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how to remove a tree stump

Remove a tree stump by hand

To remove a tree stump by hand, first, dig around the trunk to expose the major roots. Use a hand saw, reciprocation saw or chainsaw to sever the major roots from the stump. Pull the stump out with a tow strap and vehicle. For smaller stumps, you can use a digging bar to pry the stump out. A handyman jack works great as well.Fill the hole with dirt and dispose of the stump.

If the tree stump is in a flower bed or garden you shouldn’t till or plow. The latest research shows its bad for your soil health. When tree removal specialist grinds out a stump they only grind the stump down a couple inches below the level of the soil.

So why should you exert all the effort of removing a tree stump down so far? You don’t need to.

All you really need is for the stump to be below the level of the soil. I just removed one of my tree stumps by hand and I was able to do it in about 20 minutes. Heres how I did it.

1. Remove dirt or grass around the stump.

My stump was in my lawn so I removed the sod around the tree stump in a 2-foot diameter circle. I only dug down maybe 3 to 4 inches.

2. Cut the stump.

Setting the sod to the side I used a cordless reciprocating saw and started cutting the stump at about 3 inches below the level of my grass.

You could also use a chainsaw or a hand saw. If you use a chainsaw you may want to dig a bigger deeper hole. Be careful not to get your chain into the dirt or hit rocks because it will dull your chain fast.

If you are using a reciprocating saw then it helps to have one of the longer blades made for cutting wood. I worked my way cutting around the whole stump.

I wasn’t able to get to the middle of the stump so I used a sledgehammer to finish the job. It was nice that I left the stump a little tall so I had more leverage to break it off.

3. Replace the dirt or grass.

Once it broke off and all I did was replace the sod back to and covered the stump with a little dirt and some sod I dug up in another part of my yard. You could get a scrap piece of sod from a sod farm or just throw a little seed down.

You could just leave it and let the grass do the job. It will eventually grow in and cover the stump.

That’s it. Pretty fast and easy. The stump is only a few inches below the soil but over time the fungi in the soil will decompose the rest of the stump and give all the nutrients to the grass.

4. Recycle the stump.

In fact, a cool technique I have used in my garden is called hugelkultur beds. Basically, you bury a bunch of wood and grow stuff on top of it. The buried wood acts as a sponge for water and feeds the roots of your plants all the food and water they need with little watering on your part.

The stump under your grass should do the same. So instead of hauling off tree stump just bury it and plant stuff on top.

Removing A Stump With Potassium Nitrate

Potassium Nitrate is really kind of like a salt. It is actually a preservative used in making jerky. Great we have all eaten stump remover! The common product names you can buy are Blondie Stump Out or Spectracide Stump Remover.

I bought some of both but after reading the instructions wasn’t convinced it would work. So I made some sugar rockets with my kids instead. The product says it accelerates decomposition. So instead of taking 10 years to rot your stump, it should only take 5…jk. Ok enough of my soapbox.

To rot a stump with potassium Nitrate drill holes around the stump and fill with Stump out or Stump Remover. Its funny I looked for a video on Youtube with someone actually doing this and there is none there. Probably because it doesn’t work.

Removing A Stump With Bleach

I haven’t tried this but I don’t think it will work either because fungi are what decomposes stumps and bleach will kill fungi.

I have seen people use bleach on stumps to make some cool bleached stump tables. It turns the wood a white color and that’s about it.

I wrote an article of all my research about killing a tree stump with bleach check it out.

Using Muriatic Acid To Dissolve A Tree Stump

Muriatic Acid is pretty toxic so I would avoid ever using it. Wikipedia said, “Both the mist and the solution have a corrosive effect on human tissue, with the potential to damage respiratory organs, eyes, skin, and intestines irreversibly.”

Yikes, stay away from this stuff even though it probably would dissolve your stump. Just make sure it doesn’t dissolve your lungs while you are at it. Im sure napalm would dissolve your stump too but that doesn’t mean you should use it.

High Nitrogen Fertilizer For Stump Removal

Pouring high nitrogen fertilizer on a stump is said to rot a stump faster. I read it can still take 3 to 5 years. I think it will actually slow down the decomposition process because nitrogen fertilizer kills fungi and fungi is what actually decomposes stumps.

Burning A Stump

Now, this is a good way to remove a stump by hand. However, your stump needs to be dry and if you are in the middle of the city you may not be able to have a large smoky fire in your yard. Just check with your local fire department. Here are some of the best ways to remove a stump with fire.

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