The Best Way to Remove Old Tree Stumps


Once a tree has been removed from a property, there is always a stump left behind. The question of what to do with that stump is possibly one of the most annoying questions that a homeowner must deal with. Because the majority of a tree stump is buried, stump removal is possibly more labor intensive than removing a tree itself. According to Louisiana State University, your goals for sump removal will determine the best way to remove a stump. While digging a stump, a process known as grubbing, is the fastest method, it is also the most labor-intensive. Rotting a stump takes more time, but it is also the easiest method.

Grubbing a Tree Stump

Step 1

Dig a hole around the circumference of the stump that is 4 foot wide by 2 foot deep, with a mattock. Cut through any roots you encounter while digging the stump up, using the mattock, an ax or a pair of branch loppers.

Step 2

Push the stump on its side to expose the roots underneath the stump.

Step 3

Cut through the roots, holding the stump into the ground.

Step 4

Lift the stump out of the hole. Twist the stump as you go to sever the roots.

Step 5

Fill in the hole left by the stump with soil to smooth out the depression.

Rotting a Tree Stump

Step 1

Cut the stump at ground level.

Step 2

Drill a series of 1-inch holes in a ring around the edge of the stump.

Step 3

Drill a second set of holes into the stump at a 45 degree angle from the first set of holes. This second set should intersect the first set near the base of each hole.

Step 4

Spread a high-nitrogen fertilizer (10-0-0) over the stump.

Step 5

Water the stump to keep it damp, but not wet. The water will create an environment for microbes to thrive, while the fertilizer will feed them.

Step 6

Pour a mixture of granulated sugar and water over the stump after 1 year to feed the microbes and speed decay.

Tips and Warnings

  • Although burying a stump is an easy method to get rid of the stump, it can create a sink hole once the stump rots. Many cities prohibit burying stumps within city limits. Check with your city officials before burying a stump.

Things You'll Need

  • Chainsaw
  • Mattock
  • Ax
  • Branch loppers
  • Drill and 1-inch drill bit
  • Garden hose
  • Nitrogen fertilizer (10-0-0)
  • Sugar


  • Louisiana State Univeristy Extension: Stump Removal from Home Grounds
  • Alabama Cooperative Extension Service:Stump Removal for Homeowners
  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: Vanishing Stumps

Who Can Help

  • Colorado State Univeristy Extension: Stump Removal
Keywords: rotting a stump, cutting out stumps, stump removal

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."