A Tree Stump In A Grassy Area
(Image credit: kirisa99)

While trees are a natural part of the landscape, they may sometimes require removal for whatever reason. Once removed, homeowners are often left with nothing more than an unsightly stump. However, with a little know how, you can find an easy way to remove tree stumps that will have your landscape looking as nice as it did before.

How to Kill a Tree Stump Using Chemicals

Some people choose chemical control for tree stump removal. Potassium nitrate, sulphuric acid, and nitric acid are the most commonly used but should only be used by those with experience and with great care, following label instructions. A simpler solution may be to bore holes throughout the stump and apply salt (rock salt) and boiling water in the holes. This will help dissolve the salt so that it reaches deep into the stump, eventually killing it. Chemicals are also commonly used for controlling sucker growth produced from the roots of tree stumps. Non-selective herbicide works well for this and should be applied at the sucker's base on fresh cuts, or cut into the root itself and apply the herbicide. More than one application is often needed but this will eventually take care of the problem.

Remove a Tree Stump through Rotting

Rotting or decaying is another method for tree stump removal. Keeping the stump moist, not wet, and adding some nitrogen fertilizer will help encourage fungi, which will aid in its decay, especially in warmer temps, from 60 on up to 90 degrees F. (15-32 C.). To speed up the decaying process, cut the stump as close to ground level as possible and drill 1 inch (2.5 cm.) holes throughout the stump prior to adding the fertilizer and spraying down with water. Cover this with plastic or a tarp to hold in moisture and temps. Keep in mind that trees like cedar, mulberry, and locust will take longer to decay, as these trees have harder wood. At any rate, sufficient decay is usually evident within a year or two.

Get Rid of Trees Stumps by Burning

Burning can be used to get rid of tree stumps, but this method is rarely done except by professional landscaping and tree removers. Burning tree stumps can take up to a week or two to thoroughly burn and may not be permitted in most areas due to fire codes. Note: This method should not be attempted nearby other dwellings or wooded areas.

Digging: The Easy Way to Remove Tree Stumps

Considered the quickest and easiest method, digging tree stumps out of the ground (by professionals) is often recommended. Though it may be somewhat expensive, it can be done within a matter of hours, or even minutes, using specialized machinery like stump grinders. Smaller stumps can be dug out with a spade shovel or pick axe. When all else fails, you can actually turn an old tree stump into an asset. I have used them many times as pedestals for container plants. You can also use a hollowed out stump as the container itself. Note: Any recommendations pertaining to the use of chemicals are for informational purposes only. Chemical control should only be used as a last resort, as organic approaches are safer and more environmentally friendly

Nikki Tilley
Senior Editor

Nikki Tilley has been gardening for nearly three decades. The former Senior Editor and Archivist of Gardening Know How, Nikki has also authored six gardening books.