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5 Ways to Remove a Tree Stump

You eliminated the tree that just didn’t work in your yard, but now you have the stump to contend with. Surprisingly, removing it is no easy task.  In fact, it’s left you, well — stumped. 

But never fear, if you need to know how to remove a tree stump, we’ve got you covered. And while you may ultimately decide to call in a professional, you do have options.

But before we go into the different options, let’s take a look at your tree stump and its unique characteristics.

Does it have a deep root system? Is the stump small, medium, or large? Large tree stumps may not come out as easily as smaller ones with some of these methods.

And why do you want to get rid of it? Is it the remnant of a tree removal job? Is it an old stump that you are ready to take out … or perhaps an eyesore that you are ready to eliminate?

If this is the case, then you may want to choose one of the fast tree stump removal methods.

Once you have the details and reasoning behind the stump removal, you’re ready to choose your tree stump killer. Here are the five popular methods, including your DIY options.

No. 1: Use Chemicals

Using chemicals to remove a tree stump is the least labor-intensive way to get rid of it. However, this process does take time, especially if the size of the stump is large.

In some cases, it could take up to a year for the stump removal process to be complete because you are literally rotting the pesky stump. But the good news is that this method is inexpensive if you already have a chainsaw and drill.

The materials you need to purchase will cost you less than $20. Here are our five picks for stump removal chemicals.

To get your tree stump out this way, you’ll need the following:

  • A chainsaw and a drill
  • Potassium nitrate
  • Plastic tarp
  • Garden mulch
  • An ax

How to Remove a Tree Stump Using Chemicals

Once you’ve got your materials, you can begin. But remember, when you use a chemical stump remover, be patient as it will take at least four weeks in most cases to see results. If you are looking for a way to rot a tree stump fast, this is it. Normally, it takes three to seven years for a stump to rot.

Step 1: Using your chainsaw, take off as much of the stump that’s above ground level as possible. Be sure to have protective safety gear on such as safety goggles and steel toe boots.

Step 2: Next, it’s time to drill holes through what is left of the tree stump. Space the holes closely together and use the largest drill bit that you can. Go as deep and wide as you can with these holes.

Step 3: Fill the holes using water first, then add the potassium nitrate. You could also use another type of fertilizer high in nitrogen, or even stump remover granules designed for this process.

Step 4: Soak the ground all around the tree stump with water to get it nice and saturated, then cover the area with a plastic tarp. The tarp will help to keep moisture in and accelerate the rotting process.

Step 5: Cover the tarp with mulch, preferably an organic variety and water again to help retain moisture and soak the area.

Step 6: Check on the progress periodically and add more water and nitrogen to your tree stump, then recover with mulch and more water.

Step 7:  After four to six weeks have passed, your tree stump should become spongy. If so, you can use an ax to speed up the process and remove portions of the tree stump. If enough of it comes loose, you can cover what remains with dirt, and create a flower bed or even plant grass seed. If the stump is still firm, repeat the process.

If you discover that the old tree stump hasn’t progressed as far as you’d like, you can always move on to the burn method listed below.

Or, if you want to avoid harsh chemicals, fuel oil, or anything else that’s not natural, you could use the Epsom salt method. Follow the steps above but switch out Epsom salt for the potassium nitrate.

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