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Tree Root Removal

Sometimes a tree and its roots can become invasive, requiring the removal of the tree, stump and roots. Once you cut down the tree, the roots die within a few days to a few weeks, depending on the tree and your area. Removing the stump helps speed up the death of the tree and its roots, allowing you to cover the area with new landscaping or turf.

Grinders and Augers

Rent a gas-powered stump grinder to remove the tree stump once you cut down the tree. The grinder uses carbide teeth on the flywheel to slowly grind the stump down 6 to 12 inches below the soil surface. Fill the hole left by the stump grinder with topsoil. Rent an electrical powered sewer auger to clear your pipes of any roots that have invaded your drain lines once you have removed the tree stump. The rotating head of the auger cuts through the dead roots and removes them once the auger retracts.

Decay and Rot

Let the stump rot away and decompose over time if you are in no hurry to remove it. The stump should be cut close to ground level and kept covered with soil or mulch to help encourage stump decay. You can drill several large holes into the stump and add nitrogen fertilizer to help speed up the decaying process. As the stump rots, the roots die and decompose beneath the soil surface.

Compound Chemicals

Use of chemicals can help in rapid decomposition of the tree stump, but the chemicals used can be poisonous and dangerous to children, pets and wildlife. You must drill several holes in the stump and pour potassium nitrate, sulfuric acid, nitric acid or sodium disulfite into the holes. The number of holes varies with the size of the stump. These chemicals are sold as stump removers, and you should carefully follow the directions of your product choice. Once you kill the stump, pour copper sulfate crystals in your toilet and flush to kill and remove any roots that may be in your sewer lines if that is the reason for removing the tree.

Manual Removal

Digging the tree stump from the ground along with some of the surrounding roots is always an option. This can require a shovel, grub hoe, loppers and a root saw. Dig down and around the stump approximately 1 to 2 feet to expose the roots and cut through them to release the stump. Larger stumps may require the use of a backhoe to pull the stump from the ground. The roots you cannot remove will rot and decay under the surface of the soil.


Burning is another option to remove the stump and kill the roots, but local ordinances may not allow this procedure. Check local codes before attempting. Use kindling and small pieces of dried wood to start a fire over your stump. You must babysit the stump as it burns, adding additional wood until the stump is actually burning. You need to stay with the stump until it has burned completely or until the fire goes out. Do not attempt this on a windy day or near buildings. The stump could burn for two or three weeks, so take that time into consideration before starting your fire.

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