How to Treat Tree Stumps


Removing unwanted trees can be a costly project when hiring a tree and stump removal company. Stumps can be removed through chemical treatment if you are patient in waiting for the chemicals to kill the vascular system of the tree. Treat freshly cut tree stumps in the late spring and early summer once the upward flow of sap has ceased, as this will give the best results.

Step 1

Cut the tree down to a short stump level and remove all wood and debris from the area.

Step 2

Apply a generous amount of water to open the cambium layer which will carry the herbicide chemicals to the roots. The cambium layer is the layer next to the bark of the tree.

Step 3

Sever the roots of the tree with a saw or ax if there are other trees planted in close proximity. Tree roots will sometimes share the same vascular system which will cause the chemical treatment to spread and kill other trees.

Step 4

Apply a systematic herbicide to the stump immediately after cutting. Herbicides containing triclopyr or glyphosate are systematic and will travel through the vascular system of the plant.

Step 5

Wait several months to evaluate the process. Repeat the application of herbicide if necessary. Additional treatments of herbicide will increase the risk of damaging other vegetative growth around the stump. Most tree stumps will rot on their own if you are patient. The rotted stump can then be pulled out of the ground.

Things You'll Need

  • Chainsaw
  • Ax or hand saw
  • Systemic herbicide
  • Protective eyewear
  • Protective gloves


  • Washington State University Extension: Chemical Control for Woody Plants, Stumps and Trees
  • University of Minnesota Extension: Removing Trees and Shrubs
Keywords: removing stumps, chemical stump treatment, killing stumps

About this Author

Jennifer Loucks has over 10 years of experience as a former technical writer for a software development company in Wisconsin. Her writing experience includes creating software documentation and help documents for clients and staff along with training curriculum. Loucks holds a Bachelor of Science major from the University of Wisconsin - River Falls specializing in animal science and business.