How to hollow out tree stump for planter

How to Hollow Out a Tree Stump

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Last updated: August 16, 2022

For many home gardeners, a tree stump can be a bit of an eyesore, and the urge to remove it can be hard to resist.

But preserving a tree stump and repurposing it into something decorative is worth trying. If you do have an old stump in your yard, one thing you can do is hollow it out and turn it into a decoration piece.

In this article, I am going to explain how hollowing out tree stumps can be a great alternative to costly and complex removal. I will also share three ways to hollow out a tree stump and what you can do with it to transform your outdoor space.

Why Create a Hollow Tree Stump?

Removing a tree stump can be a time-consuming and often expensive process, whether you do it yourself or let the professionals do it. Choosing to hollow it out instead can save you time, money, and frustration, and will leave you with an extra decoration item.

Fully removing tree stumps can also disturb the soil in your yard, making it more difficult for other plants to take root. If you live in an area with heavy rainfall, it can also increase soil runoff.

In some cases, completely removing a tree stump may affect nutrient levels in the surrounding soil. The root system may be home to beneficial insects and bacteria that can no longer survive once you remove it.

Because of the risks (and costs) associated with the removal process, it might be safer and more beneficial for you and your yard to keep an old stump in place and put it to good use.

Backyard Decoration

Perhaps the biggest reason one might choose to hollow out a tree stump instead of removing it is to repurpose it as a decoration item.

There are plenty of ways that you can turn a hollowed-out stump into a natural-looking decorative object or even something more functional.

Here are some ideas:

  • Fill the interior with compost or potting soil to create a unique planter for your garden.
  • Create a “gnome home” or fairy cottage by adding tiny accents such as doors, windows, and flowers.
  • Use the stump as a pedestal and add a bowl or basin, filling with water to create a backyard bird bath.
  • Add a flat surface made of wood, glass, or metal to create an outdoor table.
  • Cover or fill the hole and top with a cushion to make a comfortable, all-natural stool.
  • Fill the hole and paint the top of the stump to create a ready-to-use outdoor board game such as chess.

The planter idea is perhaps the most suitable purpose for a hollowed-out tree stump. It works incredibly well, it looks fantastic, and it really lifts the overall backyard experience.

No matter how you decide to reinvent your stump, it’s bound to make a notable addition to your backyard setup.

Tree stump decor works particularly well with rustic, natural outdoor decor schemes, though you can incorporate them into just about any design style.

Check out my list with ideas to repurpose old tree stumps for even more great options for turning that garden stump into something useful or magical.

3 Ways to Hollow Out a Tree Stump

There are a few different ways to effectively hollow out a tree stump, depending on the size of the tree stump you’re dealing with, your level of experience, and your personal preferences:

  1. Using a chainsaw
  2. Doing it manually
  3. Using fire

Let’s discuss these three methods in more detail.

1. Using a Chainsaw

Using a chainsaw is a quick and easy way to hollow out a tree stump, but it’s important to remember to take proper safety precautions.

Each year, thousands of people in the US end up with chainsaw-related injuries. However, as long as you follow basic safety rules, a chainsaw is an effective way to hollow out a tree stump.

Here are the steps:

  1. Wait until the stump is completely dry, ideally after several days or weeks with no rain.
  2. Carve out the central area that you want to remove. Use a chisel to remove the top layer.
  3. Use your saw to separate the wood down closer to the base. You may need to carve outwards from the center in a star pattern to create easily removable wood chunks.
  4. Use your chisel to remove wood pieces, then smooth over rough edges.

If you’re repurposing your stump into something like a planter, you may want to add a drainage duct to your stump to prevent overwatering and rotting.

You can also add a chunk of charcoal to the base of your stump to absorb smells and promote better air filtration, reducing the risk of mold and pests.

2. Doing It Manually

You can also hollow out a tree stump with manual labor and some tools. Using a drill, hammer, and chisel is one of the most common ways homeowners choose to accomplish this.

Most people already have the tools they need waiting in the garage, making it an economical option. Chiseling can be more time-consuming and labor-intensive, but it also tends to be safer, especially for the inexperienced.

Here are the steps:

  1. First, allow the wood to soften to make it easier to chisel. You can either soak it in water or wait until after heavy rainfall.
  2. Drill a series of holes around the stump, spacing them through the section you wish to hollow out and remove.
  3. Using a chisel and a hammer, chip between the drilled holes and remove wood piece by piece. Make sure to keep the chisel at a 45-degree angle for best results.
  4. Once you’ve removed the bulk of the wood, use your chisel to smooth and clean jagged edges. Make sure to wipe away or vacuum up excess sawdust.

With the hammer and chisel method, you’ll find yourself with a pile of scrap wood at the end of your project.

You can recycle this, compost it, or even use it as free mulch in other areas of your garden. If you have enough leftover material, you may even be able to sell it.

3. Using Fire

Using fire is one of the fastest and cheapest ways to remove or hollow out a stump. However, you need to be careful not to leave chemical residue from any chemical accelerants that you use.

If you live in a dry area, you also need to take steps to make sure the fire doesn’t spread. But overall, using fire is an effective way to hollow out tree stumps.

Here are the steps:

  1. Remove dry items from the area surrounding the stump, including sticks, leaves, backyard decor made of wood, or other flammable materials.
  2. Drill a large hole into the center of the stump, working at a 30-degree angle. The hole should be deep enough to reach the roots of the stump. You should also drill more shallow holes on the top of the stump to promote oxygen circulation.
  3. Fill each hole with an accelerant such as potassium nitrate or kerosene.
  4. Pile dry scrap wood over the stump and light it. Wait until the fire has mostly burned out and the interior of the stump is gone to douse it.

When working with fire, always keep water on hand in case of emergencies. You should also make sure to thoroughly clean your hands after handling chemical accelerants such as potassium nitrate.

If any seeps into the ground, you may have to extract it from the soil. You can dissolve unused potassium nitrate from inside your stump using hot water.

Final Thoughts

If you have an old tree stump sitting in your yard, you don’t necessarily have to rip it out of the ground. Knowing how to hollow out a tree stump gives you endless possibilities when it comes to transforming your garden.

No matter which method you use, it’s often a cheaper and easier choice than complete removal. What’s more, you can easily repurpose that stump and turn it into a unique focal point in your yard.

If you do wish to remove a stump, one way to achieve that is by burning. Read my guide on burning tree stumps for a step-by-step process.



Three Easy Ways You Should Know About

You can hollow out a tree stump using either a chainsaw, fire or hand instruments. All of these methods are easy to follow, but some might be more time-consuming than others.

Our article will explore them all so you can choose which one you want to use for yourself! Carry on reading to find a thorough step-by-step guide on carrying out this home DIY project.


  • How To Hollow Out a Tree Stump
    • – With a Chainsaw
    • – Smooth the Edges
    • – Stump With Fire
    • – Using Your Hands
  • Tools 
    • – Power Drill
    • – Chainsaw
    • – Hammer and Chisel
    • – Wood Carving Gouge
  • Conclusion 

How To Hollow Out a Tree Stump

There are a lot of ways to hollow out a tree stump as your lawn DIY project. However, our goal is to tell you the quickest and the easiest ones so that you can save some time and be done with the whole task easily.

Read below to find out our top methods.

– With a Chainsaw

Using a chainsaw is one of the easiest methods used to carve a tree stump. You need to be aware of how to wield and use a chainsaw properly, though.

– Ensure That the Tree Stump Is Dry

Make sure the tree stump you are going to be hollowing out has dried thoroughly, at least from the middle. Hence the ideal time to make a hole in a tree stump is several days after a rain spell or watering.

– Start Carving the Stump

Next, start carving the middle portion of the stump using the chainsaw. You can use a chisel to carve out the portions of the wood near the edges. This is because a chisel provides you with better control so you don’t end up damaging the outer boundary of the stump.

– Take Out the Carved Pieces

Now, what you need to do is to remove the carved out pieces out of the tree stump. 

– Smooth the Edges

As the last step, take the chisel to smooth out the edges of the tree stump. 

– Safety Precaution
  • Always wear safety goggles when doing woodwork. You don’t want stray splinters getting in your eyes!
  • We also suggest you learn how to use the instruments that you will be using like the chainsaw and the chisel etc. These instruments, in the hands of an inexperienced beginner, have the potential to cause significant damage.

– Stump With Fire

One quick way to hollow out a stump is by using fire. Learn how to do this by reading below.

– Bore Holes in the Stump

You need to start by boring holes into the tree stump that you want to work on. Use a power drill with a 0.9 inch bit, holding it at an angle of 30 degrees, to dig deep enough into the roots. 

As a general rule of thumb, your drill hole should be at least eight to 10 inches deep and the distance between individual holes should be at about one to two inches minimum.

– Fill the Holes With Flammable Material

Your next step is to fill these holes with a material that would burn instantly. We usually use potassium nitrate. Furthermore, you simply have to stuff it into the hole and then pour hot water from the top so that it dissolves properly.

Some other flammable materials you can use in addition to potassium nitrate are kerosene oil and charcoal.

– Light the Wood on Fire

Now, put some wood scraps or pieces of cardboard on top of the stump and light a fire using matchsticks or lighters. Don’t use gas to produce fire as it has the potential to get out of control pretty fast. 

– Clear Out the Stump

Pour water or sand after the fire dies out to prevent any accidental reignition. Then scoop out the burnt charred wood using a small shovel or any other tool. You now have a hollowed out tree stump ready for renewal.

– Safety Precautions

Remove all flammable things from the vicinity of the stump in question. Since you are going to be using fire, accidental ignition of the surroundings is always a risk. Thus, you should remove all trash, fallen leaves and wood chips from around the stump.

Also, wear protective gloves when handling potassium nitrate. If you are using your bare hands, then make sure to wash them thoroughly after using potassium nitrate as it is a highly flammable material and might cause your hands to catch fire.

What’s more, don’t stand too close to the fire as particulate matter can get in your eyes or lungs and cause injury. Lastly, always keep a bucket of water, a water hose or a fire extinguisher nearby in case of any unforeseen event.

– Using Your Hands

One other way you can hollow out a tree trunk is by doing it with hand instruments. Beware though, this can be a bit time-consuming.

Learn how to manually remove the insides of a tree stump below.

– Soften the Wood

When manually scooping out a wood stump, your job will be made so much easier if the wood in question is soft. Undertake this task either after several days of rainfall or soak the stump in water for a couple of days beforehand.

– Drill Holes in the Stump

Using an electric drill, drill several holes many inches deep in the center of the stump. 

– Carve the Wood Out by Hand

Now take a chisel and a hammer to remove the pieces of wood left in between, using these drilled holes as the fulcrum point. The chisel works best when it is kept at an angle of 45 degrees to the flat surface of the stump.

– Smooth the Edges of the Stump

Taking the very same chisel, smooth out the edges so that they don’t harm anyone inadvertently.



Hollowing out tree stumps is no simple task. It requires planning, time and energy. However, using the right instruments can make your task so much easier. We have listed for you some essential instruments that you must have at your disposal in this case.

Read on to find out what they are.

– Power Drill

A power drill is one of the most useful instruments you can have at your disposal. It can be used to drill holes of any diameter or depth into woods of all types.

You simply need an electric power supply for this machine to work. Or you can simply drag a power extension cable in your yard to make this thing work.

– Chainsaw

A chainsaw will make your work ten times easier. It is one of the best tools for hollowing out a tree stump out there that cuts wood in a matter of seconds. There are so many different types of chainsaws in the market for you to choose from.

Our advice is to buy a chainsaw that feels good in your hands. A chainsaw that is too bulky or large will only be a hassle to handle. Chainsaw related injuries are also pretty common, especially among beginners so be very careful when handling this instrument.

– Hammer and Chisel

Hammer and chisel is a set of very useful hand instruments when it comes to hollowing out tree stumps. They always come as a set.

You set the chisel at an angle of 45 degrees with its tip at one edge of the wood splinter that you want to dislodge, and use the hammer to wedge this piece off.

Take care to protect your hands and eyes when using the chisel and hammer. Wear thick gloves and eye goggles because lots of splinters sure will fly in all directions.

– Wood Carving Gouge

A wood carving gouge is a type of chisel with a rounded tip instead of a pointed one. It is used for carving out pieces of wood in a rounded scoop.

Trust us when we say that this instrument will be a game-changer for your stump hollowing operation.


Today you learned three ways to scoopout the wood from cut tree stumps. Let us go over them briefly one more time:

  • The first method to hollow out a tree stump is to use a chainsaw. Allow the wood to dry for several days
  • Then take a chainsaw and cut pieces of wood from the top off. Use a chisel and hammer to strip these pieces off
  • The second method to carve out a tree stump is to use fire. For this method, you will need to drill holes into the wood using an electric power drill. These holes should be at least eight to 10 inches deep
  • Then fill these holes with potassium nitrate. You can also add charcoal and kerosene to this. Now light a fire to these holes
  • The fire will burn the insides of your stump. Scoop out the burnt wood and you will get the hollowed-out interior that you wanted
  • You can also use hand instruments to carve out a hole in the stump. Use a chisel and hammer to carve pieces of the wood away from the center
  • You can also use an instrument called a wood gouge that has a rounded tip that literally scoops out the wood in round pieces

So what are you waiting for? Go get that tree stump that has been sitting in your yard for a while now and hollow it out!

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DIY stump flowerbed

Good afternoon, dear friends!

Probably you have already met flower beds from a stump, well, at least in the photo, or maybe in reality? I think this is a great idea how to decorate a stump in the garden. Very original, besides not taking up much space, a flower garden is obtained.

And stumps from old trees, for some reason cut down or simply dried up, can probably be found in every dacha or in the garden.

How to make a flower bed out of a stump, I'll tell you now.

Stump flower beds or a beautiful stump for every day

A bit of background.

On my plot near the house grew a huge sprawling apricot tree, or rather, kulgi, as they call it here.

Kulga is a wild-growing apricot, its fruits are only slightly smaller in size than cultivated ones, but they are even sweeter than the latter.

After moving to my new place of residence, at first I was surprised by how many apricots grow here. You go out into the street, and apricots literally fall on your head from the sky! Fall and fall! Just some kind of paradise!

Before, I only saw apricots in the market and rarely ate them.

One year we had so many apricots in Stavropol that I had to throw them out in buckets. It was so pitiful! But I just didn’t have time to process it, and I cooked jam, and compotes, and juices, and dried a lot. But still a lot of apricots spoiled quickly.

This year we again have a harvest for apricots, and this does not happen often. So I remembered this story, a little sadly, because my favorite tree died a long time ago, probably dried up from old age and spontaneously broke, leaving behind a large stump.

In this stump I made a mini flower bed for a couple of years, planted petunias and purslane in it. It was very beautiful. But now this stump is already rotten.

But, back to the essence of our topic, how to decorate a stump in the garden and make a flower bed from a stump with your own hands.

In general, of course, a flower bed is an understatement. A mini-flower bed can only be obtained from a large wide stump. And from medium-sized stumps, a kind of natural flowerpot is more likely to turn out.

So, if there are stumps in your garden and you are in no hurry to uproot them, you can decorate them.

Depending on the size: diameter and height, type of stump, it can be turned into a fungus, for example, by putting on a hat from an old bowl or bucket.

There are some talents who carve various fabulous figures out of tree stumps and trunks. Here I have some examples.

You can stuff small stands on the stump, on which you can place flowers in a flower pot or just put them on top of the stump.

The easiest way to hide the stump from view: sprinkle it with earth, make small slopes, decorate around with stones, plant different plants. Something like a fashionable slide will turn out.

Or you can take an old tire, throw it on a stump, and cover it with something on top. Get a good chair. You can throw earth on the tire and plant flowers on top - that's a good flower bed.

Depending on the location of the stump and your desires, you can decorate and adapt the old stump in different ways, including making a small flower garden inside the stump.

How to make a flower bed from a stump with your own hands

By the way, even if you don't have old stumps in your garden, you can get them in the forest. Some people do just that, because a stump flower bed is a very interesting modern solution in summer cottage design.

It is better if the stump is old, so it is easier to work with it.

It is advisable not to touch the stump from a freshly sawn tree for some time until it dries well.

A stump flower bed can be made in two ways: insert a planter with flowers inside or fill the soil into a hole in the stump and plant flowers.

The whole process of creating a flower bed from a stump is clearly visible in the photo.

( I used photos from and ).

But there are some nuances, which I will describe in more detail.

1. From a very old stump, it is enough to simply pick out the dust, as was the case in my case.

If the stump is from a freshly sawn tree, then one cannot do without male hands and locksmith tools.

In the case of making a flower bed from small pieces of logs, you must first cut the bottom edge with a saw to get an even base.

Then measure the desired height and cut off the top.

2 . Make a hole in the stump with a hoe, ax or chainsaw.

First, draw the contours, stepping back from the edge of 5 centimeters or more, it does not matter.

With a chainsaw, begin to cut through the wood, then remove the chips and break up large sections with a hammer.

Working with a saw again. And so on until a hole of the desired depth is obtained. Usually it is from 10 to 20 cm, depending on what we plant.

Using the same chainsaw, you can drill a hole in the bottom of the stump for drainage.

If you are going to insert flower pots into the hole, they must match in size.

3. Then you should treat the inner walls of the stump with an antiseptic or paint it so that the stump lasts longer, does not rot quickly, and the flower bed from the stump pleases us with its beauty.

I missed this stage at one time, and therefore I lost the original flower bed. Although, of course, it still depends on the age of the tree and its condition.

4. Making drainage. If the plants are planted directly in the stump, drainage must be done so that moisture does not stagnate in the stump.

Expanded clay, gravel are suitable for this purpose, you can take a piece of foam plastic from the packaging of some kind of household appliances, or even simpler a polystyrene bath - the very one in which various products are now packaged.

5. Fill the soil. It is better to mix two parts of the earth and a part of the compost, or take the purchased soil, mix it with the soil from the garden and add sand, I usually do this.

6 . Planting plants.

What flowers can be planted in a stump bed? Yes, in principle, any flowers with a small root system will do: petunias, begonias, geraniums, purslane, flax, sour, marigolds, pansies, primroses, as well as daffodils and tulips.

If the flower bed is large, then it is better to plant upright plants in the middle, and ampelous ones along the edges.

The only thing left to do is to water the flowers and admire the flower bed made from a stump, made by one's own hands.

Here in this video are more examples of photos of beautiful unusual stump flower beds.

Have a good mood and sunny days!

Best regards, Olga Smirnova.

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How to make a stump flower bed - tips and tricks

You can break a flower bed in an old stump in just five steps. All you need is a set of tools, some soil and the seeds of the flowers you want to plant. Want to know more? Read the article instead!

Stumps remain in the garden after cutting down old trees. In most cases, plot owners either uproot them or otherwise try to "embed" them into the garden design and use them as furniture, flower stands, decorative elements, etc. But you can also make something original out of them, for example, arrange a flower bed right in the core of the stump.

1. Inspecting the stump

First of all, you should find out what condition the potential "flower bed" is in. If you cut down a tree because it began to rot due to the dominance of pests, giving it a second life will not be easy. Some bark beetles and other beetles could settle at the base - such a stump will not last long and become a source of problems for the entire garden. If the tree was healthy, and it was necessary to cut it down for another reason, then the stump may well become the basis for a flower bed.

2. Determine the dimensions of the future flower bed

The easiest and most common way is to step back from the edge of the stump 5-7 cm and draw an even circle. These will be the boundaries of your impromptu "pot".

3. Making a hole in the stump

There are several ways to make a hole of the desired size and depth:

  • if you have a gas or electric saw, make cuts, and then use a chisel to cut out pieces of wood;
  • you can build a fire and burn a small hole;
  • drill a hole in the center of the stump and fill it with Epsom salt or saltpeter and wait a few weeks. During this time, the "chemicals" will make a recess in the trunk, the wood will collapse, and you can form the edges of the funnel;
  • use a hoe, cut a hole in the center with the sharp end, and then deepen and widen it with the wide end.

The hole should be about 10-20 cm deep, depending on the diameter of the stump and the number of plants you plan to plant in it.

4. Prepare drainage

In order to prevent water from standing in the stump and the plants from rotting, it is necessary to make a drainage system. Take a 1.5 cm drill bit and make several holes at a 45 degree angle towards the ground. At the bottom of the "flower bed" pour drainage from crushed stone and small stones.

5. Fill the stump with earth and plant the plants

Fill the drainage layer with fertile soil (or a mixture of 1 part compost and 2 parts soil) and plant the flowers. Take care of them like normal plants and marvel at the unusual conditions in which they grow. Look at the beauty of those who used the stump as a flower bed:

Things to remember when creating a stump flower bed

When creating a natural flower bed, you can experiment and improve the standard methods of creating it:

  • center - this will simplify the work of gouging the core;
  • if you plan to burn out the center of the stump, use kerosene - it will saturate the wood, and it will burn better;
  • almost any flowers can be planted in a stump, but marigolds, forget-me-nots, primroses, pansies, daffodils, petunias, purslane, tulips, geraniums and begonias will look better in it;
  • , you can additionally strengthen the stump by installing plastic pots in the recess of the trunk. And then pour soil into the container and plant plants in them.

Do not rush to uproot the old stump - perhaps it can still become an excellent eco-style flower bed.

Learn more