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The Best Way to Decompose Old Stumps

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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.

Decompose Fallen Trees

Move a small fallen tree into a shaded area where the wood can stay wet and fungi are likely to thrive. Think about how mushroom fungi grow best in wet, shaded areas. Drill the holes to about 12 inches deep in large logs or as deep as possible without drilling through the opposite side of the log or branches. Add water to fill the holes to the top. This step is not necessary for the rest of the tree if you moved it into shade where it will not dry out quickly. Spray the tree and stump with a fine mist of water as needed to keep them moist. Add more stump remover to the holes as the first application soaks into the wood. Apply stump remover to the wood in the pile and keep it moist, just as you did when the tree was whole.


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.

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