If you have cut down a tree near your home, you will eventually want to remove the tree stump. You can call a company that specializes in tree stump removal or you can do it yourself. This guide will you all that you want to know about stump removal.
The 5 Best Options For Tree Stump Removal
There are five main options for tree stump removal. Are there other ways to remove a stump? Sure, but these will cover the vast majority of cases for home owners who aren’t making a habit of removing stumps from their property.
- Cutting, pulling, or digging out the stump
- Chemical removal method
- Burning the tree stump
- Professional Removal
Let’s look at all these options in detail.
Manual Stump Removal
You can remove a tree stump manually by digging it out, cutting it out, or pulling it out.
Digging is only going to work with smaller trees and pulling will require a powerful truck, a serious tow strap, and a big wheel. There are many great instructional videos this technique, so we won’t get into that process.
Removing manually involved a lot of cutting and chopping, with a little digging. Remember, it’s is easier once the stump is dried! Here is the equipment you need for it:
- Digging bar
- Mattock (it’s like a pickaxe but with a flat end on one side)
- Saw (usually a large bow saw)
- Gloves, safety goggles, and steel toe boots
You won’t need all those tools, but some combination of them will get the job done.
The following describes how to manually remove a tree stump:
- Put on your safety gear. Seriously.
- Use the broad end of the mattock and dig all around the tree stump.
- Shovel away the loose dirt. The bigger the tree stump, the more is the dirt you need to shovel to reach the roots.
- Once you find the roots, use the small end of the mattock or the axe to get through them. You can use the small bow saw to cut the roots if they are too big to chop.
- Keep digging until you find the main root (the taproot). Depending on its size, you either need an ax or a large bow saw to cut it.
The manual method is the most cost-effective one. However, it requires a lot of physical effort and a lot of time. This time is best split up into a number of sessions so don’t wear yourself out — do some cutting and return to the job the next day when you are fresh.
And don’t worry, if the removal is harder than you thought there are professional tree-removal agencies who can do it for you. It’ll be expensive but cheaper than a strained back.
Chemical Stump Removal Method
The chemical method is an easier way to remove a tree stump. Unlike the manual method, you need not wait for the tree to stump to dry. In fact, you should use the chemical method immediately after the tree is cut.
The following are the things you need for chemical tree stump removal:
- Tree stump removal granules or a garden fertilizer with high nitrogen content or epsom salt
- Garden mulch
- Chainsaw or axe
- Drill and a large bit (1/2″ is ideal)
- Plastic tarp sheet
You can remove a tree stump using the chemical method by following these instructions:
- The first thing to do is to remove as much of the tree stump as possible using a chainsaw. Make sure to follow safety instructions to prevent accidents.
- Now you need to use the drill to make holes deep into the tree stump. Make holes all around the stump. Go as deep as possible while staying in the stump.
- Add the chemical stump remover, following the directions closely. If you don’t want to use any nasty chemicals, you can try this method with epsom salt or fertilizer.
- Once this is done, cover the stump using a plastic tarp, so long as this is in keeping with the directions! This will help in retaining moisture content in the stump. Add a garden mulch over the trap and water it.
- The chemical with the moisture makes the tree rot away. You need to make this process effective by removing the tarp and adding more nitrogen and water regularly.
- It takes around a month or so for the tree stump to completely rot. Remove the tarp and cut the softwood using an ax. Bury anything that remains so the decay happens naturally underground.
The chemical process doesn’t require as much hard physical labor. It takes time but this is lesser compared to the time needed for the tree to age before manually cutting it. In this method, you can remove the stump within a few weeks of cutting down the tree.
Note, many stump chemicals aren’t stump removers, but stump killers. This is not what you want. All stump products use harsh chemicals that you want to be very careful using, or even avoid altogether — especially the stump killers. The stump killers often use Roundup (glyphosate) which we never recommend using. Consider the epsom salt method before a commercial product.
Burning Down The Tree Stump
One of the options to remove a tree stump is to burn it out. You can optionally get a commercial product that you can use to break down the wood fibers and make them more porous, or not. Then pour kerosene, so it absorbs into the wood easily. Once this is done, light a fire, and the wood will burn. It becomes a low flame that keeps burning until all the wood is burnt. Once the wood is burnt, dig out all that is left. Replace the ashes with loam.
There are helpful videos on this method that you’ll want to watch before moving forward.
The burning method has risks. If you are not alert, the fire may spread, especially during the summer months. You need to be extremely careful using this method.
Also, in some places it may not be legal to burn a tree stump. You may need to get permission (a burning or open fire license) from your township before burning the tree stump… or it may be altogether not OK in your area. Find out the legal requirements before trying out this method!
Yet another option is to get the tree stump removed using a grinder. It might be possible to rent one of these in your area, usually at a Home Depot or Lowe’s, but tool rental stores might be available as well.
This is a somewhat pricey option as you need to rent the grinder, which can cost over $200 a day. Operating the grinder requires care, so make sure you follow all safety guidelines to limit risk.
Stump grinding is far afield from our expertise or experience so proceed with caution!
Professional Stump Removal
And, of course, you can call a professional to do the job. Professional stump removal will involve a team of people coming to your home with a grinder which will entirely do the job and leave you with a nice patch of dirt you can use for a garden, flower bed, or planting grass on.
The cost of the stump removal will depend on the size of the tree, the type of tree, the location, and where you live. A good ballpark estimate will be based on $5 per inch of the stump’s diameter, but honestly it’s better to just assume it’s going to cost your $300-$500 to get the job done.