How are tree stumps removed

How To Kill a Tree Stump (2022 Guide)

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From home remedies to professional solutions, here’s everything you need to know about getting rid of a tree stump in your yard.

Reviews by This Old House Reviews Team 10/05/2022 2:05 pm

Cutting down trees in your yard is a great way to improve the natural lighting for other plants and make way for new trees to grow. If you’ve removed a tree in your yard, you know how pesky its leftover stump can be.

While you could leave it alone, it could start to grow, sprouting annoying shoots from its roots, or it may take years to naturally rot and decompose. Try the following techniques to kill the tree stump and remove it from your yard or find a tree removal expert to take care of it for you.

Home Remedies for Tree Stump Removal

Here are a few ways you can get rid of a tree stump before getting your hands dirty with physical removal.

Epsom Salt

This is a common DIY method for killing tree trunks, as it accelerates the decomposition process to 6–12 months, as opposed to three to seven years for natural rotting. Epsom salt contains magnesium and sulfur, which are beneficial to plants but deadly in large quantities. Overdosing the stump with Epsom salt pulls the moisture out of it, killing it and accelerating the decaying process.

Here’s how to use Epsom salt to kill a tree stump:

  1. Drill deep holes in the stump about an inch wide with a power drill and a wide drill bit.
  2. Sprinkle the stump with water after covering the top of the stump with Epsom salt.
  3. Cover the stump with a tarp to keep the rain from washing away the substance.
  4. Repeat this process every few weeks to ensure its success.

If this process is successful, the stump will die within two to three months and be close to full decay after a year. This is a great solution for homeowners who want a slower, natural approach to killing their tree stump.

Rock Salt

Similar to Epsom salt, rock salt can help kill and decay a stump with minimal effort. Here’s how to kill a tree stump with rock salt:

  1. Drill holes into the stump.
  2. Pack the holes with rock salt.
  3. After all of the holes are packed and the stump is covered in salt, pour soil and mulch over the stump.
  4. Then, pour water over the mulch—this will dissolve the salt, help the roots absorb the solution, and pack the soil.

Keep watering the stump every few days for one to two months to keep the stump moist with the saltwater solution, promoting absorption and the growth of fungi that can accelerate the stump’s decomposition. You can also add a potassium nitrate fertilizer to further support the growing fungi.

Plastic Bag or Tarp

Perhaps the easiest method to kill a tree stump is forcing darkness on it. Without sunlight, the tree stump will die, accelerating the decomposition process. Rotting should start to take place in two to three months.

Here’s how to kill a tree stump with a plastic bag or tarp:

  1. Similar to other methods, cut the stump as close to the roots as possible with a chainsaw, hatchet, or handsaw.
  2. Cover the stump with a black trash bag.
  3. Weigh the bag down with heavy rocks or bricks. For a smaller stump, use a dark-colored bucket or container to cover the stump.

This technique requires little to no effort, but it can be slower compared with the physical removal methods.

Boiling Water

You don’t need to purchase any substance or solution to try this remedy—all you need is hot water.

  1. Expose as much of the stump’s root structure as possible.
  2. Drill holes into the roots and on top of the stump—this will help the scalding water reach as much of the root system as possible and kill the roots with heat.
  3. Once all the roots are exposed, pour boiling water over them. The heat from the water will shock the root system, severely damaging it and killing it.

Once the stump and roots are dead, the natural decomposition process can begin.

Techniques To Physically Remove a Tree Stump

If you have the time and resources to use physical methods to kill and remove your tree stump, consider the following techniques. Compared to home remedies, they are much quicker but take a bit more effort, tools, and money to perform.

Use Fire To Kill a Tree Stump

Use some kindling or kerosene to burn the stump so that it doesn’t protrude from the ground. This method will kill the tree, but it won’t completely get rid of the tree roots and stump. Keep in mind that this may not be an option if you live in an area with a dry climate that’s prone to wildfires. Check with your local fire department to see if burning a tree stump falls in line with the local fire code.

Once you have approval to burn your tree stump, there are a few ways you can move forward. You can drill holes into the trunk, pour kerosene into each hole, light scrap wood on the surface of the stump, and carefully monitor the wood as it burns. This method is slower, but it burns the wood from deeper within the stump.

You can also cut criss-cross lines in the wood that are about five to six inches deep with a chainsaw, then simply light some kindling on top and monitor the stump until it’s burned down below ground level.

Dig the Tree Stump Out of the Ground

Digging out a tree stump is one way to remove it from your yard, but it can require time-consuming work that can be potentially destructive to your yard or garden. This method allows you to remove as many tree roots as possible and ensure that the stump doesn’t continue to grow. To save time and effort, consider hiring a professional with digging equipment to handle the job.

Here’s how to dig a tree stump out of the ground:

  1. Dig around the stump, exposing as many roots as possible.
  2. Use a chainsaw, hatchet, or handsaw to cut the larger roots. As you continue digging, you may find smaller roots that can be cut with clippers or loppers.
  3. Once you’ve cut all of the roots around the stump, lift and remove the stump from the ground.
  4. Fill the hole with dirt and cover it with topsoil or mulch.

Note: This process can take multiple hours of labor, depending on the size of the tree stump and the root structure.

Free Quote: Get your free quote on professional stump removal today

Grinding the Tree Stump

This is the quickest method for killing and removing tree stumps. It involves hiring a tree removal specialist or renting a stump grinder machine to break apart the wood in the trunk and tree roots. Typical prices for this job are around $100–$400. Stump grinder machine rental costs typically fall between $80 and $150 for a four-hour window.

To grind a tree stump, start by trimming the stump with a chainsaw, digging around it and removing any rocks. Then, use the machine’s cutter blade to chip away at the wood and cut any roots that are connected to the stump. This process can take anywhere from two to six hours depending on the size of the stump. Once you’re finished, spread dirt in and over the hole, adding topsoil or mulch if desired.

What To Avoid When Killing Tree Stumps

Here are a few factors to consider when removing or killing tree stumps to ensure safety and effectiveness:

  • Bleach—Bleach can be used to kill a stump when poured over it in high quantities, but we recommend avoiding this method since it can be detrimental to the surrounding plants. It would be much healthier for the environment of your yard to use a more natural method like Epsom salt, as this can be beneficial to plants and soil.
  • Diesel fuel—Avoid using diesel fuel or gasoline to burn tree trunks, since these solutions don’t offer a slow, effective burn needed to properly break down the wood. Diesel fuel and gasoline can also be toxic for the surrounding plants in your yard. Instead, we suggest using minimal amounts of kerosene and kindling wood for your stump fires.
  • Potential dangers—Even if your city allows for burning a stump, monitor and maintain the fire until it’s finished burning to keep it from spreading beyond the controlled area. You should also take safety precautions when using tree removal equipment, such as a chainsaw or stump grinder, and wear the proper protective gear.
  • Proximity to other plants—If your stump is located near plants that you wish to protect, be careful when adding chemicals to the stump and keep them off any surrounding plants. For example, even though the magnesium sulfate in Epsom salt can be good for plants, too much of it can dry them out.

The Bottom Line

If you’re trying to remove a tree stump from your yard, try one of the above methods. While we recommend the DIY techniques if you’re not in a hurry, renting a machine or hiring a professional to help grind the stump is the fastest solution.

Free Quote: Get your free quote on professional stump removal today

Enter your ZIP code into the tool below to find tree removal experts in your area that can help you get rid of your pesky stump.

Frequently Asked Questions

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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! Here are 5 ways to remove a tree stump.

  • No. 1: Use Chemicals
  • No. 2: Remove Stump Manually
  • No. 3: Burn the Stump
  • No. 4: Use a Stump Grinder
  • No. 5: Call in the Pros
  • Best Way to Remove a Tree Stump
  • FAQ About Tree Stump Removal

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.

No. 2: Remove Stump Manually

If you don’t want to use chemical stump removal or wait too long to get rid of the tree stump, it may be possible to remove it manually. Again, it’s not expensive to do it this way if you already have the tools. It may take around three to 12 hours to finish the project, but once you are done, that stump will be history.

The tools that you need to gather or purchase include:

  • Digging bar ($30 to $50).
  • Bow saw ($10 to $30).
  • Ax ($30 to $40).
  • Mattock ($15 to $50).

Be sure to wear safety gear such as work gloves and steel toe boots for this project.

How to Manually Remove a Tree Stump

Manually removing a stump is definitely more labor-intensive, but it will get the job done fast. This method is best used on small to medium-sized tree trunks. If your stump is larger, then you’ll probably need a stump grinder, which we will talk about later.

Step 1: Use the broad end of the mattock to dig around the stump and loosen the dirt.

Step 2: Remove the loosened dirt with a shovel so that you see the tree roots.

Step 3: With your mattock (or a small bow) sever the tree roots from your tree trunk.

Step 4: Continue to dig and chop until you reach the taproot and clear an area around it.

Step 5: Using an ax or bow saw, cut through the taproot.

Once you’ve cut through the taproot, you can wiggle the tree stump around and pull it out of the topsoil. This process will take hours, but when it’s over, your tree stump will be gone.

Another strategy for removing a tree stump manually is to use a wedge, which this video illustrates.

No. 3: Burn the Stump

Another do-it-yourself option is the burn method. This may be used alone or in conjunction with one of the two stump removal methods listed above. The supplies you’ll need to burn your stump include:

  • A tree stump removal product such as Stump Out (which you can find on Amazon).
  • Kerosene or fuel oil.
  • Power drill.

How to Burn a Tree Stump

Burning the stump may seem daunting, but as long as safety measures are followed, this is an effective method to remove a tree stump. Carefully follow the instructions:

Step 1:  Drill holes in the stump and sprinkle your powdered tree stump removal product inside. This will help to make the wood porous.

Step 2:  Pour kerosene or fuel oil into the holes. Soak the tree stump completely, allowing the porous wood to absorb the fuel.

Step 3: Ignite the tree stump and let it burn. Watch it closely and make sure that the flame smolders. Once it is just about finished, you can cover it with topsoil to help put out any remnants of the fire.

This is a fast method for removal, but if you live in a neighborhood, you may want to check first that it’s acceptable to use kerosene on your tree stump.


4: Use a Stump Grinder

If you are dealing with a larger stump, or have multiple old tree stumps to remove, renting a stump grinder may be your best DIY bet. Stump grinders that are available at your local home improvement store generally cost between $100 and $200 to rent. You’ll also need a few extra tools including:

  • Shovel.
  • Mattock.
  • Rake.
  • Chainsaw.

How to Remove a Tree Stump With a Stump Grinder

Stump grinders are large machines that can weigh around 1,000 pounds. So before you rent one, make sure you have a vehicle that can transport it to and from your home, or that the rental company can deliver it and take it away.

Step 1: Clear dirt, debris, and rocks away from the tree stump using your mattock or shovel.

Step 2: Using your chainsaw, cut as much of the stump as possible. Ground-level is ideal.

Step 3: Place the stump grinder wheel a few inches above the stump and turn it on.

Step 4: Lower it about 3 inches and move it from side to side using its lever.

Step 5: Grind it down about 4 inches using the grinder wheel and repeat until the entire perimeter of the stump is 4 inches below the ground.

Step 6: Fill the hole with the wood chips which are the remnants of your stump then cover with topsoil and/or grass.

While this is a home improvement project that you can do yourself, be sure to do your research before you begin. These machines can be a challenge to operate and you will need the proper safety gear and attire.

No. 5: Call in the Pros

If waiting weeks, working on it for hours, lighting fires, or operating heavy equipment don’t appeal to you, you can always hire a local tree care professional. If you’re already getting a tree cut down, ask that company to remove the trunk. They will charge you an additional fee, but you may be able to negotiate a favorable rate since you are already working with them.

It generally costs between $175 and $516 per stump for removal. To get a good estimate, measure the diameter of the stump and multiply this by $2 to $5. The average cost for professional removal is $326.

Stump grinding costs from $158 to $450 depending on the size of the stump. The average cost of stump grinding is $313.

Advice from a Pro

Since the cost to rent a stump grinder ranges from $200 to $400, you could actually come out ahead by hiring a service instead. Gerald Williams, owner of C-Trees & More in Houston, Texas said that in many cases the stump grinders available for rent at places like Home Depot are not big enough for most jobs.

“I’ve seen people rent these machines and try to do it themselves,” he said. “They get worked to death trying to remove the stump with one of these small grinders, and then they still end up calling a professional in to do the job.

He said that you can rent a stronger, professional-grade stump grinder, but warns that these can cost around $400 or more.  Additionally, he said that the commercial-grade grinders require skill to operate as well as the proper equipment to haul them.

The Bottom Line: By calling a professional, you’ll not only avoid hauling heavy equipment, but you’ll also avoid safety glasses, sawdust, and the local fire department.

How to Choose the Best Way to Remove a Tree Stump

There are several aspects to consider when choosing how to remove a tree stump. 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 stumps with some of these methods.

And why do you want to get rid of it? Is it an eyesore that you are ready to eliminate, or are you willing to wait? Once you have the details and reasoning behind the stump removal, you’re ready to choose your tree stump killer. 

  • Best ways to remove a small stump: Chemicals, remove manually, or burn
  • Best ways to remove a medium stump: You could use any of these five methods, depending on the size, age of the stump, and root system. Probably wouldn’t need to call in a pro, unless you prefer for someone else to do the work.
  • Best ways to remove a large stump: Call in the pros for the fastest results. Chemicals or burning may also work, depending on the size, age of the stump, and root system. 
  • Cheapest ways to remove a stump: Remove the stump manually, or burn the stump. Compared to renting heavy equipment or hiring a pro, using chemicals is also inexpensive.
  • Fastest ways to remove a stump: Remove the stump manually or call in the pros

FAQ About Tree Stump Removal

How Far Down Should a Stump be Ground?

Generally, tree stumps are ground from between 4 inches to 6 inches below the surface. This length is ideal because it’s deep enough for the lawn to regrow over the remaining stump and roots. Further grinding can be done, but it can be challenging for a DIYer and cost more if you hire a professional.

Can I Leave a Tree Stump in the Ground?

If you leave a tree stump and its roots in the ground, it’ll decay. Sometimes it can take up to a decade for the decay process to start, but it will eventually start. In the meantime, it’ll be vulnerable to organisms, fungi, diseases, and pests like termites and other wood-destroying insects.

Can you Remove a Tree Stump with Epsom Salt?

Yes. It is a long, drawn-out process, but you can use Epson salt to remove a tree stump. You can either drill a few holes on the top of the stump, dump in the salt, and then add enough water to moisten the salt. The other option is to make a 2:1 water: salt solution and dump it on the stump, then cover it with a tarp, and repeat the process a week later. Both methods will slowly draw the moisture out of the stump and kill it. Chip away at the dead pieces as they form until, eventually, the stump shrinks enough to pull out of the ground.

If I Grind the Stump, What will Happen to the Roots?

Eventually, they’ll decay and break down, returning to the environment. Because the roots are below ground, they don’t cause the same issues as leaving the tree stump. However, if you’re concerned, you can use most the same methods to remove the roots as you would the stump.

If I use a Herbicide, How Long will it Take to Work?

It depends on a few factors. How new is the stump? How big is the stump? What product did you use? On average, results should appear in 6 to 8 weeks. However, it may take several months for the stump to decompose.

No Longer Stumped

If you’ve got an annoying stump in your yard that you are ready to remove, you have options. This final stage of tree care really depends on how quickly you want the stump removed, how much work you are willing to put into it, and of course, how much you want to spend to remove it.

If you’re ready to take action, contact a local tree care professional to remove the stump and take this chore off your lawn care to-do list.

* LawnStarter participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program. LawnStarter may earn revenue from products promoted in this article.

LawnStarter writer Nicki DeStasi updated this article.

Main photo credit: Shutterstock

Jennifer Lester

Jennifer Lester is a freelance writer and social media strategist who covers a variety of home and garden topics. She’s a graduate of Texas A&M University and the proud mom of three boys. In her spare time, she volunteers in her community and her children’s schools.

Posts by Jennifer Lester

methods of chemical removal of trees and stumps using saltpeter, urea and other reagents

Chemical removal of stumps (butt and rhizomes) is based on the processes that occur in wood under the influence of various reagents.

Exposure to the right reagent not only kills all wood, including even roots that are not too large, but also destroys all pathogens of trunk and roots.

At the same time, each of the methods has one or another negative effect on the soil , therefore, the method of chemical exposure must be chosen taking into account this influence in order to minimize harm for the subsequent use of this piece of land.

Unfortunately, chemical attack cannot destroy the stump and root system, which is why dead wood will need to be burned or uprooted.

Therefore, chemical action is most often used in the fight against pathogens and in cases where it is necessary not only to pull out the butt with roots, but also to prevent the germination of the remnants of the root system.

For more information on how to remove stumps from trees in various ways, including uprooting and burning, see here.


  • When is such tree stump removal justified?
  • Popular drugs and their uses
    • Saltpeter and urea
    • Copper or iron sulfate
    • Table salt
  • When is the best time to treat?
  • Safety measures
  • Related videos
  • Conclusion

When is such tree stump removal justified?

As a result of removing wood with chemicals without uprooting , aggressive substances enter the soil, which negatively affect many plants.

Some of these substances can be neutralized in various ways, making the soil suitable for planting, but if construction is planned on the cleared area, then these substances will not affect the properties of the soil in any way.

Therefore, it is worth using chemical destruction and removal of stumps only if the side effects will not affect the further use of the land in any way or they can be neutralized.

The most effective chemical uprooting in relation to trees growing wild and located next to buildings . Many wild-growing breeds are distinguished by survivability, therefore, even after mechanical removal of most of the root, shoots are released and continue to grow.

With the right preparations, you can completely stop their growth and destroy most of the root system, after which the site can be used in any way.

Chemical uprooting is also the most effective in relation to the root system of diseased trees. The thing is that pathogens infect groundwater, which can lead to an epidemic among other plants.

Mechanical or manual uprooting does not remove all roots , and it is not always possible to burn out the remains, so the only reliable way to deal with such diseases is to chemically destroy the roots. Learn more about how to remove stumps and roots chemically.

Popular drugs and their uses

Here is a list of the most popular reagents that are used to destroy tree stumps and root systems:

  • saltpeter and urea;
  • copper or iron sulfate;
  • table salt.

Saltpeter and urea

These reagents (potassium and ammonium nitrate, as well as urea) are used where it is possible to burn the stump after processing.

After all, they do not destroy the wood, but sharply increase its combustibility , because of which even the roots flare up from a small fire.

For their application, holes are drilled with a diameter of 10-50 mm, the location of the holes depends on the method of removal of the tree.

On sawn stumps they drill vertically, evenly distributing holes along the cut, on broken ones they drill a trunk, placing holes around the entire perimeter.

Hole spacing 5-10 cm . If the barrel is drilled from the outside, then the drill is directed at an angle of 20–40 degrees so that the reagent does not spill out.

Any kind of saltpeter or urea is poured into the prepared holes (no need to mix them together) to the top, then a little water is poured in order for the granules to settle, and the holes are closed with a wooden, clay or plasticine stopper.

A wooden cork is made from a thick branch with a knife so that it enters the hole by 1-2 mm with a noticeable effort. Then her is inserted into the hole filled with reagent and hammered with a hammer so that it sinks 1-2 cm. The protruding remains of branches are not cut off so as not to loosen the cork.

Clay plug can be made from clay or surface soil by crushing the soil and adding a little water.

The amount of water is determined empirically - after thorough mixing, the clay should have a consistency similar to a very thick dough or not very hard plasticine.

The clay is put into the hole until it is full and compacted with a finger, gradually adding more. Plasticine cork is also made, only plasticine is used instead of clay.

After 1–2 years, the roots are dug up and a small fire is laid around the trunk .

If you do not know how to dig in the roots, we recommend reading the article Manual uprooting.

Then the fire is lit and the fire from the burning stump does not spread to neighboring trees, buildings or grass.

While the stump impregnated with reagents “ripens”, the soil around it is filled with nitrogen-containing substances , so it is advisable to plant any fruit plants at a distance of 4–5 meters from it. This distance is enough for the amount of nitrates to drop to a safe level.

After burning the stump, the hole is covered with old and new soil, then inedible plants are planted that produce a large amount of green mass. In autumn, all the greenery collected from the plant must be burned in order to completely utilize the nitrogenous compounds unsuitable for plants and people.

Next year the site is ready to accept any plants. If construction work is planned at this place, then you can start them immediately after the pit cools down.

This method is ineffective against diseases of plants with a widely branched root system , because the reagents will not damage pathogens located significantly below the combustion zone. In addition, it cannot be used on peaty soils, because a burning stump will set fire to peat, and an underground fire will start, which is very difficult to extinguish.

Copper or iron sulfate

Both substances are very toxic and kill any bacteria living in the wood, so they are used to disinfect the roots of diseased trees. Preparations are applied in the same way as saltpeter, only holes are made with a diameter of 5–8 mm and a depth of 5–10 cm. After the wood dies, the roots must be dug up and uprooted in any way or, overlaid with firewood, burned.

These reagents must not be used near metal pipes as they will drastically increase all corrosion processes.

In addition, within a radius of 3–5 meters, the content of these substances will increase, which will negatively affect the vital activity of microorganisms involved in soil restoration, so any plants will grow poorly there for several years .

If the roots were not removed, but burned, then this period will increase to tens of years. If the roots are uprooted, then in 2–3 years the level of these substances will decrease, after which the soil will gradually recover.

Table salt

This reagent completely kills the roots and any microorganisms that live in them in 1-2 months. They are introduced in the same way as both types of vitriol.

If the area around the tree is to be used as a road or a concrete pad, the stump and roots can be burned after dying. In all other cases, they must be uprooted, otherwise an excess of salt will make the soil barren for decades, and any iron product will quickly rust.

When is the best time to treat?

If there is rot in a broken tree, or the roots are affected by some disease, then vitriol or salt can be applied at any time of the year , because the fight against the disease and the prevention of an epidemic of trees comes first.

If there is no urgency, then it is advisable to apply all types of reagents after the end of the autumn rainy season , 1-3 weeks before the onset of frost.

During this time, the reagents will penetrate below the soil level and will impregnate the wood even during frost. In addition, the lack of rain will not wash out the reagent and reduce its effectiveness.

Safety Precautions

Ammonium and potassium nitrates are explosive combustible substances, so they must be used with extreme caution.

Do not smoke while handling. 1-3 months after laying saltpeter in the wood, active processes occur associated with the release of combustible gases, so you can not smoke or make a fire near the stump treated with these reagents.

Copper and iron sulphate in a dry state are safe for human skin, but when working with them, you must use a respirator, goggles and gloves.

After adding water, vitriol crystals will quickly turn into a toxic liquid that can burn the skin. Especially dangerous is the ingress of crystals and drops on the mucous parts of the body.

Salt is safe when dry and takes a long time to dissolve in water. No safety precautions are required when working with coarse salt , but goggles must be used when working with fine salt, as an unexpected gust of wind can blow it into the eye.

To reduce the risk of fire during the burning of the stump and roots, a circular earthen mound ≥50 cm high should be built around the pit. Burning wood should not be left unattended, because it can shoot fairly large sparks that fly 5–10 meters and only go out after a few minutes.

In addition, should always have a fire extinguisher on hand and, preferably, a hose connected to the water supply - this will help to extinguish a fire starting far from the stump.

Do not stand on the lee side of burning wood, because it, impregnated with saltpeter or urea, releases toxic substances when burned.

In addition, it is desirable to obtain permission from the nearest department of the Ministry of Emergency Situations to burn stumps, because otherwise they can issue a large fine. You will find more information on this subject in this article (Incineration).

Do not use other chemical agents, especially those based on glyphosate (Roundup, Typhoon, Santi). They effectively kill wood, but do not decompose in the ground, so they first enter new plants, then with their fruits into the human body.

Related video

In his video, the author shows how to remove stumps on his site using ammonium nitrate:



Now you know:

  • which preparations are used for chemical treatment;
  • how they affect wood;
  • how to properly apply saltpeter and other reagents to destroy the stump;
  • what additional measures should be taken to completely remove the remains of the tree.

7 ways to remove the stump without uprooting. Photo, video

Sometimes you have to part with the trees on the site. There are enough reasons for this, maybe it got too big or stopped bearing fruit and got sick. Removing a tree from a site can be time-consuming and sometimes costly. But the most unpleasant thing is when, after cutting down a tree, your work has stalled on a stubborn stump. And all thoughts are only about how to remove this stupid stump!

The most interesting thing is that the extensive root system of the stump continues to give young shoots, and the stump itself continues to grow and not rot. And continues to live for a long time after the tree has been cut down. Luckily, there are a few tricks you can use to rid your yard of an annoyingly stubborn stump. So, how do you remove a stump without uprooting?


  • Physical methods for removing the stump
    • Dig up the stump
    • Burn the stump
    • Grind the stump
    • Home remedies for the destruction of stumps
      • English salt
      • Stone salt
      • Sveta starvation
    • Chemicals
    • 2 DO NOT use diesel fuel
  • Stump Killer FAQ
    • Does stump remover kill grass?
    • What can be put on a stump to make it rot?
    • Will bleach kill the stump?
    • What is the best way to kill stumps?
    • How long does Epsom salt take to kill a stump?
  • Conclusion

Physical Stump Removal

If you need to remove the stump as soon as possible, you can deal with it quickly by digging, crushing or burning. Physical removal methods come with some problems. Let's take a closer look at each of these methods to find out if they are right for you or not.

Digging out the stump

For small stumps, up to about 30 cm in diameter, digging out may be the most practical solution. Digging requires only basic hand tools, not special equipment or renting a large and expensive machine. This is a time-consuming process, but it can be done with the right tools.

To dig a stump, you will need a sturdy shovel, a hoe and a metal bar. A narrow shovel with a medium-length handle that digs deep and easily maneuvers around a dense root base. The hoe cuts roots like an ax and easily loosens compacted soil. Use a twig to dig deep or narrow places and pull out stubborn roots.

To remove a stump, start by loosening the soil around it with a hoe. Clear loose soil with a shovel. When the roots are exposed, cut through them with a hoe or an axe. Continue working down and in from all sides to the main root under the stump. Use a twig to loosen the soil underneath the stump or pry the side of the stump for extra work space. When the taproot is exposed, use the sharp edge of a hoe to pierce it. Remove the stump with the root ball and any large roots.

Burn the stump

If the stump is completely dry, it can be burned out. This method may take longer than digging and does not completely remove roots below soil level, but may give satisfactory results with slightly less physical effort.

Before starting a fire, clear the area of ​​flammable materials and dig up the ground within a radius of at least 5 meters from the stump. Also, run a garden hose connected to the water to quickly extinguish any flames that ignite outside the area of ​​the burning stump. Finally, schedule time to be near the stump at all times while it burns. This can take quite a long time, depending on the size, type of wood, moisture content, weather conditions, and many other variables.

Now the hard part. Setting fire to a stump is not as easy as it seems. Dousing it with flammable liquid is not a good idea. It's dangerous and really not that effective. The liquid tends to burn without actually igniting the stump. Instead, build a fire at the top of the stump and keep it burning. To speed up the process, improve airflow by digging up the soil at the base of the stump. Fire needs oxygen, so the more it is exposed to it, the faster it will burn.

Grind the stump

Grind the stump can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours or more. You can hire someone to do this job, but it's an easy process to do on your own. Stump removal machines are available from equipment rental companies. If you are doing this yourself, be sure to wear appropriate safety gear when using the stump grinder, including safety goggles and hearing protection.

The process of crushing stumps can be hazardous to the operator and bystanders. The machine grinds to a depth of about 20 cm, throwing debris to the sides. The risks of using a stump grinder are associated with wood chips or stones flying in all directions.

Communications may be cut off. Before grinding the stump, find out if you have any communications - electricity, water or communication lines - so that you can avoid damaging them. Keep bystanders (and pets too) away from the work area while working.

Stump Destroyer at Home

If you have enough time, you can use household tools to destroy the stump. The natural processes of decay will weaken the wood, allowing you to remove it more easily. If the long and slow method suits you, consider using one of these simple and inexpensive home remedies that you may already have on hand.

Epsom salt

An excellent option, he was awarded a separate article. Luckily, there is a favorite bath product that doubles as a simple stump remover: Epsom salts. Epsom salt or magnesium sulfate is a naturally occurring compound of magnesium, sulfur and oxygen, which are essential plant nutrients. But in high concentration, it draws moisture out of the stump, killing it within a month or more.

Start the destruction of the stump by drilling holes with a diameter of 80 to 130 mm, about 8 cm from the edge of the stump. Try to make them as deep as possible, spaced about 2-3 cm apart. When you have made enough (the more the better) holes in the stump, cover them with Epsom salts and add water. But not too much. It is needed only in order to soak the stump with a solution without spilling it out. Then sprinkle the entire top of the stump with Epsom salt. Then cover the stump with a thick film or tarp. Then rainwater will not wash the secret ingredient out of the holes. This process can take about a month or more, the solution will eventually cut off the moisture supply to the roots and they will dry out, allowing you to easily uproot the stump and get rid of it forever.

Rock salt

Rock salt is another versatile product that can help get rid of unwanted stumps, but caution is warranted here. Like Epsom salt, it kills by drawing vital moisture from the stump. Although rock salt is a natural substance that takes about the same time to break down as Epsom salt, it is less desirable.

Rock salt or sodium chloride contains the elements sodium and chlorine. These elements not only kill stumps, but also have an adverse effect on useful plants. If the salt concentration in the soil is too high, sodium and chloride replace the phosphorus and potassium needed by plants, causing deficiency and plant death. Look out for other home remedies that use salt water to kill poison ivy and other hard-to-kill weeds.

Light starvation

If you want a natural, additive-free approach to stump removal, try this option. Trees and shoots that grow on stumps need light for photosynthesis, so why not turn it off? To blackout a tree, you'll need a large tarp or sheet of black plastic and a large amount of organic waste, such as wood chips, fallen leaves, or grass clippings.

First cut the tree as close to the ground as possible. Then cover the stump and as many exposed roots as possible with a tarp. Finally, pile the organic waste on top of a tarp at least 30 cm thick. Shoots may develop from the exposed part of the root zone, but the stump will slowly weaken and die. The option is not fast, but covered and forgotten. After 3-5 months, the stump can be removed with a shovel.


Most chemicals are labeled "Use only as directed". We agree with this. Although there are a huge number of chemicals that can effectively destroy stumps, perhaps in the same way as Epsom salts. Many of them cause collateral damage to nearby plants, animals, or people. What is the point when there are better and safer alternatives? With that in mind, read on for a few well-known examples.

Stump Remover

Many chemical products designed to remove stumps are made with potassium nitrate. This compound contains potassium, nitrogen and oxygen, which reduce the time of natural decay from several years to 4-6 weeks. This is environmentally friendly and is a fairly quick method.

Removers are most effective when used on old, dead stumps. If you are dealing with a freshly cut tree, start with a stump killer based on products containing systemic insecticides such as triclopyr to kill roots and prevent shoot regrowth. Apply the chemical to the top of the stump within a few minutes of making a fresh cut so that the product quickly soaks into the remaining stump and roots. If the stump was cut off not so long ago, but not 10 minutes ago, then you can drill holes as in the version with salt.

DO NOT use bleach

Bleach is not sold as a herbicide and should not be used on plants. The dangers outweigh the minor benefits. As noted earlier in the rock salt segment, chlorine is indeed a naturally occurring element, but it creates problems for desired plants when concentrated in the soil. The truth is that applying the high concentration needed to kill a stump can expose adjacent grass, shrubs, and perennials to toxic levels of chlorine and greatly increase soil pH. Instead, save the bleach for more appropriate uses.

DO NOT use engine oil

There is no good reason to use engine oil to kill stumps instead of one of the above products. Plus, a liter of motor oil costs about the same as a stump killer, which is a tried and tested product for just that purpose.

DO NOT use diesel fuel

Diesel is popular as a stump burning base because it does not explode like gasoline. However, as noted, the addition of a flammable liquid to the process will not provide the sustained, sustained combustion required to eliminate the stump. As a chemical stump killer, it will likely have an effect too. But judge for yourself, you need to buy a canister and some diesel fuel. Perhaps instead it makes sense to purchase specialized solutions or Epsom salts?

Frequently asked questions about how to kill the stump

Does the stump remover kill the grass?

Stump remover pellets, made from potassium nitrate, specifically designed to kill stumps, will not kill grass. In fact, they are made up of compounds that break down into plant-friendly nutrients.

What can be put on a stump to make it rot?

Mushrooms are the most efficient organisms for breaking down wood fibers, so you can plant fungal spores in the stump. An old method of speeding up the decomposition of a stump is to cut grooves in the stump, sprinkle earth on top, and cover the stump with a tarp to promote microbial growth.

Will bleach kill the stump?

No studies have shown that bleach is an effective stump killer.

What is the best way to kill stumps?

The best stump killer is a systemic stump killer herbicide, such as triclopyr, applied directly to the fresh cut of the stump.

How long does Epsom salt take to kill a stump?

According to the directions above, the Epsom salt method will take 8 to 10 weeks to kill the stump.


If left to rot naturally, a large stump can take decades to die and decompose.

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