How to dig tree roots out


Tree Root Removal: A How-to Guide

You thought you were done with that tree when the chainsaw fell silent. Not so fast. You still have to deal with tree roots. Tree roots are an entirely different beast. Depending on the size of the tree or the reason for the removal, you may even need to call in professional help to remove the tree roots in your yard.

In this how-to guide, we’ll cover the things you need to know about removing tree roots, the conditions you might face, tools you can use, and even when you might need to throw in the trowel and call for expert help.

Why Should You Remove Tree Roots?

The most obvious reason to remove tree roots is that there is a stump in your yard that serves as a reminder of a tree that once stood there. And like the rest of the tree, you need it gone for one reason or another. 

But that’s not always the case. You may, in fact, want to save the tree, but eliminate pesky roots that are cracking your sidewalk or clogging up the sewer line. Whatever the reason, we’ve got you covered. So let’s get started.

Removing Tree Roots After Tree Removal

Taking out tree roots can be a big job, especially if it was a big tree. Its underground root system can spread 20 feet deep, sometimes even more in the right conditions. To remove tree roots that are left after taking down a tree, in most cases, you have three options:

  • Physically remove the roots yourself
  • Treat the roots with chemicals
  • Hire a professional tree stump killer

Physically Remove Tree Roots on Your Own

Physically taking out a tree stump and its roots is the fastest, but most laborious way to get rid of it. Tree stump removal and taking out the tree roots on your own generally involves either digging them out or using a stump grinder. It depends on the type and size of the tree roots you are dealing with. This type of DIY project works best with smaller stumps and roots.

Digging Out Tree Roots

First, call the utility company to make sure you aren’t digging around water, sewer, or other underground lines.  

To dig out the roots, you’ll need a few supplies:

  • Spade
  • Loppers
  • Grub hoe 
  • Root saw (possibly)

Here’s how to dig out tree roots by hand:

  1. Using your spade, you’ll want to dig out the soil that surrounds the roots to expose them. Pull out any loose roots until no more loose ones remain. 
  2. Dig out the dirt surrounding the ones that are still intact and cut through them using your loppers. Try to cut far from the root ball.
  3. Next, use the grub hoe to lift out the cut roots. Pull additional ones out by hand if you can. Push the stump back and forth to loosen the roots and continue to cut and pull roots until you can remove the root ball from the soil. A root saw may be needed if the roots are too thick for the loppers.

Using a Stump Grinder to Remove Tree Roots

Photo Credit: Kinemsm / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4. 0

In some cases, digging out the tree roots may prove difficult. But there is another option to physically remove them, and that is with the use of equipment. Stump grinding a pesky tree trunk is work, but you can eliminate it quickly, and even create some fresh wood mulch in the process.

If you use this method, you’ll need:

  • Chainsaw
  • Shovel
  • You’ll need to rent a stump grinder  

The average cost to rent a stump grinder is between $100 and $400. They can be found at your local home improvement stores such as Lowe’s or Home Depot. Or you can rent one from an equipment store such as Sunbelt.

Pro Tip: Because of the debris involved, it’s important to wear the right safety gear. This includes fully covering your body with pants, a long sleeve shirt, and protective headgear and glasses.

  1. Use your chainsaw to trim the trunk as close to the ground as possible. 
  2. Dig up any rocks and debris around the trunk that could damage your grinder.
  3. Once the trunk and roots are prepped, you can drive the grinder onto the stump and start grinding it down.

Depending on the size and location of the tree, you’ll grind down anywhere from 2 to 4 or more inches. After you’ve completed this, use your shovel once again to dig up tree roots that were attached to the trunk.

Once you’ve completed the process, it’s time to treat the area. You can do this by shoveling or raking the loose wood chips onto the area where the stump was. If it is in a grassy area, also add topsoil and grass seed. If not, use mulch to help cover it.

Continue to check on the hole and treat it until it becomes a natural part of the yard.

If you’re contemplating how to remove the stump before you worry about removing the roots, check out our guide on 5 Ways to Remove a Tree Stump.

Treat the Roots With Chemicals

If you choose to treat the tree’s roots, there is a chemical herbicide option, which works fast to eliminate roots, or the more natural option of using rock salt, which is equally effective but takes longer. You can also use Epsom salt or another highly concentrated form. Table salt won’t do the trick.

Remove Roots Using a Chemical Compound

Treating chemically is easier, but will take longer.

You will need:

  • Saw
  • Water hose
  • Garden sprayer or paintbrush
  • Herbicide – a glyphosate herbicide with an active ingredient concentration of at least 41 percent is best.

Pro Tip: Wear safety goggles or a face shield, a dust mask and hearing protection while working with the saw.

  1. Use the saw to make a fresh cut across the tree stump.
  2. Saturate the tree’s outer layer (just behind the bark) with water. The water will help distribute the herbicide to the tree roots.
  3. Next, mix the glyphosate herbicide with water to create a 50/50 solution, and use your garden sprayer to saturate the outer ring of the tree stump with it. Try to avoid getting the solution on the grass or any nearby plants.

Once the chemical treatment is applied, you just wait. It will take about two weeks for the tree roots to completely die off.

Remove Roots With Rock Salt

It will take a few months and a few applications to get the job done. 

First, you’ll need: 

  • A drill
  • Drill bit that’s 3/8 of an inch in diameter.
  • Rock salt
  • Water

Pro Tip: Take care when handling rock salt and always wear gloves, because when it contacts your skin, it can cause “salt burns.”

  1. Drill several holes in the tree stump that is about three to four inches deep. If there are any exposed roots on the ground, drill holes in these too.
  2. Fill each hole completely with the rock salt, then add enough water to cover the hole without any spilling out and causing damage to other vegetation. Do this several times each month. 

The rock salt will rob the roots of any water and after a few months, your tree roots should be dead.

How To Remove Roots Inside Your Plumbing Pipes

Clogged plumbing due to tree roots is a common issue for homeowners. But if you take proactive measures, you can easily correct this problem with just a little rock salt. 

  1. Pour about half a pound of rock salt at a time into your toilet and flush until it goes down the pipes. 
  2. Repeat until you’ve used a full two pounds. 
  3. Then close off the bathroom and don’t let anyone in the family use that toilet for about 8 to 12 hours.

The rock salt will kill the tree roots by robbing them of their moisture. Repeat this monthly for ongoing maintenance.

Tree Root Removal Without Harming the Tree

Sometimes you love the tree in your yard but hate the roots that are tearing up your sidewalk or clogging up the plumbing. So what do you do about them? Can you eliminate these roots without harming your tree?

The answer here is yes. You can trim the roots back and you can take measures to prevent them from coming back in unwanted areas.  First, you’ll need a water hose, hand trowel, and a wheelbarrow or tarp to temporarily place the dirt, root saw, and material to create a root barrier (plastic, metal, or concrete).

With supplies ready, start by using your hose to soften the ground with water. You want the ground to be damp, but not soggy. Next, use the hand trowel to loosen the soil and feel out the roots. Remove the soil in and around the roots and place it in the wheelbarrow or on the tarp. It’s best to use your hands for this.

Once the area is clear of dirt, cut the roots using your root saw, but be careful. A few guidelines to follow so that you don’t damage the tree are:

  • Don’t cut more than one-third of the roots.
  • Measure the tree trunk’s diameter, then multiply it by three. That’s as close to the trunk as you want to cut.
  • Cut only those roots smaller than the size of a fist.
  • Do not cut any more than 25% from one side.

After you’ve trimmed the roots, dig a trench between them and the area that you don’t want them to go. Create a barrier at least 12 inches high and 10 inches long using a material like metal, plastic, or concrete, then cover it with soil. Pat or compact the soil down and spray with water to wet the ground.

Hire a Professional

There are several reasons that you may want to hire a professional tree service to remove your tree stump. For example, if you don’t want to mess with the physical work of digging or grinding the stump yourself, and you don’t want to wait weeks or even months for it to go away, then it’s a good idea to let a pro take care of it for you.

 In many cases, if you are having the tree professionally removed, then you can hire the same company to take out the stump too — for an additional fee.

According to Bates Hite, the owner of Tree Stump Masters in Atlanta, he’s seen homeowners do all kinds of crazy things to remove tree stumps, even lighting them on fire with charcoal. And he warned that the stump grinders you can rent at the local home improvement store are not powerful enough for larger roots.

“You can’t rent a big enough piece of equipment to get the job done right on a large tree stump. You need to go deep, and you need a big machine,”  he said.

On average, the cost of tree root removal by a professional tree removal service can range from $250 to $350 depending on the size and location of the tree stump.

FAQ

What is the Easiest Way to Remove Tree Roots?

While labor-intensive, the easiest way often is to dig around the stump, exposing the roots, then using a chainsaw or hatchet, cut the large roots. You can use gardening shears to cut smaller roots.

What will Dissolve Tree Roots?

Rock salt or a glyphosate herbicide with an active ingredient concentration of at least 41 percent can dissolve tree roots.

What Tool Removes Tree Roots?

Depending on the size of the root, you can use gardening shears, a chainsaw, a hatchet, or a handsaw to cut away roots.

What Should I Do With a Tree Stump?

If you have a tree stump, then it should all be removed to avoid it developing health hazards like mold or fungus. The dead tree can still spread disease to your healthy ones if left in place.

If you’d prefer someone else did the work, check out our comprehensive pricing guides:
• How Much Does Stump Grinding Cost?
• How Much Does Stump Removal Cost?

Should I Remove the Roots in My Yard?

If it’s only for aesthetic reasons, no. If the roots are threatening to damage structures or sidewalks, yes.

Call in the Tree Care Experts

Some jobs are best left to the pros. Contact a local tree care expert to take care of uprooting the problem roots in your lawn.

Main image credit: Aaron Escobar / Flickr / CC 2.0

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

Tree Root Removal Guide | Arborist Services

The roots of a tree are the lifeblood that keeps it alive. They provide nutrients to the plant through their underground network of tubes called xylem. The root system is also responsible for anchoring the tree into its soil environment. When trees have been damaged by disease or insects they can lose up to 90% of their root mass.

The first step in any root removal project is determining what type of root you have. This may seem like a simple task but there are many different types of trees that grow roots differently than others. The most common mistake people make when trying to remove roots from their property is not knowing exactly what kind of tree they have.

Identifying Your Root Problem

The first step in solving a root problem is identifying what exactly you have. This may seem like an obvious statement but many people do not know where their trees’ roots begin or end. The following questions should help:

  1. Where does my driveway slope? Is there any soil movement on either side of the driveway? If so, then that area needs attention.
  2. How far away from the house is my retaining wall? Does it extend beyond the foundation?

The Tree Root System

A tree’s root system is made up of two parts; primary roots that penetrate deep into the earth, and lateral roots that extend outward from the main trunk. Lateral roots branch out at right angles from the main stem, forming a network of fine feeder roots that reach down toward the surface. These roots help absorb water and minerals from the surrounding soil. They also anchor the plant by providing support against wind pressure and other forces.

Removing Tree Roots After Tree Removal

It can be difficult to remove tree roots, especially if it was a large tree. In the right conditions, its underground root system can reach 20 feet deep. You have three options to remove tree roots after a tree is taken down most of the time.

  • Pull the roots out yourself.
  • Chemical treatment of the roots.
  • There is a professional tree stump killer who you can hire.

Physically Remove Tree Roots on Your Own

The most laborious way to get rid of a tree stump is by taking out the stump. You can either dig out the stump or use a stump grinder to remove the tree roots. Depending on the size of the tree roots you are dealing with. It’s best to do this type of project with small roots.

Digging Out Tree Roots

You will need a spade, loppers, grub hoe, and perhaps a root saw to dig out the roots.

Call the utility company to make sure you don’t dig around water, sewer or underground lines. To expose the roots, you will want to dig out the soil surrounding them. Remove any loose roots before they become loose ones. Cut through the ones that are still intact with your loppers by digging out the dirt surrounding them. Try to cut far from the root ball.

If you have a lot of roots, it is best to remove all but one or two at a time so as not to damage the tree too much. If you do need to pull up several roots in succession, use a rope tied around each root with an overhand knot on top of the root. This will allow you to tie off the ropes together when pulling up multiple roots.

The grub hoe is needed to remove the cut roots. You should be able to pull additional ones out by hand. Continue cutting and pulling roots until you can remove the root ball from the soil by pushing the stump back and forth. If the roots are too dense for the loppers, a root saw may be needed.

Using a Stump Grinder to Remove Tree Roots

It can be hard to dig out the tree roots with a tree stump grinder. The use of equipment can be used to physically remove them. Even though stump grinding a tree trunk is hard, you can eliminate it quickly and even make some fresh wood mulch in the process.

You will need a shovel, chainsaw and stump grinder if you use this method. Between $100 and $400 is the average cost to rent. It is possible to find them at your local Lowe’s or Home Depot store. There is an equipment store called Sunbelt where you can rent one. It is important to wear the proper safety gear because of the debris. You need a long sleeve shirt, pants and protective headgear to cover your body.

The first thing you’ll do is trim the trunk as close to the ground as possible, using your chainsaw. Next, dig up any rocks and debris around the trunk that could damage your grinder. You can begin grinding down the stump once the trunk and roots are prepared.

You can grind down a tree from 2 to 4 inches, depending on the location. Once you’ve completed this, use your shovel to dig up the tree roots that were attached to the trunk.

After you’ve completed the process, it’s time to treat the area. The area where the stump was can be raked or shoveled with loose wood chips. Topsoil and grass seed should be added if it is in a grassy area. If it isn’t covered with mulch, use it. Continue to keep an eye on the hole and treat it until it becomes a part of the yard.

Treat the Roots With Chemicals

Chemical treatments for root rot include copper sulfate and lime sulfur. These chemicals will kill any bacteria that may have gotten into your soil. They should not be applied directly on top of the plant; they must first penetrate the soil before reaching the roots. The best way to apply them is by using an irrigation system that has been designed specifically for this purpose.

Chemical compounds can be used to remove roots.

An active ingredient concentration of at least 41 per cent is needed for a saw, water hose, garden sprayer or paintbrush to be used.

The saw can be used to cut across the stump and make a fresh cut in the tree’s outer layer. The water will help with the distribution of the weed killer.

Use your garden sprayer to saturate the outer ring of the tree stump with the 50/50 solution that was created by mixing the Glyphosate and water. It’s best to avoid getting the solution on the grass or nearby plants.

Remove Roots With Rock Salt

The job will take a few months to be completed. You have to get a drill, rock salt and water. There are a number of holes in the tree stump that need to be drilled. If the ground has exposed roots, drill holes in them.

Adding enough water to cover each hole will prevent it from spilling out and causing damage to other plants. Each month you should do this several times. After a few months, the roots of your tree should be dead because of the rock salt in the water.

Hire a Professional

There are a number of reasons that you should hire a professional tree service to remove your tree stump. A professional can take care of the stump for you if you don’t want to mess with it. If you hire the same company to take out the stump for an additional fee, you can have the tree professionally removed.  We at Eden are consistently ready to provide professional assistance regarding plant life and anything that has to do with landscaping.

Homeowners do a lot of crazy things to remove tree stump, including lighting them on fire with charcoal, according to the owner of Tree Stump Masters. The stump grinder you can rent at the home improvement store isn’t powerful enough for bigger roots.

Renting equipment is not enough to get the job done on a large tree stump. He said that you need a big machine for going deep.

The cost of tree root removal can be as high as $350, depending on the location and size of the tree stump.

Tree Root Removal Without Harming the Tree

Sometimes you enjoy the tree in your yard but don’t like the roots that are damaging your sidewalk or plumbing. How do you deal with them? Is it possible to get rid of the roots without harming your tree?

Yes. You can get rid of the roots by trimming them back and taking other measures. To create a root barrier, you’ll need a water hose, trowel, wheelbarrow, tarp and material to temporarily place the dirt, root saw, and material.

The first thing to do is use your hose to get the ground softened with water. The ground needs to be damp but not soggy. The trowel should be used to loosen the soil and feel out the roots. The soil should be placed in a wheelbarrow or tarp after being removed from the roots. The best way to do this is by using your hands.

If you want to cut the roots, make sure the area is clear of dirt. It’s important to follow a few guidelines so that you don’t damage the tree.

  1. Don’t cut more than one-third of the roots.
  2. Divide the diameter of the tree trunk by three. That’s as close to the trunk as you want to cut.
  3. Only the roots smaller than a fist can be cut.
  4. Do not cut any more than 25% from one side.

You should dig a trench between the roots and the area you don’t want them to go after trimming them. Create a barrier at least 12 inches high and 10 inches long using a material like metal, plastic, or concrete, then cover it with the soil. Pat or compact the soil down and spray with water to wet the ground.

Do you know how to remove tree roots under concrete?

It’s not an easy process since you have to safeguard both the tree and concrete. Unless you’re going to remove the tree completely.

The methods you can use to remove tree roots are listed.

  1. The roots can be cut or killed to stop their growth under the concrete. If you want their growth to continue, you have to cut the roots from their source or somewhere else that will stop their growth. It is possible to use a chemical to kill the roots.
  2. The second method is more costly than the first one. It involves removing the concrete, removing the roots and pouring fresh concrete again.

Removing Roots Inside Your Plumbing Pipes

Homeowners often have logged plumbing due to tree roots. You can easily fix this problem with a little rock salt if you take proactive measures. When you flush, pour half a pound of rock salt into your toilet. Don’t use more than two pounds at a time. Don’t allow anyone in the family to use that toilet for up to 12 hours, then close off the bathroom. The tree roots are vulnerable to being killed by the rock salt. It is recommended to repeat this monthly for ongoing maintenance.

There are alternatives to root cutting and removal.

It might seem less appealing to cut your tree roots now. Here are some alternatives if you find that the risk of losing your tree is too high.

  • Reseed the roots by adding soil over their surfaced roots.
  • Around the tree, root spread is where you want to design your landscape.
  • The use of reinforced cement is recommended in hardscapes.
  • You should install root barricades.
  • A gravel walkway will replace a broken or buckled cement one.
  • When planting new trees, make sure the soil is suitable for the species and that it’s the water well. You can click here for more information on watering and soil.
  • The root barricades can be seen in the following video.

Look after the health of your tree no matter what solution you use. If you’re unsure, call a professional to evaluate and assess what actions should be taken.

There are other ways to handle tree branches

After reading this, you might decide that it’s too much work to remove your tree roots. You can always find ways to incorporate the tree stump into your design if that’s the case.

How to uproot trees: tips and tricks

Sat, 12/09/2015 - 13:03 | Comments: 0 | Author: OLCHUKS

Everyone who has had to get rid of tree stumps and roots on their site knows how difficult this process is. Knowing how to uproot trees quickly and inexpensively can be needed in a variety of situations: if the tree has already outlived its usefulness, if you need to free up a plot for construction, or just update the landscape design.

Contents:

  • Step-by-step instructions for removing tree roots
  • Chemical uprooting
  • Mechanical methods

Step-by-Step Guide to Remove Tree Roots

To complete this task, follow these steps:

  • Estimate the scope of the work. The larger the tree, the more difficult it is to remove. The size of the roots often depends on the type of tree. Assess the terrain and soil where the tree is growing. All this will help you determine the next steps or estimate the costs if you contact a specialized company.
  • Prepare all necessary equipment: shovel, hacksaw, axe, etc.
  • If the trunk of the tree has a large enough diameter and is strong with strong roots, you will have to dig a hole around the trunk. Moreover, the pit should be 3 times larger than the trunk itself. Depth is determined individually. You will see the first roots, start cutting them off. It is very important to get to the main, central root. If it remains intact, pulling out the tree will be extremely difficult.

In the case when the previous point did not give any results, you can resort to the next step - to apply special equipment. If you have a tractor, it will be very easy to pull out an already dug up tree. Tie the rope to it, the other end to the tractor and pull. If the roots have already been cut, the tree is removed the first time. However, this effective method has its own characteristics. Firstly, not every site can bring a tractor. Not everywhere there is an entrance to the site. And secondly, the site itself must be large enough so that the tractor can then also turn around.

If the tractor is not brought to the site and the tree with roots is still there, try to wash away the soil around the roots.

Fill the hole with water from a hose, then the soil will become loose, it will be easier to pull out the stump. But remember that you can’t get very close to the tree, there will be slippery liquid mud under your feet. There is a high chance of slipping and falling into a hole. In case of an unsuccessful fall, there is a possibility of fractures.

Chemical uprooting

Chemical methods of tree removal do not require much effort. You won't have to drag, pull or cut anything. However, these methods have their own characteristics. For example, they do not act instantly. We'll have to wait until the chemical turns the roots into dust.

These methods are especially popular when removing trees in the city, where it is not possible to dig and pull special equipment. Basic methods:

  • Potassium nitrate. This method does not require any effort at all and is inexpensive. But it will take a long time to wait. If the roots are very large and deep, like those of coniferous trees, it will take more than one year to wait for the complete removal of all roots. To uproot a tree in this way, cut the tree as close to the ground as possible, make holes in the soil around the trunk with a diameter of at least 5 cm, the depth will depend on the scale of the roots. Pour 100 g of saltpeter into each hole and fill with water. To prevent the substance from washing out, plug all the holes with a stopper. For a while, you can forget about the stump. It is better to do this in early summer and leave everything in this form until spring. And in the spring, if the tree was small, you can complete the procedure. Pour combustible material into the holes and set it on fire. The fire will destroy the remnants of the roots, it remains only to dig.
  • Ammonium nitrate. Ammonium nitrate is good because it not only destroys the roots, but also fertilizes the soil well. The same procedure is carried out as described above, only nothing needs to be set on fire at the end. After the roots have dissolved, this soil can be used to grow flowers.
  • Common salt. A simple and affordable means of removing unwanted roots. Take coarse table salt, pour it into the holes and leave it for the winter. A small stump will take about 300 grams of salt. Then just fill the area with earth. The stump will decompose itself. Nothing can be planted in this area, the soil is too salty. But for changing the landscape, this method is perfect.
  • Special products from the store. You can buy a weed remover, pour it on a fresh cut of a tree and wrap it up for the winter. After about a year and a half, the remains of the stump can be easily removed. No new growth will appear.

Mechanical methods

Mechanical methods are more labor intensive, but you don't have to wait long. You can get rid of hated stumps quickly and immediately. To make the work efficient, get a pick, a special tool for uprooting. Ordinary shovels will dull quickly.

Methods of mechanical uprooting:

  • Manual method. This method requires great strength and perseverance. However, among gardeners and gardeners, it remains the most popular due to its cheapness and availability. It does not require any special skills. You need to have time in reserve and strong assistants. The time of year doesn't matter. It is enough to dig and cut off the roots until the stump is pulled out. If you act correctly, even the deepest roots can be removed, and you do not have to wait a year for this. However, if there is no experience and skill, injuries are possible.
  • Excavator. A very fast and efficient method. However, it is advisable to hire special equipment only if there are a lot of stumps and enough space on the site. For example, if we are talking about a park or an orchard, then this method can even be called economical. But in the event that there is not enough free space, there is a lawn, paths, fenced areas nearby, then it will be impossible to use such bulky equipment. If you do not plan to plant new trees, then the holes after the excavator will need to be covered with earth.
  • Pneumatic crusher. A crusher is a device that enters the ground by about 30 cm and cuts the roots into small chips. For hard-rooted trees, this is a great way to remove. It is compact in size, acts quickly, does not dig deep holes. However, it enters the soil shallowly, roots may remain in the ground, which then sprout. If the site is contaminated with something, large debris, stones can lead to breakage of the crusher.
  • Winch. This is almost a manual method of removal, but here a simple mechanism called a lever comes to the rescue. The stump needs to be dug up, some roots cut off. Then tie a cable to it, and wrap the other end around the tree and attach it to the winch, and then pull it. If the stump is dug very well, it will fly out of the pit quite unexpectedly and abruptly. So you have to be careful not to hit anyone. This method, although it sounds simple, but requires certain skills. If you do not have any, it is better to hire specialists. This will make it easier, faster and safer.

The best method has to be chosen according to specific conditions: the size of the stump, the thickness of the roots, etc. In any case, you will have to make a lot of effort to solve the problem.

More information can be found in the video.

Category:Trees | Trees

Destruction of the roots of trees and bushes: the best means and methods

Renovation of the garden is invariably accompanied by cutting down old trees and planting new ones. But after that, one problem appears: stumps remain in place of the removed plants, which not only spoil the appearance of the garden, but also reduce the potential area for new plantings.

This article will describe the main ways to destroy the roots and stumps of trees, and step-by-step instructions for the mechanical and chemical removal of wood residues will help clear the garden of old stumps.

Contents:

  1. What is the purpose of removing tree roots
  2. Preparation for destruction of tree roots
  3. Methods for removing tree roots
    1. Mechanical uprooting
    2. Chemical removal of tree roots
  4. How to remove roots yourself
    1. Safety when removing roots and stumps

What is the purpose of removing tree roots

Removing an old stump has not only aesthetic, but also practical value. As a rule, they appear on the site after the old tree has already been cut down and disposed of. Just removing a tree from the site is easy, while removing its overgrown roots and large stump is much more difficult. Many people use the old proven mechanical uprooting, but there are a variety of chemicals on the modern horticultural market that make this process much easier.

See also: Do-it-yourself drip irrigation

If the root and part of the trunk do not bother you, you can turn it into a kind of garden decoration by planting flowers inside it or decorating it in any other way at your own request. However, there are times when destruction is not just a whim, but a necessity. This happens if the tree was cut down due to illness. If even a small part of it is left in the ground, it can become a source of infection for the rest of the trees in the garden. In addition, the remains of an old plant occupy a usable area, because in their place you can plant a young tree or shrub, which will bring a crop in the future.

Preparing to destroy the roots of trees

Before you start removing the roots, you should decide on the method you will use for this. Wood residues can be destroyed mechanically or chemically.

If you prefer to manually uproot part of the trunk, you will need a saw, a shovel and an axe. In this case, you will first have to dig a hole around the stump, chop or file its roots and gradually, piece by piece, remove the wood from the soil.

Note: The mechanical method is considered obsolete not only because of the high labor costs, but also because some large specimens are difficult to manually remove, and the remains can only be uprooted from the soil with the help of machinery.

The chemical method is considered more modern. The remains of wood are simply treated with a special preparation that accelerates the process of fiber destruction. As a result, in a short time, the remains of the trunk begin to crumble, and you just have to remove it.

Figure 1. Preparatory work

Depending on the chosen method, you will need some preparation (Figure 1). With mechanical removal, you need to dig a hole around the trunk in advance and prepare all the necessary tools, and in some cases, rent special equipment. If you opted for the chemical method, you will need to buy special treatment products, as well as prepare a spray gun and protective clothing.

Methods for removing tree roots

As mentioned above, roots and stumps can be destroyed mechanically and chemically. Since they are fundamentally different from each other, we will look at the features, advantages and disadvantages of each of them in more detail so that you can choose the right one for yourself.

Mechanical uprooting

This method is considered the oldest, since the process uses tools with which the roots are filed, and the stump is simply uprooted from the ground. A more modern mechanical method involves the involvement of heavy equipment (excavators, bulldozers or special pullers), but, unfortunately, not everyone can pay for the rental of such equipment. In addition, it is far from always possible for heavy equipment to enter the site.

Figure 2. Mechanical uprooting

If you don't want or can't use heavy equipment, you can also remove the stump manually. This will require some preparation. First, the remains of the plant must be freed from the surrounding earth by digging the soil with a shovel. Secondly, you need to prepare in advance the equipment with which the trunk will be removed from the ground (Figure 2).

Mechanical uprooting is carried out as follows:

  1. After the stump is freed from the soil, it must be tied with a cable attached to the winch. It is better to fasten the cable immediately under the saw cut so that it acts as a lever when tipping over. The winch can be tied to a regular car.
  2. If it is not possible to use a winch, the frame can be removed by cutting off the remains of the roots with an ax or cutting down with a saw.
  3. Once the trunk is free of lateral roots, it can be easily swung and removed.

This method is the cheapest, and with some effort, a large root can be uprooted in a day. However, this method is accompanied by significant labor costs. In addition, if you plan to carry out construction on this site, a mechanical removal method will not work for you, as the remnants of the roots may remain in the ground.

Chemical tree root removal

Chemical stump removal is simpler and more modern, although it has certain features. As a rule, saltpeter is used to destroy wood residues - a chemical with a powerful oxidizing effect, which quickly destroys not only the aerial part, but also the roots (Figure 3).

Removal of roots with saltpeter is carried out as follows:

  1. At the end of summer or beginning of autumn, several holes are drilled in the trunk. For this purpose, it is better to use the thickest drills so that the diameter of the holes is large.
  2. Potassium or sodium nitrate is poured into the holes obtained and poured with plenty of water. The liquid will dissolve the chemical and it will penetrate the wood fibers faster.
  3. The top of the trunk should be covered with pieces of wood or covered with foil, tightly tied to the trunk. This will prevent chemical vapors from escaping, and the destruction process will be more active.

The stump prepared in this way should be left until next summer. During this time, saltpeter will saturate not only the trunk, but also the roots. After that, you need to either pour a small amount of kerosene on the remains of the tree, or light a fire around the stump. The tree will begin to smolder, and all you have to do is remove its remains and dig up the site.

Note: It is important to consider that this method is not suitable for areas with peaty soil, since the roots soaked with saltpeter after ignition can cause a fire in the deep layers of the soil.

This method is good because it requires minimal physical effort, and all the remains of the tree will be completely removed. An exception can only be thick and deep-lying roots, but they will be destroyed so much that they will not be able to give young shoots.

Figure 3. Chemical destruction with saltpeter

But when using saltpeter, it should be borne in mind that in large quantities it negatively affects the fertility of the soil, so it will not be possible to grow fruit and vegetable crops in this area for several years.

DIY root removal

Another easy DIY method for removing roots and stumps is using urea. This method is also considered chemical, but its advantage is that even large stumps can be removed quickly and with minimal labor.

Preparation of the barrel for removal is similar to the saltpeter method: large holes are drilled in the barrel, into which urea (urea) is poured. Each hole is filled with water, and the saw cut is tightly covered with a film. After 1-2 years, both the trunk and the roots remaining in the soil will completely rot and turn into fertile soil (Figure 4).

Figure 4. Chemical uprooting with urea

The main advantage of this method is considered to be low labor costs. But it should also be borne in mind that when using urea to remove stumps, all wood is destroyed: not only the trunk, but also the roots that go deep into the soil. In addition, after such treatment, the soil is not polluted with chemicals, remains fertile and suitable for growing other crops. Of the shortcomings, only a long period of stump removal can be distinguished: it can take 1-2 years to destroy large specimens, but if you want to maintain high soil quality and not make serious physical effort, this method will be the most suitable.


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