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Simple Tree Stump Removal

An unwanted tree is standing in the way of your property project and so, you’ve bravely decided to take it upon yourself to remove it. Consider this the project before the project. To your surprise, you have managed to cut down the tree without damaging your property or injuring anyone, but hold off on your happy dance, because the remaining, firmly-rooted stump will also take some effort to remove. Getting rid of a tree stump is all too often the most difficult part of tree removal. The stump may not die on its own for many years because the roots will continue to feed the stump. Therefore, actions need to be taken to kill and/or remove it. So, let’s examine your options for excising what’s left of your tree.

Manual Labor

If you opt to remove the tree stump by hand, use a mattock. This tool is shaped like a pickax and the broad end will allow you to dig around the stump. You can use the other end as an axe for chopping through tree roots. Chop and dig under the root ball to expose the taproot. If your tree was particularly large, the taproot may be stubborn enought to require the use of a full sized axe. You couls also remove the stump by using a power stump grinder, but these machines are dnagerous and best operated by an experienced professional. 

Less Laborious Tactics

To hasten nature’s rotting process, you can apply liberal amounts of two ingredients: Nitrogen and water. You must first cut the stump as close to the ground as you can. Then, using your widest drill bit, drill holes three-four inches deep into the stump in numerous places. Fill the holes with water and then fertilizer that is high in nitrogen. You can also use a a brand of stump remover found at most home and garden stores, which is generally made of powdered potassium nitrate. Either of these chemicals will speed up the rotting process, but it will still take several weeks. Its a good idea to cover the treated stump with a tarp and/or mulch to hold in the moisture. The stump will eventually become spongy and you can more easily break down the rotten wood with an axe.

Many stump remover manufacturers suggest burning out the stump. To do so, pour kerosene into the holes and wait until it  completely penetrates the wood (this could take a few weeks). Drop a match into the holes to ignite the kerosene. The stump will smolder for a few days, eventually creating a charcoal-filled hole. It is dangerous to have a smoldering ember on your property, so take caution. Remove all the leaves from the area before you light a match, surround the stump with chicken wire and keep an eye on it. Again, you can use an ax to finishing the job. Be advised that some stump removers work only on older stumps that have been dead for a year or so, rather than freshly cut tree stumps.

Call a Pro

If you intend to plant another tree in the stump’s place, using chemicals is not a good idea as it will prevent the new tree from taking root and surviving. To properly remove a stump that will be replaced with another tree, a tree removal professional will use a grinder to grind the stump down 18 inches into the ground, which will allow the new tree (or grass) to grow and stay healthy.