How to dig up a big tree stump

How to Remove a Tree Stump

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Tree stumps are often left in the ground for a reason — they can be very difficult to remove. Removing a tree stump is not as impossible as it seems though. In fact, with the right advice and tools, you can do the job yourself. Here are a few ways to get the job done.

Dig Out the Tree Stump

Step 1. Dig Around the Roots

Dig out the soil around the stump. Expose as much of the roots as possible, by removing the surrounding soil using a shovel or spade. Work in a circle around the stump, removing the dirt. You may need to dig fairly deep on each side of the larger roots to really expose them so that you can cut or chop them up. If you cannot uncover the largest roots of the stump, consider a different method of removing the stump.

Step 2. Cut Up and Remove the Roots

Chop up any exposed roots. Cutting up the roots can be done quite a few ways. Depending on root diameter, you can use bypass loppers, a saw, a shovel, an axe, or a hatchet. The goal is to chop them up or cut them into pieces for easy removal by hand.

Wear safety glasses to protect your eyes from flying debris when using an axe to cut up roots.

Wear work gloves to protect your hands while you remove roots from the ground.

Step 3. Remove the Tree Stump

Pull out the stump. Once a majority of the stump root structure has been removed or damaged enough, you should be able to pull it out of the ground or push it over, tearing it away from any remaining small roots that are still attached.

Use your shovel as a lever to pry the stump up if need be.

Gather up the cut-up roots and pieces, along with the stump, and discard them. Consider chopping them up further and adding them to your compost pile, if you have one.

Step 4. Patch the Hole

Fill the hole where the stump once was with topsoil, loam or potting soil, etc. Pack it down by hand or with a tamper so the ground is level with the surrounding area. Add grass seed or lawn repair patching to the area so grass grows in and matches the area with the rest of the yard.

Grind the Tree Stump

Step 1. Rent a Stump Grinder

Use a stump grinder when necessary. Some stumps are too large or stubborn to be removed by digging them out. In many cases, a stump grinder might be needed to shred the stump for easy removal. Stump grinders can be rented at home improvement centers and stores. These machines work by grinding the stump and roots down to about 1’ into the ground, which is usually enough to destroy the whole stump.

Wear eye protection, gloves and earplugs while operating a stump grinder.

Step 2. Grind the Tree Stump

Follow all instructions for operating the stump grinder. Place the grinder over the stump and activate it. It will grind the stump down and then work its way into the ground to cut up the roots. Once you’ve ground the stump down into the ground, use the grinder on the area directly around the stump location to also get the root structure.

Step 3. Remove Debris and Fill the Hole

Use a shovel to remove the ground-up stump and roots and other debris. Discard of the debris in a yard refuse bag or add it to your compost pile.

Fill the hole where the stump once was with topsoil, loam or potting soil, etc. Pack it down by hand or with a tamper. Add grass seed or lawn repair patching to the area so grass grows in and matches the rest of the area.

Burn the Tree Stump

Step 1. Build a Fire

Build a fire upon and around the stump to burn. Ignite the fire and let it burn for several hours — refuel it with wood to keep the fire going. This process can take quite a bit of time, so plan accordingly. Start as early in the day as possible. Before you start, check your local ordinances to see if outdoor fires are legal in your community.

Don’t leave the burning stump unattended.

Make sure there is nothing else flammable within 3’ of the fire.

Keep a garden hose nearby to extinguish the flames in an emergency.

Step 2. Remove Ashes and Fill Hole

After the fire has been extinguished and the stump burned down, shovel out the ashes and place them in a metal bucket in case there are remaining hot embers or ash. You can discard of the ashes later when they have completely cooled.

Fill the hole with topsoil and tamp it down until it is level with the surrounding area.

Use a Chemical Stump Remover

Another stump removal option is to use a chemical stump remover. This is the least labor-intensive method, but also takes the longest to remove the stump. It can take weeks to soften the wood enough to chop up.

In order to effectively use a chemical stump remover, you need to create holes in the stump into which the chemical can be applied. Use a drill with a large bit to drill a number of holes in the top of the stump. The holes don’t need to be a particular size, but should be large enough for you to be able to pour in the stump remover.

The remover itself usually comes in powdered form and is sprinkled/poured into the holes. Over time, the chemical stump remover softens the wood and speeds up decomposition. Follow all manufacturer instructions before applying the remover.

Keep children and pets away from the stump area to avoid the risk of ingestion or other contact.

When the wood has decomposed and softened, chop it up with a hatchet or shovel and remove the debris. Fill in the area with soil and level it off like you did with the other removal methods above.

You can also burn the remaining softened wood if it is hard to chop up and remove. Use the directions provided above to burn the rest of the stump.

Great work! The tree stump has been removed and you’re ready to tackle some other lawn and garden projects.

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Here’s what you’ll need to complete this project successfully.

How to Dig a Stump Out With a Shovel | Home Guides

By Danielle Smyth Updated May 11, 2022

Removing dead or diseased trees can be necessary to keep your yard healthy, and using a tree stump grinder is a popular way to do so. Tree removal without stump grinding usually leaves you with a dead tree stump, sometimes right in the middle of an area you’d like to use. Nature will decompose the stump over time, but if you’re looking to use that space yourself, you’ll want to put some effort into getting the stump out on your own.

Tree Stump Remover Ideas

The most efficient way to get rid of a tree stump is to use a stump grinder to grind the stump and accessible roots into sawdust. However, stump grinders are too expensive for the average homeowner to justify a purchase. Professional tree care companies can come out to grind the stump, but that takes time and costs money. Digging out a tree stump with a mini excavator is also an option, albeit an expensive one.

Homeowners often look to burning out a stump using a controlled burn to reduce the stump to ash, but that can be risky, and it might require a permit. There are a number of methods touted online to help decompose a stump more quickly, but many of them give mixed results.

Rather than spending money and time on these removal methods, many homeowners attempt to dig out the stump themselves. If you’re determined to dig out the stump yourself and the stump is on the small side, you may be able to dig it out with a shovel.

Digging Up a Tree Stump

Start by removing the remainder of the tree, leaving a portion of the stump above ground. Don’t cut the stump down to grass level because leaving some of it helps you get more leverage when trying to pry out pieces.

Next, dig a trench around the stump. You’ll need to go deep enough to get access to the major roots from the tree; this can mean you need a trench that is up to 24 inches deep. You’ll also want to be anywhere from 12 to 36 inches away from the stump. Tree roots grow wide, and you’ll need to get under them to pry out the stump.

This Old House recommends using a pointed shovel for this sort of work. While you’re digging the trench, cut through the roots as you find them with the edge of the shovel. If the roots are too large for the shovel, use a hatchet or a saw to sever them. Clear roots away from the trench as needed to ensure you have good access to the stump.

Finishing the Removal

Once you’ve finished the trench and cut through the roots you’ve found, insert the shovel underneath prominent roots or the stump itself and use the shovel to start to pry the stump from the ground. Continue in a circle around the stump, working the shovel into the roots and prying everything out of the ground. The roots will loosen as you go; cut any that don’t with the shovel edge or the hatchet to help ease out the stump. With smaller trees, you’ll likely be able to pull the remainder of the tree and roots from the ground simply by using the shovel.

Larger stumps are a different story. If the shovel handle isn’t strong enough to pry out the stump, use a pry bar to get the leverage you need.

Once the stump is out, cut away any remaining visible roots and dispose of the material as necessary. True Value recommends that you then fill in the hole with new soil, either topsoil, potting soil or loam. Then, cover the site of the stump as desired, either with grass seed or with a garden.

Things You Will Need


  • This Old House: How to Get Rid of Tree Stumps
  • True Value: How to Remove a Tree Stump


  • As any remaining roots of the stump break down and decay, they will provide additional nutrients to the surrounding soil.


  • Always wear gloves, eye protection and other protective gear when attempting to remove stumps. If you use a chainsaw, grinder or wood chipper to break down the stump after removal make sure you follow all safety recommendations to avoid injury.

Writer Bio

Danielle Smyth is a writer and content marketer from upstate New York. She holds a Master of Science in Publishing from Pace University. She owns her own content marketing agency, <a href="https://www.">Wordsmyth Creative Content Marketing</a>, and she enjoys writing home and DIY articles and blogs for clients in a variety of related industries. She also runs her own lifestyle blog, <a href="">Sweet Frivolity</a>.

how to uproot a stump with your own hands without effort + video

Tell me a simple way how to uproot a stump on the site.

When developing a site or renovating a garden, the issue of removing stumps becomes relevant. It is not always possible to attract equipment to uproot them, and then you have to do everything yourself. By learning how to get rid of stumps without much effort and watching a video, you will be able to cope with this task.


    • Existing methods of removing stumps with your own hands
  • Removing stumps using a winch
  • The use of potassium and urea
  • salt, water and mushrooms
    • stumps: video


You can uproot stumps yourself in the following ways:

  • manually with an ax, crowbar and great physical effort;
  • with winch;
  • using chemicals;
  • without chemicals.

The first method is very time consuming, so we will leave it unattended. The last 3 remain.

Removing a stump with a winch

This method makes it easier to remove high stumps, about 1 m. In addition to a winch with a lifting capacity of 3 tons, you will need a lever, a rope, an ax and a shovel as auxiliary tools. Having collected all this set, you can get down to business:

Mechanical removal of the stump
  1. Dig the object, going deep until the root system is visible.
  2. Trim the roots or chop them with an axe.
  3. Secure the winch using a support nearby.
  4. Fasten the cable to the stump, put some strong piece of wood under it on the side where the winch is located. It will serve as a support when the stump bends as a result of the applied efforts.
  5. Start winching. The stump will gradually come out of the ground along with the remnants of the roots, and if something remains, the same winch will help to pull it out.

This method greatly facilitates the removal of the stump, but the use of physical force does not preclude it. Therefore, if you want to achieve a result, completely freeing yourself from hard work, then use the help of chemistry.

Use of potassium nitrate and urea

To use this method, cut the stump low. In autumn, drill a series of holes in it with a diameter of about 6 cm and up to 40 cm deep. In this case, for every 1oo mm of the stump diameter, there should be 1 hole.

Chemical destruction of the stump

When frosts begin, pour saltpeter into each hole, pour water over it, tamp it down, and wrapping the stump with polyethylene film, leave it to winter.

Advice: to stimulate the absorption of saltpeter, it is practiced to use a solution of high concentration, which is replenished for several days in a row.

In the spring, a dry stump is opened, gasoline is poured into one of the holes and set on fire. Everything burns out quickly due to the presence in the body of a stump of a large amount of oxygen released when saltpeter is heated.

Attention: the method must not be used on peat bogs. This can cause a massive underground fire.

Urea decomposes wood, so after a year it will simply disappear. The technology of application is no different from the previous one, only instead of nitrate, urea is placed in the holes. In the spring, having removed the cellophane, you will see that you do not even need the help of fire.

Salt, water and mushrooms

If the stump is in the place where you plan to build some kind of structure, then the destruction of the unwanted object can be done with ordinary kitchen salt, only coarse. The stump soaked in salt will turn into dust.

Attention: do not use salt in the garden and on the beds, it will destroy not only the stump, but also the soil around.

Is there an alternative to chemistry? Just the following method is just that. It is not only effective, but also useful, however, one should not expect a quick result, because. the destruction of the stump will last more than 1 year. We are talking about the colonization of the removal object with fungal spores. To do this, holes are made in the stump and the mycelium of mushrooms or oyster mushrooms is covered, watered and covered with a film. The crop is harvested in a year, and the sent organisms gradually do their job - they destroy the stump.

Destruction of a stump by adding a fungus

You can also use this simple and quick method:

  1. Dig a hole around the trunk, then step back 0.5 m from the stump and dig another trench in a circle.
  2. Use a hose and high-pressure water jet to wash the roots off the ground.
  3. Wait until the water in the hole soaks into the ground, cut off the roots and pull out the stump hanging in the air.

As you can see, you can deal with stumps on your own. You just need to choose the most suitable method.

Uprooting a stump: video


Content ✓

  • ✓ Removing stump per hour with your own hands - video
  • ✓ Removing stumps on the site - Dummers and reviews of summer residents
  • ✓ Removing the stump with a chemical way - video

Causes that it has time to make a tree , many reasons can serve - for example, improper pruning, after which the fruit tree in the garden ceased to bear fruit (to prevent this from happening, read our article: How to properly prune trees in the garden), maybe the tree has outgrown the fruiting period and has become old, withered from the heat or pest damage, withered in the shade of another large tree from lack of sun.

If you do not have sufficient experience in uprooting trees, the stump left after cutting can be carried for more than one week.

Let's make a reservation right away that different trees are uprooted in different ways - some are faster, others take longer - it all depends on the root system. Of course, it’s faster to uproot a shrub than, for example, an old cherry tree or a stump left over from a birch tree that remembers King Peas.


Using the example of uprooting stumps from two apple trees, we will give an example of how you can uproot a garden tree as quickly as possible and with the least loss of strength.

We had to uproot two apple trees, one of which grew on a slope, and the other on level ground. The diameter of the trunks near the ground was about 35-40 cm.

The trees were cut beforehand, leaving a large shoulder of the trunk, so that it was easy to swing it and cut off deep-lying roots. The stump is quite tall. For work, a sharp, narrow garden saw, a pruner, a shovel and a bucket were needed.

First, they dug out to the depth of the bayonet of a shovel a near-trunk circle with a diameter of about 1.5 meters. Then a jet of water from a hose washed away the ground in this circle.

On the slope, the water, together with the earth, left the hole by gravity, through a groove dug in advance. On level ground, water with earth had to be scooped out with a bucket. The roots were quickly exposed, and further work did not go blindly.

The roots were cut with a saw, making two cuts on each. Thus, logs 5-10 centimeters long were cut out so that when rocking, the roots would not spring and rest. Gradually, all the lateral roots of the tree were cut out in this way, and the central ones, going deep down, tore when rocking.

Without heavy physical effort, the apple tree that grew on the slope was uprooted in two hours, and the one on level ground in four hours.

Removing stump per hour with your own hands - video

How to remove the stump for one hour,

Watch this video on youtube

Removal of stumps on the site - tips and reviews of summer residents


When in 1987, our family was given a plot of six acres in the Kaluga region, our joy knew no bounds, although the site was simply a forest thicket of aspens, birches and various shrubs. There were even a couple of healthy firs and oaks. In short, the real inconvenience.

As local old-timers later told me, the territory allotted for horticulture came to such a “thickening” after cutting down the beautiful timber spruce forest that used to grow here during the Great Patriotic War. In subsequent years, no one cared for this area, so it eventually took on the appearance of a real jungle.

And who can handle them now? That's right - only summer residents who dream of settling on their land. And we really, with great enthusiasm, rushed into the work, as if into a whirlpool. The scale of the upcoming accomplishments did not frighten us at all, nor did domestic inconveniences. In the end, all this can be seen as an adventure. As I found out much later, this site was offered to my friend, but he refused it, referring to the large number of trees growing on it. Well, we started, of course, with their felling.

When the territory was more or less freed from forest thickets, my son and I immediately built a hut from improvised materials. Large branches of cut down trees and sheets of roofing material went into action.

The next step was to equip the latrine. We bought a booth on the construction market, which we had to assemble on the spot on our own from wooden components. They brought all these parts on a hired truck to the site, unloaded it themselves and built everything themselves. This toilet, by the way, is still alive and regularly performs its functions, and its location on the site has not changed.

Is it possible to fool an oak tree?

After that, it's time to think about how to clear the area of ​​stumps, and there were more than 60 of them, and among them there were double and even triple monsters. I asked my son to make a site plan and in detail, observing all sizes and distances, apply all this “wealth” to it. On paper, by the way, the picture turned out to be somehow more formidable than in reality: like thick explosions on the battlefield (see fig.).

Uprooting section

On the other hand, thanks to the drawing, it was possible to plan your work, determining which stumps would be easier to remove first of all, clearing a springboard for the battle with larger specimens.

We immediately abandoned the idea of ​​uprooting stumps with the help of caterpillar construction equipment when we saw what the neighboring areas had turned into after that: they were literally dotted with deep and wide ruts left by heavy tractors, and between them gaped huge funnel holes with a diameter of several meters. And in everything it turned out that leveling the “bombed out” section was no less difficult and costly than the uprooting itself. No, we do not need such mechanized tillage.

We had to learn manual stump removal. With a sharp sapper shovel, to which everyone who was in the army has immense respect, we exposed the roots, then chopped off each of them with sharp axes, and finally, grabbing the top of the stump together, pulled it out of the ground in one fell swoop. Yes, the job was not easy. Before lunch, we had time to uproot two or three stumps in this way, and after lunch, about the same. And so all weekends and holidays. It took us a whole summer to completely free the site from stumps. On the other hand, the liberated area was almost flat, because the pits (and they turned out to be not too large with this technique) we immediately covered with earth mixed with any plant organic matter left after clearing the land.

However, in the very corner of the site there was one stump that was beyond our strength. No matter how we fought him, we could not defeat him. Even a sharp, heavy ax bounced off the roots like a ball. Apparently, our forces were already running out. I also argued with my son, assuring that it was probably an oak, but he did not agree with me and said that we were dealing with a stubborn and old aspen, which had hardened in the struggle under the sun with its neighbors.

In short, we decided to leave this stump until next summer: there, you see, our strength will increase, and some idea will come.

When we arrived at the site in spring, we saw that the stump had sprouted with leaves. And it turned out to be an oak tree!

"Well, what are your thoughts now?" - my son asked me, looking at this unyielding "old-timer". “You know, let’s leave him alone,” I suggested. “He’s almost on the border, he doesn’t interfere with us, let him sit.” And the oak took offense at us for the fact that we began to ignore its strength: after a few years, the stump simply rotted itself, and we removed its remains without much effort.

And we devoted our second summer to sawing stumps and splitting logs made from them. As a result, we also prepared a large amount of firewood (by winter they completely dried out), and the site was leveled to such an extent that it became available for further development and construction of a utility block on it, and then a house.

At that time my son was 16 years old, I was 46, in general, I had strength. Now, when I am already over 70, I can only wonder how we managed to do so much with our own hands, without using heavy construction equipment? I think that our experience in clearing the land from stumps can be useful for summer residents who are just starting to develop their plots.

© Author: Alexander Nikolayevich Moscow


Stumps remain after cutting trees. It is difficult to uproot them, not everyone can do it. How to avoid a tedious procedure? Here are 3 options.

how to get rid of a stump in the garden?
  1. Cut off the stump at ground level. Arrange a compost pile above it for a year (the remaining roots will begin to die off faster). In the second year, remove the compost, cover the stump with soil and plant vegetables. In the third year, you can again plant a fruit tree nearby (it is better to plant a plum in the place of the old apple tree, and an apple tree in the place of the plum). And the stump will sopreet for several years.
  2. Pour sodium or potassium nitrate (100-200 g) into the hollow or hole made in the stump and cover the stump with a film. And set fire to it after a year. Fire and chemical reaction will destroy even the underground part of the old plant.
  3. When using ammonium nitrate or urea, as in the previous method, the need for arson will disappear by itself (after a few years there is no trace of the stump).

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