How to Remove Tree Stumps


When you remove a tree from your property, it leaves behind a reminder: the stump. If the tree was small or in a remote location, the stump may not pose a problem, but large stumps in strategic places can be unsightly or hazardous. There are several ways to remove tree stumps and the methods vary in speed and effort required.

Step 1

Forget it. If your stump is not in a direct traffic path or mowed area, consider cutting it as close to the ground as possible and leaving it in place. It will, in time, rot away.

Step 2

Decorate it. Use your stump as a pedestal for a planter or small statue. It will increase the visibility of the stump, preventing accidental contact with bare feet or lawn mower blades and add a unique but temporary accent to your landscape.

Step 3

Dig it. If the stump is less than 4 inches across, you can dig it out with a spade. Dig a 2 foot deep trench around the stump, at least 1 foot from the center of the stump. Insert the spade or a landscape pry bar under the root ball to loosen and break the roots. Pry the root ball all the way around the perimeter. Remove the root ball and stump and back fill the hole.

Step 4

Use a chemical stump remover. According to the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, chemical removers include potassium nitrate or saltpeter, sulphuric acid and nitric acid, but, they caution, "some chemicals have been ineffective." Grubbing (digging) is the most effective method.

Step 5

Accelerate decomposition. Drill several holes in the stump with a 1/2 inch drill bit. Cover the stump with soil and keep it well-watered and fertilized.

Step 6

Employ a stump grinder. Stump grinders are available as many tool rental centers. These are large and heavy tools and if their use is beyond your capabilities, there are professional stump grinding companies available to take on the job for you. Stump grinding is fast and effective but can be costly.

Tips and Warnings

  • Burning is not recommended. It is illegal in many areas and it can cause a dense charcoal by-product that decomposes very slowly.

Things You'll Need

  • Spade and pry bar
  • Chemical stump remover
  • Drill and 1/2 inch bit
  • Stump grinder
  • Herbicide


  • Louisiana State University Ag Center: Stump Removal
  • University of Minnesota Extension: Stumps
Keywords: remove tree stumps, stump grinder, chemical stump remover

About this Author

Moira Clune is a freelance writer who since 1991 has been writing sales and promotional materials for her own and other small businesses. In addition, she has published articles on, and