How to Remove Stumps & Roots


You may think your job is completed once you've cut down a tree, but in actuality your job is only half done. If you do not kill and remove the stump and the still-living roots of the tree you've just chopped down, it is very possible that new shoots will grow from the stump or even from the roots. Fortunately there is a relatively simple way of killing and removing roots and stumps in as little as eight weeks, with only moderate effort on your part.

Step 1

Cut the stump off fairly flat at ground level.

Step 2

Drill as many 3/8 inch holes in the stump as you can, drilling them as deep as your bit.

Step 3

Fill each hole with a high nitrogen fertilizer, the higher the nitrogen content the better. Dampen the fertilizer as deep down into the holes as possible. Add more fertilizer to fill the holes to the top and add even more water. Cover the entire top of the stump with the nitrogen fertilizer, dampen it with water and then cover everything with a black plastic sheet. Weigh down the edges of the sheet.

Step 4

Remove the plastic sheet after eight weeks. The stump should be dead and signs of rotting should be evident. Sweep off any remaining fertilizer and bag it up.

Step 5

Use a stump grinder (available for rent at most hardware stores and home improvement centers) to grind the stump down to the roots. Grind as deeply as you can, at least 12 inches deep, although once you have ground away the stump the roots will die on their own.

Step 6

Fill in the hole where the stump was with soil and water lightly.

Tips and Warnings

  • Wear gloves, eye protection and ear protection when using a stump grinder. Follow all instructions for using the stump grinder.

Things You'll Need

  • Drill with 3/8 bit
  • Nitrogen-based fertilizer
  • Water
  • Black plastic sheeting
  • Gloves
  • Eye protection
  • Ear protection
  • Stump grinder


  • University of Minnesota Extension: Killing and removing Tree Stumps
Keywords: remove stumps and roots, getting rid of tree stumps, using a stump grinder

About this Author

Larry Parr has been a full-time professional freelance writer for more than 30 years. For 25 years he wrote cartoons for TV, everything from SMURFS to SPIDER-MAN.