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The Best Way to Decompose Old Stumps

By Nicole Fotheringham
Stump removers work best on stumps that are a year or two old.
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Tree stumps in your garden can be unsightly and are difficult to dispose of. You can grind them down, but this takes a stump grinder and a lot of elbow grease. You can burn them, but this will not be possible in most residential areas as you will need to leave the stump to smolder for several days. The best way to remove a stump is to help the natural process of decomposition. Stump removers contain potassium nitrate, which aids in stump decomposition and are available at garden or home centers.

Saw the stump off as close to the ground as possible.

Drill holes that are 1 inch in diameter around the stump, about 3 to 4 inches from the top. Drill the holes to a depth of 12 inches.

Drill holes into the top of the stump to intersect with the perimeter holes. Drill the top holes at a 45-degree angle, 3 or 4 inches from the rim of the stump.

Pour the stump remover into the holes and fill them with water. Leave the stump to rot for several weeks. Keep children and pets away. You can do this by covering the stump with chicken wire.

Chop away rotten wood with an axe.


Things You Will Need

  • Stump remover
  • Chainsaw
  • Drill
  • 1-inch spade drill bit
  • Chicken wire
  • Axe


  • Keep pets and children away from the rotting stump as chemicals may not be good for them.
  • Wear protective eye wear, gloves and steel toe boots when using an axe.

About the Author


Nicole Fotheringham has been a writer since 1997. She was born in South Africa and began as a reporter for the "Natal Mercury" and "Cape Argus" newspapers. Fotheringham has a master's degree in English literature from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.