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How to Remove Shrub Stumps

The method you’ll use to remove shrub stumps will depend on how large the stumps are and how many you need to remove. Shrub stump removal techniques can range from relatively simple to back-breaking to expensive. When selecting the way in which you’ll remove shrub stumps, you’ll also need to factor in how quickly you want the stumps removed and how much physical labor you’re able to perform. For any stump-removal technique, be sure to first cut the stump as close to the ground as possible using a chainsaw or hacksaw.

Apply a Stump-Removal Chemical

Drill a series of 10 to 15 holes into the shrub stump using a small drill bit. Drill the holes around the entire circumference of the stump.

Inject a commercially-made stump-decay chemical into the drilled holes in the stump. Follow the directions on the label exactly.

Allow the chemical to decompose the shrub stump for about 8 to 12 weeks. Remove the softened, decayed shrub stump with a shovel and pickaxe or by burning it.

Burn Out the Stumps

Cover the top of the shrub stump with dry scrap wood mixed with some greener wood.

Light the scrap wood on fire. Avoid using gasoline or any igniter fuel, as this will cause the scrap wood to burn too quickly.

Allow the scrap wood to burn until the stump itself begins to burn. Keep the fire going until the entire stump has burned down, adding scrap wood as needed.

Cover the burned-out hole with soil after the stump has burned away completely, to allow the decay of the root system to proceed. Or, you can dig out the roots of the shrub with a shovel to remove them.

Dig Out the Stumps with a Shovel

Cover the shrub stump with soil. Allow the stump to decay naturally for at least two or three months.

Uncover the shrub stump. Break up and remove the rotted stump with a shovel or pickaxe.

Dig a trench in a wide circle around the stump. Remove the sod with a shovel to expose the shrub’s root system.

Break up and dig out the roots of the stump within the trench circle with a shovel and pickaxe. Continue until you’ve removed all the roots and remaining stump.

Use a Stump Grinder

Remove all rocks and debris from around the shrub stump. Position the stump grinder so that the grinder wheel is two inches directly above the shrub stump.

Start the stump grinder so that the wheel is spinning and lower the wheel, using the hydraulic lever, down three to four inches into the stump. Move the wheel from side to side, digging down into the stump.

Move the stump grinder forward and repeat the grinding process until the entire stump has been pulverized by the grinder wheel. Rake away the wood chips and fill in the hole with soil.


If you have several large shrub stumps to remove quickly, your best bet is to rent a stump grinder. Be sure to wear gloves and eye protection when operating a stump grinder or chainsaw.


Always check with your local fire department before burning out stumps. You may need a burn permit, and some districts prohibit fires during certain times of year or during droughts.

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