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How to Destroy Tree Stumps

Homeowners will periodically need to remove trees from their yard, and the remaining stump can create an eyesore or obstacle if not completely removed. Stumps can be removed through chemical rotting, grubbing the stump out of the ground, or hiring a company to grind the stump remains. Chemically treating a stump works on stumps larger in diameter than 14 inches but requires patience as the process takes several months. Grubbing a stump works best on stumps smaller than 14 inches in diameter. Grinding the stump is the most costly option but works on all stump sizes.

Chemical Removal

Drill holes that are 1-inch wide and 12-inches deep into the top of the stump. Place each hole at a distance of 1-inch apart. Drill 45-degree angled holes around the perimeter of the stump if it is sticking out of the ground.

Pour 4 oz. of stump remover chemical into each of the holes, followed by enough water to fill the entire hole. Stump remover chemicals are available at hardware and garden stores. Verify the amount of chemical needed by thoroughly reading the manufacturer's instructions.

Let the stump chemicals work for four to six weeks. The stump will show visual signs of rotting. Destroy the stump with an ax once it is soft enough to easily break up.

Grubbing Removal

Use the grubbing method on 3 to 4-foot tall stumps. Dig a trench that's 1 to 2 feet wide and 1 to 2 feet deep around the base of the stump.

Cut the lateral root system with an ax or saw. Remove additional dirt from the root system if necessary.

Place a pry bar under the stump. Pry and rock the stump back and forth to loosen the root system.

Cut any roots that are holding the stump in place by chopping with an ax or using a tree pruner. Pull the stump and attached roots out of the ground.

Fill the hole left by the stump with topsoil and pack in place.


Stump remover is a powdered chemical composed of potassium nitrate. Wear protective gear on eyes and hands while using chemicals. Pour kerosene into the holes instead of stump remover chemical if you prefer to burn the stump. Use caution while burning and keep a fire extinguisher nearby. Do not burn during the dry months of the year.

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