Removing Stumps


There are several ways to remove a stump from your yard after you have cut a tree down. You can hire someone to grind the stump to the ground. This is the most costly method. Or you can do it yourself to save money. The two most common ways to remove a stump at home is to dig the stump out in a process called grubbing. This is the quickest way to remove a stump, but also the most labor intensive. The second method is called rotting. Rotting a stump is the easiest way to remove one, but it takes time.


Step 1

Dig a trench in the dirt around the bottom of a stump with a grubbing hoe or mattock. The trench should be about two feet wide by two feet deep.

Step 2

Cut all the lateral roots you encounter in this trench with an axe, grubbing hoe or mattock.

Step 3

Bend the trunk of the tree on its side to expose the tap root.

Step 4

Sever the tap root with an axe, grubbing hoe or mattock.

Step 5

Pull the stump from the grubbing hole. For a tree that is still anchored with tiny feeder roots, you may have to wrap the cable of a winch around the stub and pull the stump out of the ground.


Step 1

Cut the stump as close to the ground as possible using a chain saw.

Step 2

Attach a one-inch drill bit to an electric drill.

Step 3

Drill holes in a ring around the edge of the top stump to a depth of one inch deep. Space the holes one inch apart.

Step 4

Dampen the top of the stump with a garden hose.

Step 5

Sprinkle one tsp. of granulated, balanced (10-10-10) fertilizer and a cup of powdered milk over the top of the stump. This will feed fungus that speeds the rotting of the stump.

Step 6

Cover the stump with mulch, and water occasionally. As the decaying stump settles, add topsoil and another teaspoon of fertilizer over the depression in your yard.

Tips and Warnings

  • A third way to remove a stump yourself is to burn it out. Burning is the most common, but least recommended method. Burning turns the stump into charcoal, which will not decompose. Grubbing works best if you have to remove stump of a tree fewer than 14 inches in diameter. Larger trees, or trees with a tap root, such as pine or hickory, are more difficult to remove.

Things You'll Need

  • Grubbing hoe
  • Mattock
  • Axe
  • Winch and cable
  • Chain saw
  • Drill
  • 1 inch drill bit
  • Balanced, granulated (10-10-10) fertilizer
  • Powdered milk
  • Mulch
  • Topsoil
  • Garden hoe


  • LSU Ag Center: Stump Removal from Home Grounds
  • Colorado State University: Stump removal
  • University of Minnesota Extension:Removing Trees and Shrubs

Who Can Help

  • NC State University: Twigs and Branches - Stumps
  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: Vanishing Stumps
Keywords: stump removal, rotting a stump, grubbing a stump

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."