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How To Remove Tree Stumps From The Ground

Posted 4/12/2013 by Aspen Rent-All.
Filed under: How To's | Landscaping Advice


remove stumps from the ground 1There are many methods to removing a tree stump from the ground; some are back breaking, some are plain foolish and others, with a little planning and the right tools, can minimize the effort you need to dedicate to the task. Let’s take a look at the different methods of tree stump removal and the tools you need for the job. But first of all, why would you need to remove a tree stump from the ground?

Reasons for stump removal

One of the most common reasons for stump removal is landscape improvement. Now, the best way to remove stumps from the ground is to do so before you begin any landscaping. But sometimes this is not possible, especially if you are renovating a recently purchased property.

The stump as well as the roots may continue to grow and this growth could be pushing up cement areas, fences or even house foundations. This is another reason why you would need to remove stumps from the ground. Termites also love the wood of the stump, both on top of and inside the ground. A termite problem is a nightmare for any gardener and they can quickly relocate to the interior of a house if the problem is not addressed within a reasonable time period.

Methods of tree stump removal

Stump Grinder

remove stumps from the groundThe preferred method of tree stump removal is grinding. A stump grinder will shave the stump continuously until the required depth is accomplished. Here is how to successfully use a stump grinder from start to finish.

Step One: Begin by using a mattock or shovel to remove all rocks located around the base of the stump. Any rocks that are not removed will dull the teeth of the stump grinder.

Step Two: Use a chainsaw to bring the stump closer to the ground. This is not essential and you can potentially start using the stump grinder straight away. But using a chainsaw will speed up the job considerably.

Step Three: Use the hydraulic level of the stump grinder to position the wheel a few inches above the stump. Place the grinder so that the wheel is directly over the front edge of the stump. Start the wheel spinning and slower begin to lower it approximately 3 inches into the stump. Use the hydraulic level to gently swing the spinning wheel from side to side to clear out the wood. Once you have cleared 4 inches of wood, raise the wheel and repeat the process. If is vitally important that you stay at the control panel and well away from the spinning wheel.

Step Four: Continue to grind away at the stump until you have a hole in the ground at least 4 inches in depth. This will remove the stump and the major roots. The other roots can be removed by hand and should become free with little effort. Rake up all of your wood chips and fill the hole with topsoil.

Step Five: Lightly tamp and rake the soil. Spread a layer of grass seed and proceed to rake the seeds into the soil. Water the seeds and cover the area with mulch. Then sit back, relax and congratulate yourself on a job well done.

It is possible to use the stump chips mixed with dirt to fill the hole. But if you disposed of the stump because of infestation or disease, all stump chips should be properly disposed of.

Other methods of stump removal

By hand

Sometimes this method is the only way to remove a stump without causing damage to the surrounding area. Removing a stump by hand is hard work. This method is easiest when a large portion of the trunk is in place and can be used as leverage or as a point of attachment to pull the stump out. The trick to removing stumps from the ground by hand is to expose as much of the roots as possible. Once the area around the roots is exposed, use a mattock to slice and chop through the roots and loosen the soil. Once the majority of the roots have been broken, use a sledgehammer to strike the stump. This should break the remaining roots and expose others. Look for the new roots and continue to sever. Then push the stump over and remove.


remove stumps from the ground 4Burning out a tree stump is a method that requires far less effort than removing the stump by hand. Here is how you do it. Use a chainsaw to cut the stump as close as possible to the ground and proceed to drill several holes. Use a 1 inch spade bit to drill 1 inch holes about 12 inches deep roughly 3 to 4 inches from the edge of the stump. Next, drill more holes at a 45-degree angle on the exterior of the stump to connect with the vertical holes. These will act as ventilation and expedite the process.

Pour kerosene or fuel oil into the holes. Do not use gasoline. Wait until the liquid has completely penetrated the stump. This can take a few weeks. Once penetration is complete, drop a match into the holes to start the burning process. This is obviously a dangerous method, so take precautions. Surround the stump in chicken wire and remove all debris and leaves from the area and most importantly, keep an eye on it. It is wise to check with the fire department before you begin this process to ensure you are in compliance with local ordinances.


remove stumps from the ground 3The decomposition method is preferable if time is not a constraint. Although rotting takes the most time, it is the cheapest, easiest and safest way to remove a stump from the ground. Just like the burning method you should cut the stump down using a chainsaw and drill vertical holes into the area. But this time the holes should be as wide as possible. The holes expose the area and increase decay. Keep the stump moist, but do not over saturate. Fungi requires nitrogen to attack the wood, so treat the stump with nitrogen fertilizer during the first year. Cover the stump with mulch to keep it away from sunlight and retain the moisture. The decomposition method will attract many insects. In this case you should allow them to assist in the breakdown of the stump. But again, take precaution. Termites and carpenter ants could make their way inside if the stump is close enough to your home. To reduce this likelihood, keep the area between the stump and your house free of lawn clipping and organic fragments.



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