How to grind down tree stumps
How to Remove a Stump Without a Grinder
After you hire a commercial tree service to remove a tree, they can also remove the remaining stumps for an extra fee. Or, you can hire a different company to come in and do this work. But if you have felled the tree yourself, the task of removing the stump is left up to you—and it can be as difficult as removing the tree itself. You can hire a firm to come in with a large mechanical grinder to churn the stump into sawdust, but this can be expensive. Commercial stump removal can cost as much as $800 for a large stump or one in a tricky location. You could also rent a stump grinder for $150 to $400 per day, but getting this tool on-site and using it safely is no easy feat. But there are several methods that you can use to do this work without contractor costs or large equipment.
Equipment / Tools
- Digging bar
- Bow saws
- Steel-toed work boots
- Work gloves
- Drill with large bit
- Chain saw
- Plastic tarp
- Drill and large bit
- High-nitrogen garden fertilizer or potassium-nitrate tree stump removal granules
- Garden mulch
- Stump Out chemical
Watch Now: How to Remove a Tree Stump Without a Grinder
When to Remove a Tree Stump
A tree stump can be removed at any time after the tree is felled, but manual removal is sometimes easier if the stump has aged and dried out somewhat. If you have the ability to let the stump remain in place for a full year or even two, the dried wood may be easier to cut out than when working on a new stump that is still green. Chemical removal, however, should begin immediately after you remove the tree.
Before Getting Started
A small- to medium-sized stump can be removed by good old-fashioned muscle work. But larger stumps can involve so much work that it's not practical—unless you can drag it out of the earth with a chain attached to the back of a pickup. For larger stumps, use the chemical method instead. A useful tool for manual removal is a mattock, which has a broad end for digging and a sharpened end for slicing. Everyone has favorite tools to use, though, and the more various digging and cutting tools you have on hand, the better. For larger stumps, you may want to enlist the aid of a helper or two to speed the work.
For those who are not up to the physical effort, or have a tree stump is too large to remove by hand, there is an easier—though much slower—method. All wood will eventually decay and rot away, and it is possible to speed up this process by keeping the stump moist and adding nitrogen in the form of a high-nitrogen fertilizer or potassium nitrate stump-removal granules. This is not an instant process—it can take a matter of months or even a year or so before a stump vanishes completely—but it is quite easy.
There is a tree stump removal product that comes in a powdered form, called "Stump-Out," which is designed to break down the wood fiber of stumps, leaving them porous. The porous wood then absorbs kerosene readily. After the porous wood is soaked with kerosene and ignited, it begins to burn away, and the fire soon becomes a low, smoldering flame. If the use of kerosene and flame is acceptable to you (and allowed in your community), this is another cheap and easy option to remove a tree stump.
Disposal of large tree stumps can be difficult. Contact your local waste disposal authorities for instructions on how and where to dispose of large garden waste items.
How to Remove a Tree Stump ManuallyThe Spruce / Ana Cadena
Dig Down Around the Stump
Dig around the stump with the mattock's broad end. Once you have loosened the dirt in this fashion, shovel it out of your way. Be prepared to clear away a lot of soil. The bigger the stump, the more earth you'll be moving. This is necessary to gain access to all the roots that need cutting.
When digging out a stump by hand, a hose or pressure washer can be helpful to wash away dirt to expose roots as you dig downward.The Spruce / Ana Cadena
Sever Visible Roots
Use the other end of the mattock to start chopping your way through the tree roots. A bow saw can also be used to sever the roots as you uncover them.
Expose the Tap Root
Dig and chop your way under the root ball to the taproot. For all but the smallest of trees, taproots will be imposing enough to require cutting with an ax or large bow saw. Clean excess dirt off the taproot with a wet rag before cutting.
Sever the Tap Root
Chop through the taproot with your ax or with a bow saw. Be careful that the area is clear of people, pets, and objects before you start swinging the ax. Aim the ax carefully so that it does not strike dirt (which would dull the blade). Always wear steel-toed boots when wielding an ax.
It's best not to use an ax unless you have been educated in handling one properly. If you're not confident, try to use a bow saw for all your cutting. It may require more digging to expose the roots, but it will be safer.
Extract the Stump
Pull the stump from the hole. This may require the use of ropes or chains, as well as the assistance of helpers or a vehicle to yank a large stump from the ground.
How to Remove a Tree Stump Chemically
Cut Stump to Ground Level
Use a chain saw or bow saw to cut the stump down as close to the ground as you can, without allowing the chain saw's teeth to strike the ground (this will dull your chain). Wear steel-toed boots for this part of the job.
Drill Holes and Add Chemical
Drill holes a few inches deep into the stump in numerous places, using the biggest, widest drill bit you have. The wider and deeper the holes, the better.
Fill these holes first with water, then with a fertilizer high in nitrogen or stump-remover granules.
Potassium nitrate is considered a hazardous substance, so use caution when applying potassium nitrate stump-removal granules.
Water and Cover the Stump
Soak the ground all around the stump. Cover the stump with a plastic tarp. The tarp will act as a barrier to help retain moisture in and around the stump. Moisture is a powerful ally to have on your side for this project.
Apply an organic mulch over the plastic tarp, and water it thoroughly. An organic mulch such as tree bark or hay will hold additional moisture, keeping the area even wetter. Wet mulch is also heavy, which will help weigh the tarp down so that it doesn't blow away. For additional weight, roll some heavy stones onto the tarp. The mulch also serves the purpose of hiding the tarp from public view.
Covered with mulch, the tree stump will be invisible as it begins to rot away. You can even cover the mulched area with various planted pots and container gardens.
Tend the Stump While It Decays
Over the coming weeks, periodically remove the mulch and tarp and apply more water and nitrogen to the stump, then cover it again. Some patience is required here, as it can still take quite some time for the stump to completely rot away. But it will be considerably faster than the decay process normally occurs in nature.
Remove the Pieces
After four to six weeks, the stump may become soft and spongy enough to begin breaking it apart with an ax. Whatever wood cannot be broken up and removed should be treated again with water and nitrogen. At some point, you can bury what remains and let it complete the decay process underground.
How to Remove a Stump by Burning
Drill Holes and Apply Chemical
Drill holes into the stump with a drill and a large bit. Apply Stump Out chemical granules, then fill the holes with water. Wait four to six weeks for the chemical to do its work.
The more porous the stump, the more kerosine will be absorbed and the longer it will burn.
Soak With Kerosene
Slowly pour kerosene over the stump, taking care not to allow the fluid to run off and pool on the ground. Take your time to allow the kerosene to soak in. Never use gasoline or motor oil to burn a stump—gasoline is dangerously explosive, and motor oil creates toxic smoke when burning.
Tend the Fire
Ignite the stump and observe it from a safe distance as it burns. Remember that the stump may continue to smolder underground for quite some time, so put up barricades to prevent people or animals from accidentally walking over the embers.
Check out local community ordinances regarding open burning before using this method. While it is generally allowed in rural areas, urban and suburban locations often do not allow open burning of stumps.
A Sample Contract for Tree Removal
When to Call a Professional
No matter what method you use, a tree stump of any appreciable size involves quite a bit of hard manual labor and often the use of potentially dangerous tools or materials. If, after reviewing these various methods, you have concerns about safety or the physical fitness required to do the work, it is best to call a professional removal service, who will have the tools and personnel to do this work quickly and safely.
It's very common for a homeowner who removes a stump themselves to then resolve to never, ever, do it again. The cost of professional stump removal often seems like a bargain to anyone who has ever tried to do it themselves.
Stump grinding and removal tips from tree experts
Many clients long to have a flat, well-manicured lawn, but if their yards have pesky stumps in the way, the aesthetic can be thrown off.
Take a look at a few tips tree experts recommend when removing a stump, as well as how to avoid some of the most commonly made mistakes during the process.Your preferred method
Stump grinding is the name of the game for Todd Burke, owner of Dave’s Tree Services in Egg Harbor, Wisconsin, as it’s one of the most commonly performed services in their area.
While there may be multiple methods for removing stumps, in his experience, Burke says the best way is by using equipment specifically designed for stump removal.
“You can fight with a lot of different methods, but an actual stump grinder is going to do the job best,” says Burke. “Heavy equipment will do the job, but it’s not the answer. You’re going to have a big mess that way.”
For their crews, Burke says they have two different stumpers. A larger one is pulled behind their vehicle and is used on larger projects, and the other is self-propelled and used on smaller projects.
Burke says he’s seen people use chemicals to remove stumps and others that attempted burning the stumps out, but he says he’s personally never seen the best results come from these methods.
“Those are home remedies, I guess you could call it, that I don’t feel work very well,” says Burke. “And of course, you get homeowners that want to do it themselves and go down to the hardware store and rent a small handheld version of a stumper.”
If the stumps are small and are of the softwood variety, Burke says this can be an effective solution for homeowners who prefer to do their own stump removal, but if the stump is a hardwood variety or is larger, it won’t be as effective.
“I hear homeowners say all the time they’ll take care of the stump themselves, and I’ll make the comment, ‘Well, when that doesn’t work for you, feel free to give us a call back, and we’ll take care of it for you,’” says Burke. “Nine times out of 10, those people call us back. The other methods of stump removal just are not effective. ”Before you hit the site
Before starting the process of stump grinding, Burke says ensuring operator safety is paramount. The number one way Burke says someone can get injured while grinding a stump is by not knowing what’s under the ground.
Burke says the first step in this type of project is to get in touch with the local utility department and to call the Diggers Hotline to ensure all underground lines are clearly marked.
“Before we ever grind the stump, we make sure that yard has flags put out or there are marks spraypainted on the ground where there would be any utilities like a water line, electrical line or a gas line,” says Burke. “Whether this stump is properly marked for any underground utilities or not is your number one safety factor.”
When Burke does the locates or e-locates, he requests they mark out 10 feet around any stump that’s getting ground out. Burke adds that it doesn’t cost the customer or contractor anything to get these things marked off.
Burke says you need to also make sure you have properly trained staff working with you on these projects. To ensure this, Burke says they have safety manuals and a safety chart in each of their vehicles, and they perform safety training on all the equipment before getting out in the field.
“You do not want to take another individual who is not used to that machine, just give them a two-second rundown on how it works and have them go and grind stumps,” says Burke. “You want an operator very familiar with the machine.”
Even if everything is carefully marked, Burke recommends always having a plan in place to deal with what might happen if a line is hit.
“There should be safety policies and procedures so all of your stumper operators are aware of what they should do in case of an emergency,” says Burke. “When it comes to a job, no matter what job you’re doing, I don’t think you can be too safe or too prepared.”Photo: ShutterstockGetting started
Once on the jobsite, Burke says to set up a safety barricade around the stump to keep debris from flying back and hitting operators.
After the barricades are up and the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) is on, he recommends taking a pickaxe and going around the area of the stump to see if anything can be pulled up before grinding begins.
Burke says a popular reason among customers for why a stump needs to be removed is to help the look and layout of the yard. Stumps can get in the way of mowing and lawn maintenance, so removing them and filling in the hole can help restore the space to its former glory.
When grinding a stump, Burke says it’s important to make sure you grind deep enough that the whole mound is ground out, which includes the roots and any dirt that flares up to the stump.
Burke says in many cases, customers want a stump removed so they can use that space for other plants, and sometimes they want to replant a new tree in the area.
If this is the case, Burke recommends not planting a new tree in the exact spot where a stump was removed. Even when the process is done thoroughly and correctly, Burke says there’s always a chance that the stump was not ground deep enough to entirely remove old root remnants that could interfere with a new tree’s development. Instead, he recommends filling the hole in and planting new trees close to the area.
If operators aren’t comfortable grinding the stump located close to a marked line, Burke suggests opting out of grinding the stump with machinery. If that’s the case, Burke says you can take a chainsaw and flush it as close to the ground as you possible so it’s not as unsightly. Or, he says you can hand dig down next to the utility line and use a mechanical grinder if you feel confident you could remove the stump that way.
“Once you know that you are safe at that point to grind, then you can commence stump grinding, but then you be careful that you do not go deeper than what you hand dug,” says Burke. “Stumps can be ground when they’re close to utilities. You just have to use extreme caution.”
Once the project is complete, Burke says it’s best to immediately clear the site of all debris, as it will be much easier to clear while the chippings are light and fresh. Next, make sure the hole is completely cleared out and fill it in with fresh topsoil.
Burke says to then rake over the area and lightly pack it down. Lastly, he says to break up the top of the dirt a bit and sprinkle grass seeds on it to help encourage new growth in the area.
8 ways to remove stumps. ✅ Blog SpilKursk.PRO
from manual uprooting to chemical burning
Author: Goncharov Ivan Comments: 0 Reading time: 5 minutes
A stump in a garden plot can cause various problems: pests start growing in it, young shoots begin to grow, it interferes with the construction of new structures and simply takes up a lot of space. Because gardeners try remove the stump from the felled tree. There are different methods for removing stumps: mechanical or chemical. The former involve the use of manual force, tools or special equipment. Chemical methods are based on the application reagents that treat wood, as a result, the stump is destroyed, or completely burns out under the influence of fire. Each of the methods has its own characteristics and difficulties, so they need to be analyzed separately.
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MoreTable of contents
- Hand uprooting
- Stump crusher
- Fire burning
- Mushroom method
- Saltpeter destruction
- Stump salt
- Decomposition by urea
- Iron or copper sulfate
Effortlessly and quickly destroy the stump from a sawn tree excavator. But it is sometimes impossible to drive large-sized equipment to the site. A reasonable decision would be to contact a specialized company dealing with arboristry, in the arsenal of which there is a crusher, for example, SpilKursk.PRO But such equipment is not available to organizations in every region, therefore, one has to look for a method get rid of the stump yourself.
Uprooting stumps by hand is quite time consuming and requires preparation which involves clearing the ground. This can be done by digging the ground around the stump and its roots. Then remove the soil by discarding it in side. It remains to pull out the remains of the tree. There are several options for how to do this:
- Mechanically - saw off or cut off all lateral roots. The central root will remain, to separate which the stump must be turned and tilted in different directions so that it loosens well.
- Use winch - tie a rope around the trunk and roots, or pass it through specially drilled holes, and then gradually pull the tree debris out of the ground.
Cutting down a stump and uprooting it yourself is quite profitable, since such an approach does not require serious funding. During the day, using the manual method, they successfully get rid of several stumps on plot. But manual uprooting also has disadvantages, which are due to the laboriousness of the process, the need for additional assistants, the difficulties with digging a near-stem hole, and the remains of roots that interfere with construction. Although they remain with all methods, requiring additional uprooting.
The crushing technique involves the use of a special unit - a pneumatic crusher. The essence of the method is that the stump is crushed into chips together with part of the root system to a depth of to 50 cm . Crusher differs in small dimensions, therefore it will easily pass to the site through the garden gate.
See how the stump removal process looks like with a stump crusher:
The method has many advantages:
- after crushing, only a pile of sawdust remains in place of the stump;
- crushing does not take much time - about 30 minutes are spent on the average stump;
- after the destruction of the hemp in this way, plants can be planted immediately in the vacant place;
- method is suitable even for large stumps over a meter in diameter.
Among the minuses is the low crushing depth. A lawn is planted in the vacated place or a garden bed is equipped, even a garden path is laid. But for building a foundation or laying communication systems you will need to get rid of the root system completely, which is typical for other rooting methods.
Stump removal companies in the vast majority do not use any other removal methods other than manual uprooting and crushing, because. only these two methods can guarantee complete and rapid destruction of the stump.
Goncharov Ivan Arborist. Technical specialist at SpilKursk.PRO
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Employees of SpilKursk.PRO company will help to remove the stump without a trace!
Free method how to get rid of a stump - burning out. It is focused on the use of open fire. But just burning the wood remains is not enough; the root system will also have to be removed, since it will interfere with further. The burning method helps to remove the old stump without uprooting. But it is necessary to approach getting rid of the stump with fire wisely.
- Drill several deep holes in the stump.
- Pour kerosene, gasoline or coal lighter and other combustible liquid inside.
- Set fire to wood remains.
- If the stump is old, then the wood has already dried up, therefore it will quickly catch fire and burn out to the roots.
With this method, it is important to observe fire safety techniques so that the fire from the stump does not spread to summer cottages and does not cause a fire. For safety, it is worth pouring an earthen rampart around the pit so that the fire does not spread over the earth. The entire combustion process must be monitored, since the stump during smoldering can shoot strongly with long-lasting sparks, which can become a source of fire. For safety, you must prepare a fire extinguisher in advance and keep a hose nearby, connected to the water supply.
This method is well suited for small old stumps (up to 50 cm in circumference and up to half a meter in height). Removing a large fresh stump with the help of fire will be problematic and expensive: you will have to kindle a fire more than once, and the cost of spilled fuel can be equal to the cost of removal by crushing. The method also involves constant monitoring of the combustion process.
Another option how to remove the stump peacefully is to plant mycelium on it. It's easy to do:
- Drill a few holes on the top and side of the stump.
- It is good to spill them with water and sow mushroom mycelium. Mushrooms and oyster mushrooms are best suited.
- Suitable planting material can be purchased from specialized stores, or you can make your own from freshly picked mushrooms. To do this, the caps are crushed and poured with water, then they mix well and pour the solution into holes made.
- The best time for sowing mycelium is May-August.
- It is better to wrap the stump with moss and branches, moisten periodically.
- In just a few months, mushrooms will sprout on the stump.
Mushroom picker will draw moisture from the stump season after season, loosening the wood. The average stump gives a tolerable crop of mushrooms for 6 years , and then turns into dust. Then the residues can be easily removed without involving special equipment or chemicals.
One of the universal methods to remove stump chemically is the use of saltpeter. The essence of the technique is as follows:
- Many 30 cm holes of the largest possible diameter should be drilled in the remains of the sawn wood.
- Saltpeter is poured into the holes and well filled with warm water.
- To speed up the process, it is better to cover the stump with plastic wrap.
- If you carry out the procedure in the spring, then by the onset of autumn, the saltpeter will completely saturate the stump and have time to decompose.
- If the stump from a fruit tree is up to 15 cm in diameter, then 1 kg of saltpeter is enough for backfilling. If it is thicker, and the wood is harder, then the amount of saltpeter must be increased.
- When the wood is completely saturated with the chemical, the stump is set on fire.
Saltpeter burns well, which makes it easy to destroy even deep-growing roots. But the method also has a significant disadvantage. It will be possible to plant only flower crops on the site for several years, since the soil will not be suitable for vegetable crops. Therefore, this method is used when it is necessary to free up land for the construction of real estate.
See also: How to cut down a tree. 8 ways removal.
Another interesting option for the destruction of stumps on the site is etching with salt. Edible salt is a reagent substance that destroys wood remains. For the procedure you need:
- Drill deeper holes in the stump on all sides.
- Fill them with table salt.
- Pour water over and cover with foil for a couple of years.
- Once the stump has turned to dust, it can be removed by hand without much difficulty.
A significant drawback of the technique - after the use of salt, the soil will become unsuitable for growing crops, whether it be flowers or vegetables. For horticulture, you will have to wait a couple of years for the reagent to wash out of the soil.
Degradation by urea
One of the oldest methods of getting rid of stumps is urea. This method is the most effective and harmless, the substance is used to protect against pests and fertilizer, therefore it will not cause damage to crops. any harm. The reagent is absorbed into the wood species and destroys them from the inside. How to remove a stump with saltpeter:
- Drill more holes in the stump.
- Fill the holes with urea and fill with water.
- Cover the stump for efficient and more intensive decomposition with polyethylene.
Urea is not as harmful as other methods. After it, there are no salts and nitrates that pollute the soil. Decomposition begins quite quickly, and after a year or two, all the remains will rot, and on fertile land will remain in the cleared area. The method has one drawback - slow decomposition, which can stretch for 2-3 years .
See also: How to legally cut down a tree.
Iron or copper sulfate
These reagents are aggressive and are used as intended for root disinfection. They kill any bacteria. Chemicals are introduced into drilled holes 5-10 cm deep and 5-8 mm in diameter. Reagents must not be used near metal pipes due to increased metal corrosion. The concentration of vitriol in 3-5 meters the radius around the stump is so high that nothing will grow here, and if and it will be extremely bad.
If the roots are uprooted after the decomposition of the stump, then in a couple of years the increased amount of these substances will be reduced to the optimum and the soil will return to normal. If the roots are burned, the soil will remain unsuitable for planting. plants more over 10 years .
Always remember safety when using any substances:
- saltpeter of any origin is highly flammable, explosive substance, which must be remembered when lighting a treated stump;
- you can’t even smoke next to the stump in the first three months after laying the reagents, since they emit combustible gases;
- vitriol in dry form is safe for people, but it is necessary to work with it only with gloves;
- When burning stumps, keep a fire extinguisher on hand, a garden watering container filled with water, in order to quickly extinguish a spreading flame if necessary.
It is not recommended to use glyphosate-based reagents (Santi, Typhoon, etc.), which do not decompose in the soil themselves, but get into plants and their fruits, which is dangerous for people.
Arborist. Forest feller of the sixth category. Technical specialist in the organization SpilKursk.PRO, which provides services for the care of green spaces.
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How to cut down a tree correctly, how to fell trees correctly with a chainsaw
There are many ways to remove a stump. Before dwelling on one of them, one should evaluate the complexity of the process, which depends on:
- tree species - for example, pine stumps are relatively easy to remove, because the roots of this tree do not grow deep into the ground;
- age - stumps from young trees are more difficult to extract and vice versa - old ones, as a rule, do not cause difficulties;
- size - the destruction of a small stump is easier than a large one.
Also consider the number of stumps. You can try to remove one manually, but when their number exceeds a dozen, it may be worth saving your strength and resorting to special means.
The variety of stump removal methods can be divided into two categories: physical and chemical. In this article, we will touch on both and consider the 3 most popular techniques.
Uprooting is the removal of a tree stump from the ground in its entirety together with the roots. It is considered one of the most common methods among gardeners. The procedure can be done manually or mechanically.
A rather laborious process consisting of many stages. Despite the fact that heavy equipment is not required for its implementation, it is worth enlisting many auxiliary tools. The process takes place in 3 stages:
- The first stage consists in digging out the butt and the root system. With the help of a shovel, crowbar or pick, a volume of earth is removed around the stump, sufficient to remove it. Roots must be exposed. Performing this operation alone may take a long time.
- The second stage is the cutting of the roots, carried out with the help of an ax at the maximum possible distance from the butt. In the process, the roots vibrate, which can cause the actual impact force of the ax to be significantly less than expected. Then you can resort to cutting them with a chainsaw or a hacksaw.
- At the last stage, the stump is pulled out by means of a crowbar, jack, winch, hoist or tractor. Do not forget about the stumps of the roots, which are obtained separately.
It is worth considering that if the tree is large enough (from 30 cm in diameter) and heavy, it is impossible to carry it out on your own. For loading and removal, you will have to use a tractor or a manipulator. Also, the stump can be burned, but this action will take a lot of time, up to several years for complete destruction.
This method requires much less effort and time. To do this, you will need an excavator, attachments or some kind of chopper. This method of dealing with stumps will be more effective not only in comparison with independent uprooting, but even with the work of a team digging stumps by hand.
However, mechanized uprooting is more expensive than manual uprooting. Not every household has the necessary equipment, therefore, first of all, it will have to invest in it. In the case of renting, you should make sure that the type of equipment you have chosen is suitable for the area where the work will be carried out. For example, the use of a wheeled excavator or caterpillar equipment is excluded in areas with a garden or landscaping due to the enormous weight of the tools that is unbearable for the ground.
Chemical destruction involves the treatment of the stump with substances such as sodium or potassium nitrate, urea, table salt, copper or iron sulphate, herbicides. Each of the listed chemicals has both advantages and disadvantages, and, as a rule, the latter are more numerous. You should not expect benefits from such aggressive substances for the soil. But this method is effective, although it takes a lot of time. The work is carried out in 5 stages:
- The first stage involves active work with a drill. Holes must be drilled at the place of the log house and on the sides of the stump. Their number and depth depend on the size of the tree.
- In the next step, an arbitrary amount of the selected chemical is poured into the resulting holes. Moisten holes with water. In case the water has dissolved the chemical, more can be added.
- After that, the openings are clogged with wooden plugs or the stump is completely covered with cellophane film, fixed with a stapler or tape. This is necessary to create the greenhouse effect and the correct implementation of the chemical process.
- The fourth stage requires only moral strength and time. Depending on the age and condition of the stump, the quality of the selected chemical, the procedure can take from a couple of months to several years. Often this stump removal is done in the fall, leaving the tree with chemicals until spring.