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How to Remove an Oak Tree Stump

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The magnificent oak provides shade and timber for people as well as shelter and food for a multitude of birds and animals. Oaks can live for hundreds of years, reaching a height and spread of more than 70 feet at maturity. If you've had to cut one down, chances are it wasn't sick, just planted in the wrong place. Because oaks have a large root system, their stumps are a challenge to remove. If hiring a tree service isn't an option, you can remove it yourself.

Put on a pair of canvas gloves and safety glasses to protect your hands from blistering and your eyes from flying wood chips. You'll be wielding, a shovel, hatchet and ax for quite a while, especially if the stump is larger than 14 inches in diameter.

Dig a circular trench around the stump, about 2 feet from its outer edge. Make the trench about 2 feet wide and 2 feet deep. Scrape the soil away from the large roots as you find them. You may be able to cut through some of the smaller ones with the point of the shovel.

Chop through large roots with the ax. Plant your feet wide apart, bringing the ax down hard between and in front of them. Use a hatchet on smaller roots. This may take some time, as oak is an extremely hard wood and the roots will be tough.

Dig down and in toward the central tap root, prying the stump up with the shovel to loosen it. Rock it back and forth, and if you're lucky, the tap root will snap. If it doesn't, dig deeper on one side until you have enough room to chop through it with the hatchet.

Pull out the oak stump when all the roots are cut. Backfill the hole with soil, adding more soil to fill in for the displaced stump.


Stumps can be left to decay if grubbing them out isn't an option. Drill holes in the stump and fill them with soil, then cover the entire stump with soil and keep it moist to speed up the decaying process.


Don't allow yourself to become distracted when swinging an axe or hatchet. Keep your feet wide apart and well clear of the blade at all times.

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