Garden Troubles: How to Get Rid Of Tree Stumps Easily

Do you have a tree in your backyard that is diseased, dead, or dying? Knowing how to cut the tree down is the easy part. It is tree stump removal that takes a lot of time. Not only are an eyesore, but they also attract pests that spread diseases. 

Tree stump on green field

Even though stump removal is not easy, it is perfectly doable. In this article, we tell you why you need to get rid of the old stump sitting in your backyard, ways to get rid of them and how to beautify the space left behind. Without further ado, let’s get started!

Reasons to get rid of a tree stump

Once you have cut the tree, there isn’t much reason to let the stump sit around and ruin the landscape. Thinking about what is the use of removing a harmless looking stump from your yard? Well, there are various reasons why.

1. Increase the Safety of Your Property

Do children play in your yard? If there are stumps, there is a possibility that the children will trip over them. A few of the stumps are clearly visible but some get camouflaged by weeds, grass, plants, etc. These stumps become tripping hazards. Even if you don’t have children, the possibility of you or your guests falling over is always there. 

2. Prevent Pest Intervention

They are like buffets for pests. The ones in your yard is going to become a home for various sorts of pests and you will have to spend thousands of pounds trying to get rid of. 

From ants to termites, these pests could cause immense structural damage to your home. You may not even notice the pest infestation until the damage is done. Once the stump gets infected, it will spread the infection to the other healthy trees and shrubs in your garden. The fungi that thrive on dead stumps can cause health issues to pets and children as well.

Tree stump with plants around

3. Save the Look of the Property

While trees increase the beauty of a space, stumps on the other hand are eyesores. No one likes to gaze out in their yard and see old, rotting stumps all over the landscape. Once weeds and other plants start growing on them, they look even worse.

4. Stop the Tree Roots from Spreading

Even if you have cut down the tree, the stump is not going to decompose any time soon. It can remain alive for years and its root system can continue to spread beneath your soil. The roots can even grow into areas that will cause structural damage to your home.

A stump in your backyard can make it hard for you to plant and garden. Plus, it will be hard for you to weed the yard and mow the grass if there is a stump in the yard.

5. Free Up Valuable Space

Want a clean, wide yard? A stump will stop you from having that. Tree stumps make your otherwise beautiful yard look unkempt.  Once you remove it, you will be able to free up valuable space that you could then use to set up a picnic table, garden bar, plant a new tree, or create a play area or a fairy garden for the kids.

3 ways to remove a tree stump

Now that you know why you should not let that old stump sit in your yard, it’s time for you to learn how to remove it. We have listed 3 removal methods to take the tree stump out easily.

Method 1: Remove Tree Stumps Manually

If yours is small to medium-sized, you can remove it by putting in good, old-fashioned muscle work. However, for large tree stumps, this is neither practical nor possible at times. For larger stumps, you will have to use chemical stump removers

Man removes tree stump using axe

Working time

This usually depends on its size. Usually, it takes 3 to 12 hours to manually remove it.

Equipment that you will need

  • Shovel
  • Steel digging bar
  • Bow saw
  • Mattock
  • Axe
  • Working gloves
  • Steel-toed boots

Steps

  1. Use the mattock to dig around the stump.
  2. Once the dirt around the stump becomes loose, shovel the debris out of the way. The amount of soil you will have to clear depends on the size of the stump. This is necessary if you want to access all of the roots that you will be removing.
  3. Now take the bow saw and sever the major roots as they become visible.
  4. Keep digging and chopping your way under the roots of the taproot. 
  5. With the help of the axe, chop through the taproot
  6. Make sure that there are no pets or children around when you are swinging the axe. Don’t let the axe strike the dirt as it would dull the blade.
  7. If the stump isn’t budging, you can wrap a chain around the trunk and connect the other end to a pickup truck.
  8. Slowly pull forward and reverse the truck until the stump is uprooted.
  9. Ensure that you are wearing steel-toed boots when using the axe to prevent any unforeseen accidents.
  10. Fill the hole left by the stump with loam or sawdust.

Method 2: Removing the Tree Stump Chemically

If the stump is too large to be removed by hand, or if you don’t want to put in all the physical hard work and effort, you can go with this method. It is a bit slow but relatively easy. The stump will rot and decay away and you can even speed up the rotting process if you add nitrogen-based fertilizer while keeping the stump moist.

Hands cutting the stump of a tree with chainsaw

Working Time

Depending on the size of the stump, it will take you around 1 to 3 hours. The total time required for stump removal varies. This process takes quite some time – even months at a time before your stump vanishes completely.

Equipment that You Will Need

  1. Drill
  2. Chainsaw
  3. Plastic tarp
  4. High-nitrogen fertiliser or potassium nitrate (stump removal chemical)
  5. Garden mulch

Steps

  1. With the help of the chainsaw or stump grinder, cut the tree stump as much as you can. Don’t let the teeth of the chainsaw touch the ground level though, as it will dull the chain. Make sure you are wearing steel-toed boots
  2. Next, you have to drill holes into the top of the stump. Use the biggest drill bit that you have. Make sure that the holes are deep and wide.
  3. Fill the holes up with water. Let the water seep into the stump. 
  4. Now add the fertiliser or stump-remover granules into the holes.
  5. Water the ground around the stump and cover the tree stump with the plastic tarp. It will ensure that the moisture stays there. 
  6. Over the tarp, apply a layer of organic mulch. Using a wet one is a better option. It will keep the tarp in place and hide it from public view as well. You can use potted plants to cover the tarp as well.
  7. Over the next couple of weeks, you have to keep repeating this process. Remove the mulch, take the tarp off, add more water and nitrogen to the stump before covering it again. You have to be patient as this process takes some time.
  8. Once 4 to 6 weeks have passed, the stump would have become spongy and soft and you would be able to break it apart with an axe easily. If there is still some hardwood, you can treat it with water and nitrogen again until the whole stump is decayed.
  9. Cover the hole left with a ground filler such as loam or sawdust.

Method 3: Remove the Tree Stump by Burning 

You can remove the stump by burning it as well. However, you have to ensure that it is acceptable to use kerosene that way when it comes to the law.

Hand burning tree stump

Working Time

1 hour

Equipment You Will Need

  1. Kerosene
  2. Mask
  3. Gloves

Steps

  1. Soak the stump with kerosene and ignite it.
  2. You can place chopped up wood over it to keep the fire going.
  3. The stump will start to burn and smoulder.
  4. Keep adding kerosene slowly until it is completely removed.
  5. Replace the ash with sawdust or loam.

It is important that you wear protective goggles, gloves, shoes etc. when you are trying to remove the stump yourself. You can always take help from professional removal services if you don’t want to do it yourself.

What to do with the empty space?

After you remove the unsightly stump, you have to fill the hole left behind

1. Clean the Debris

Clear away any debris that is present in the hole. Use a rake or a pitchfork to clear everything out.

2. Add Top Soil

Fill the hole with topsoil. Pack the soil down with the help of a tamper. With the help of a rake, smooth the surface so that the soil blends in and looks natural. 

3. Seed the Soil

On the smooth surface, spread grass seed. Cover the spot with mulch hay, but don’t bury the seeds deep inside the soil.

4. Water the Soil

Keep watering it over time and you will see grass sprouting and covering the space. Now you can do anything you want to do with the space that you have!

Tree stump with marigold around

Most of us think that after cutting down an old tree, the job is done. However, what we forget is that removing the stumps is very important to prevent pest infestations and increase the safety of our place.

Also, it is an important part of landscaping and tree care. Go through the different DIY methods of tree stump removal that we have mentioned above and get yourself a clean, beautiful, stump-free yard!

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