can start pulling the stump. Some roots may be deep and spread to the broader area of the yard. Digging them out may ruin your yard.
Use a vehicle or tractor to pull the tree stump
Sometimes, even after cutting the main roots holding down the stump, it won’t move when pulled with bare hands. Wrapping a chain around the stump and drawing with a truck or tractor could make your work easier.
Remove stumps after the rains
When it rains, the ground absorbs water making the soil soft. Clearing the dirt to make way for the chainsaw becomes easier. It is also advisable to remove stumps during winter.
Avoid cutting into the dirt
When cutting the roots, ensure you cut diagonally and avoid cutting into the ground. The soil blunts the chainsaw and hastens the wear on the chain joints. Cutting into the dirt also stretches the chain, making it hang loosely on the blade.
Which is the best chainsaw chain for cutting stumps?
There are four types of chains used in chainsaws. Their suitability varies with the kind of stuff you are cutting. These are full chisel, semi-chisel, micro chisel, and low profile chains.
The most suitable chain for use in cutting tree stumps is the semi-chisel. It has rounded edges that slow down the cutting speed, consequently lowering the kickback rate. The chain is also more resistant to diet-induced dulling. This makes it suitable for cutting tree roots.
Why should I remove tree stumps from my yard?
So you have been looking at the tree stump lying in your yard, thinking if you should keep it or remove it. It would be best if you got rid of it, and here is why:
Tree stumps are unpleasant to look at
Have you seen a good-looking stump in your yard or your neighbor’s? Most tree stumps aren’t a sight to behold unless you make creative artwork from them.
When you cut a tree, the beautiful leaves, flowers, and branches full of life are gone. A life-less and ugly stump that only acts as an obstacle to maximizing your yard space sits in the area now.
Stumps pose a safety hazard
Stumps present a safety hazard to you and your family. For instance, as you mow your yard to keep the grass neat and presentable, the lawnmower might hit a stump and injure you. The stump will also damage the mower and cost you more money at the repair shop.
Besides, children playing in the yard may trip over the tree stumps and sustain serious injuries. Big tree stumps also spread their roots far into the yard and may puncture your vehicle tires as you drive by.
Stumps are breeding places for insects and rodents
Tree stumps decay very slowly. It could take years until the wood rots completely. As the tree stump rots, different creatures build their habitat around and inside the wood. These insects and rodents can be a nuisance to you.
Some of these creatures can even cause economic losses. For instance, termites can eat your wooden materials such as furniture and housing structures. Rodents, on the other hand, can destroy stored farm produce and ruin clothes.
Zombie trees sprout from the tree stumps
After cutting the tree, some tree stumps do not dry up. Instead, new trees sprout from the stump and grow into unpleasant trees with stunted growth. These trees are known as zombie trees.
Zombie trees do not add any value to your yard. They also compete for nutrients with other economically significant vegetation in the yard—for example, vegetables in the kitchen garden.
The little trees can also reduce the value of your property to prospective buyers.
Tree stumps reduce yard space
Some tree stumps are so big that they take up space that you could use for other purposes. For instance, you could use the area to construct barbecue grills, a children’s playground, or a workshop.
If you are a gardening enthusiast, you probably have divided your yard into sections for the different vegetables you grow. Having tree stumps amongst these vegetables is wasteful.
The stumps take up space you could use for more produce. The tree stump roots could also compete for nutrients with your plants and cause poor crops.
Stumps complicate Yard activities
Gardening, landscaping, weeding, or any other yard activities need clear pathways and space. Tree stumps will create obstacles. These barriers make chores around the yard harder. Stumps also interfere with playing space and experience for your children.
What Next after removing the tree stump?
After removing the tree stump, what remains is another unpleasant look on your yard; the hole where the stump sat. If you leave it that way, your stump removal activities to beautify your landscape could be in vain.
To finish the good work you started, fill the hollow space with good quality loam soil to grow lawn grass or other plants. You can dig the dirt from another part of your yard. Work the ground and level it. Plant some grass seeds, cover them with a light layer of soil, and top it up with mulch.
The mulch serves as a shield to keep seed-picking birds away. The mulch also acts as a barrier against strong winds that might blow the seeds and the soil away.
Water your new mini-garden and wait for some weeks for the grass to grow. The water also makes the soil moist and sticky, reducing the chances of being blown away by the wind. After the ground is level with the rest of the yard, you may choose to use the site as you wish.
Other ways to remove tree stumps without a grinder
Use stump killing chemicals
It will take you about six to eight weeks to get rid of a tree stump using the chemical method. This method will need a chainsaw, a drill, and a suitable stump remover chemical.
You will also need to dress up in protective clothing such as goggles and earbuds for the chainsaw stage.
How to remove a tree stump with a stump killing chemical
- Cut most of the tree stump with the chainsaw, only leaving few inches above the ground
- Use the drill to make horizontal and vertical holes across the surface of the stump. Drill these holes so that the vertical holes meet the horizontal holes to make a channel
- Pour the chemical into the holes (the substances are in the form of a powder)
- Add water into these holes to soak and activate the chemical
- Wait for about six weeks for the chemical to soften the wood
- Once the wood feels soft and mushy, cut the wood into pieces with an ax and dispose of them
Some of these chemicals are harsh. You can use milder chemicals such as nitrogen-based chemicals and Epsom salt.
Examples of chemicals used as tree stump killers:
Burning the Stump
You can also burn the stump in a controlled manner to break down the wood pulp into ash. This method produces smoke which could be an air pollution concern. Please consult your local authorities to find out this is legal.
How to burn a tree stump as a removal technique
- Cut most of the tree stump with a chainsaw
- Drill holes of about 10-inch depth into the stump. These holes should be close to each other, leaving only a tiny gap between them
- Fill these holes with a nitrogenous chemical such as potassium nitrate
- Add hot water to the chemical to activate
- Place dry wood on the stump in an organized way and light it up. Let it ignite the stump as you watch to keep the fire to spread to flammable neighboring materials
- Once most of the stump has burned down, dig up any remaining roots with a shovel and dispose of the debris
- Fill the hollow space left behind by the burnt stump with soil
Tree stumps are ugly and reduce the value of your property. They also house household and garden pests such as termites and insects—these creatures damage stuff around the house. Stumps create obstacles that interfere with children’s play routine and cause injury.
Learning how to remove these stumps is essential to any homeowner. Using a chainsaw to cut tree roots is a DIY technique for removing a stump without a grinder. Other ways include burning and treating the stump with a chemical to speed up the rotting process.