How to Accelerate Stumps to Rot


Cutting down trees can be a very challenging task, depending on how large the tree is. It would be great if that was the end of the process, but it's not. After the tree is cut down, you are left with a stump than can persist for years and make working the soil or planting new things nearly impossible. To get rid of the persistent stump, you need to either mechanically remove it, or accelerate its rotting process. The latter is usually easier and more inexpensive. To accelerate stumps to rot you must allow the elements to penetrate into the stump and increase an organic presence.

Step 1

Cut the stump as close to the ground as possible with a chainsaw. This reduces the volume of wood that needs to rot.

Step 2

Drill several holes into the top of the stump that are at least 1 inch wide in diameter. Drill the holes as deep as possible.

Step 3

Cover the stump with topsoil or sod and keep moist. Add a nitrogen-based fertilizer to the stump to replenish lost nitrogen since the organisms that decompose the wood the first year are nitrogen-limited. Read the fertilizer bag and apply as much fertilizer to the stump as you would to your lawn.

Step 4

Add sugar to the stump after the first year since the organisms become more carbon limited. Fill the holes in the stump completely with sugar. The amount needed will depend on how big your stump is. As depressions appear in the stump, fill them in with more topsoil.

Tips and Warnings

  • Adding too much fertilizer to the stump can cause your nearby plants and lawn to burn. Always use the recommended amount indicated on the fertilizer bag.

Things You'll Need

  • Chainsaw
  • 1-inch drill bit
  • Cordless drill
  • Topsoil
  • Sod
  • Garden hose
  • Water source
  • Fertilizer rich in nitrogen
  • Sugar
  • Mushroom spores


  • Gardens Alive: Tree Stump Troubles
  • LSU AgCenter: Stump Removal from Home Grounds
  • Sustainable and Urban Gardening: Removing Stumps the Safe and Easy Way
Keywords: accelerate stumps to rot, drill several holes, cover the stump, nitrogen-based fertilizer, nitrogen limited, carbon limited

About this Author

Robin Gonyo has been writing for several years now. She has a deep love for gardening and has spent a vast amount of time researching that subject. Previously she has written for private clients before joining Demand Studios. She hopes to share her knowledge with others through her writing.