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3 Ways To Remove Tree Stumps On Your Own

April 26, 2023
3 Ways To Remove Tree Stumps On Your Own
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There is a myriad of reasons why you’d need a stump removal, landscape renovation, for example. The truth is, stumps can get in the way of the rest of your landscaping. When you get down to it, a stump does little for you- it’s no longer a beautiful tree. It does still has an interconnected system of roots beneath it that can wreak havoc on your plumbing. This can prohibit your ability to maintain your yard. Anyone that’s tried to dig through tree roots understands the challenge of doing so. While stump removal is an arduous task, this article will help you if you decide to remove a stump on your own.

Stump Removal by Hand

If you’re a glutton for punishment, then removing a tree stump by hand is always an option. Tree stumps can be removed with brute force. Even so, tree roots can be pervasive, go deep and far into the earth, and are hardy and resilient. With a lot of elbow grease, you can remove that stump using only a few simple tools.

Dig Around the Stump, Revealing the Roots

Your first order of business is to dig around the radius of the stump with a shovel to reveal the roots. It’s best if you put on a pair of protective gloves to keep your hands as blister-free as possible.

You need to use your shovel to dig around the roots of your stump to reveal the tips of each root. You may find that the root system is too thick and too numerous to expose with a shovel. In this case, it’s best to quit while the quitting’s good. You can turn to some of the more industrious stump-removal methods below.

Use a Sturdy Axe to Cut Through the Root System

You first need to expose the stump’s root system. Then, you’ll want to take a sharp, sturdy ax and cut through the roots around the parameter of the stump. As you cut, try to pull free any roots that you’d dislodged through your ax work. Be mindful of where you strike. Striking too deep into a root all-at-once will get your ax stuck, exhausting you faster. And if you’ve ever hit a rock with an ax, you know to avoid doing that as well. It can shatter your ax blade, sending metal flying in all directions.

Dislodge Any Remaining Roots with a Mattock

Whether you call it a mattock, a pickaxe, or a “grub hoe”, use the flat end of this tool to pry out the remaining roots. Use the steep angle and your body weight to your advantage and let your tool do most of the work. As you go, you’ll more than likely find that you need to go back to your ax to loosen up a few pesky roots. If you’ve done a thorough job of cutting, then the roots should give way with the power of your mattock.

Pry Out the Stump

If you performed careful work, then prying out the stump will be the easy part. Simply thrust your shovel under the stump. If you were exhaustive in your cutting and prying, it should come right up.

Fill in the Hole

Don’t celebrate too early and leave a garish hole in place of your tree stump. Be sure to fill in the crater left by the stump and pack the earth down well. If you have the tools at your disposal, fill the hole with sawdust after tossing that old stump in a wood chipper. If not, then be sure to use some loam to fill the hole. If you pack the hole with earth it will eventually settle. This will put a dent in your lawn that you could have avoided.

Stump Removal Using a Grinder

Removing a stump by hand can be a lot of unnecessary work. In that case, a stump grinder is your best friend when it comes to DIY stump removal. Most of us can’t claim to own a stump remover, as it’s not exactly a common power tool in the average homeowner’s arsenal. However, any rental yard should have one available for a day rental and the price shouldn’t break the bank. Grinding a stump is a straightforward process that isn’t as strenuous as removal by hand.

Rent a Grinder & Requisite Personal Protective Equipment

Head over to your local big box hardware store or your equipment rental yard to pick up a stump grinder. While you’re there, ensure you buy the required PPE to keep you and your body safe while grinding. You’ll want to get the following:

  • Protective eyewear
  • Ear protectors
  • Gloves

It’s reasonable if the idea of using a power tool meant to grind through wood seems daunting. If so, then consider contacting a landscaping company. They’ll have the tool on-hand and will do a great job without you getting your hands dirty.

Start Grinding

Once you’re wearing your protective gear, turn the grinder on and get started. You’ll want to work your way from the top of the stump and grind downward. By carefully moving down the root system, you ensure you get every piece of the root. Stump grinders should be able to penetrate the soil down to about one foot. This ensures that you reach even the deepest roots.

Keep in mind that you’re operating a powerful and dangerous tool. With that said, read the included manual cover to cover. Each model may have its specific operating procedure. It’s important you have a thorough understanding of how exactly your stump grinder should be used.

Excavate the Aftermath

Once you’re done grinding, you’ll find that you don’t have a hole. Using a grinder, leaves a crater filled with chunks of wood and dislodged earth. Your yard doesn’t want to be filled with chewed-up wood and strands of root. To do a thorough stump grinding drop, make sure you shovel out the aftermath.

Fill in the Hole

While it’s completely appropriate to fill the resulting crater with sawdust, the debris you created with your grinding is not sawdust. Dispose of the stump debris and fill the hole with real sawdust or with loam. This ensures it stays level as the soil settles.

Using a Stump Removal Chemical

Sometimes it can be satisfying to commit chemical warfare in the battle of taming our yard. While chemical removal is much easier than removal by hand, there is still some labor involved at the end. Enlisting the help of a chemical remover is probably the best option.

Drill an Even Array of Holes into the Stump

Using a drill with a large drill bit, create an array of deep holes in the top of the tree stump. Space these holes in an even manner. The holes will be what facilitates the penetration of your stump removal chemical into the stump itself. The more thorough you drill, the better the chances of complete stump decomposition.

Apply a Stump Remover Chemical

Most stump removal chemicals come in the form of a power, which consists of potassium nitrate. The potassium nitrate will chemically rot the wood while penetrating the entire mass. As with the use of any dangerous chemical, read the instruction before application. You’ll want to keep pets and children away from the stump while treating it.

Let the Chemical Work its Magic

The potassium nitrate will take around 3-4 weeks to fully rot the stump. After that it is ready to removal. After 4 weeks, you should see that the stump is soft, rotten, and pliable. At this point, some quick work with an ax and a little elbow grease should remove all the surface of the stump. Afterward, a mattock can dislodge the weakened root system.

Fill in the Hole

No matter the method, filling your hole is all the same. You need to fill in the resultant crater with either sawdust or loam to ensure the soil doesn’t settle and sink.

Tree Stumps Are Pervasive & Tenacious

There is no “easy” way to remove a tree stump. Be it by hand, a grinder, or with chemicals, you’re still going to labor over the process. Yet, the hard work can be a gratifying experience when it’s all done.

Of course, many of us don’t have the time or the inclination to do this job ourselves. The easiest thing to do is to consult a lawn care provider. Tree stump removal is just another day for them. Moreover, they have the experience to ensure that, when the stump is gone, your yard is none the worse for wear.

Earth Development is a leading provider of professional landscaping services. For more than 20 years, we’ve provided industries of all types with individualized solutions for landscape construction, bed maintenance, and more.

For more information, to get a free quote, or to speak to one of our friendly team members, don’t hesitate to get in touch! You can get a quote online, or give us a call!

Eddy Zakes
Eddy is a distinguished expert in the snow removal and landscaping industry, boasting over 20 years of experience. As an Advanced Snow Manager certified by the Snow and Ice Management Association (SIMA), he is dedicated to upholding the highest industry standards. His strong commitment to excellence and relentless pursuit of improvement makes him a trusted voice in the snow removal and landscaping.
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