How to preserve a tree stump

How To Preserve a Tree Stump You Want to Keep

If you find yourself with a dead, dying, or removed tree, but it still has a viable base, here’s how to preserve a tree stump. There are a couple of ways to go about this, depending on your end goal. If the stump is left in the front or backyard, it might attract pests who perceive it as a nice, comfy future home. This is a scenario that you want to avoid, as the down-the-line consequences could wreak havoc on other parts of your yard, garden, or property.

At Mr. Tree, our expert arborists and staff really care about trees. If you find yourself with questions about the viability of a tree on your property, we’re happy to investigate and see whether you are able to save it. If not, we also offer services to remove it: we offer stump grinding services.

What Can I Do with the Stump?

Depending on the size, you can preserve it where it is or remove it and preserve it to use as additional outdoor seating, an outdoor table, or even a planter. If it’s a thinner piece of wood, then perhaps you’ve just found your next coffee table or hanging piece. The wood needs to be sanded and finished with a wood stabilizer (see below for the how-to specifics). It’s a process that can add a new tasteful art piece to your home, add a new planter to the garden, or even serve as a natural, recycled furniture piece.

How To Select the Right Stump

When you have a tree stump that’s still in good condition, you have the option to preserve the stump through a few-step process and repurpose the stump in or around your home. In selecting a stump (from a tree that was already removed from the ground), you’ll need to find a good wood, as not all are created equal when it comes to the preservation project.

The best wood is durable and isn’t going to decay or break apart easily. A few examples of good woods include redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), oak (Quercus spp.), or western red cedar (Thuja plicata). The redwood grows in hardiness zones 7 through 9, the oak in zones 3 through 9, and the western red cedar in zones 6, up through 10. You’re bound to find an available stump. In addition to being more durable, they are also easier to work with.

For Trees with Roots Still in the Ground

For trees that fit the wood type requirement but are coming out soon, things are a little different. First, you’ll want to fully remove the tree and saw off the portion you want to use. The wood will need to be fully dried before you start the sanding and treatment process. Drying it outside for at least six months is about the time you’ll need, depending on the thickness of the selected piece. With the climate in the Pacific Northwest, it’s probable that there will be moisture and rain, so dry it in a dry spot, like a garage or a shed.

Why a Preservation Method is Necessary

Treatment of the stump is important for a couple of reasons. Without the preservation process, the wood is still exposed and available to termites or other small pests that might migrate into your yard or try to infiltrate your home. Heat and moisture are two main reasons that mold could grow on the stump or pests could be drawn to the location.

How to Preserve a Tree Stump

After the stump is thoroughly dry, you can prepare the wood by removing the bark. First, wipe the top and bottom of the stump with a cloth to clear off any debris like dust or dirt, and then, with a hammer and chisel or crowbar, you can begin stripping the bark. You can opt to keep the bark around the wood, as it provides a more rustic aesthetic, but if there’s a black ring or anything that looks diseased, it should come off.

Preparing the Stump

After the bark has been removed, start sanding the large faces of the stump. Thereafter, you can sand the sides of the stump, where the bark used to be. An 80-grit sandpaper is recommended for taking off the top layer of wood. You may also opt to use an electric sander if the wood is particularly gritty, rough, or misshapen. This will need to be done in a circular motion until the surface is smooth to the touch.

Filling Cracks and Tending Imperfections

At this point, you’ll want to wipe down all the sawdust from the wood’s surface, and if you want, you can add some wood stain to boost the color. Let it dry and then move on to the next step. Fill in any nooks, nicks, or cracks that would otherwise be exposed. This can be done with clear epoxy. Be sure to tape around any place where the epoxy could leak out. It will need to dry overnight.

Faces and Bark

If you skip any sort of stain and there are no cracks to fill, you can go ahead and start applying the first layer of wood stabilizer, about half a cup. Start little by little, going in circles, covering the entire surface with a layer. Cover in plastic for two to four hours and then apply a second layer. Repeat the drying process for each layer.

For the bark, you can apply a sealant spray if you’ve opted to keep it on. Let it dry overnight.

Otherwise, you’ll have covered the whole surface with at least two layers of wood stabilizer. After it’s dry, you can add legs if you’re making it into a table, a few hooks if you’re hanging it, or move it over to its new stump-planter-box location.

If you can’t bear to uproot a special tree, know that there are other ways to preserve a stump, including transforming it into a container garden.

How to Preserve a Tree Stump (In and Out of the Ground)


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Tree removal is one of several major changes you can make to your landscaping, and it doesn’t always leave no trace behind.

Aside from a mess of broken branches and leaves, tree removal usually leaves behind tree stumps, which can have roots running deep into the ground, making it tricky to excavate. In some cases, you’ll need to get rid of the tree stump, but in others, you’ll have the option to leave it where it is.

If you’ve found yourself in a situation similar to the latter of those, you may want to consider preserving your tree stump, and in this guide, we’re going to explain to you how.

Why Preserve a Tree Stump?

You can preserve a tree stump for any number of reasons, but you don’t really need a reason at all. In the world of landscaping and design, creativity can be the reason.

You can use the preserved tree stump by incorporating it into the landscape. Sometimes, a simple tree stump works better than any piece of garden sculpture you can find. Nature just looks better sometimes.

You could also take advantage of your tree stump by hollowing it out and using it as a planter for other flowers or vegetation. This would make for a really nice and nature-centered landscape design.

You could easily use a preserved tree stump as a decorative pedestal, elevating any decorative piece you want, or if you have a large enough tree stump, you could level and cut it in a way to be used as an outdoor, nature-provided coffee table.

Trees grow and live for decades, so there’s likely years of memories associated with any single tree if you’ve lived there for long enough. So if you love your tree stump but don’t want to leave it in the ground, you can also preserve it after digging it up.

Digging it up actually makes the preservation process easier, but we’ll get into that a little more in depth later on.

Once you have your tree stump removed and preserved, you can use it as any number of decorative items, from a side table to a unique seat for your coffee table or book stand for your reading room.

Why Is Preservation Necessary?

While preserving the tree stump before turning it into a decorative piece isn’t entirely necessary, it is strongly recommended.

Without preserving the wood, a tree stump is vulnerable to moisture, rot, pests, and more. A tree stump left in the ground near your home can attract termites, which can make their way to your house, causing irreparable damage in some cases.

Untreated tree stumps carry moisture, and are susceptible to rot and can carry disease as well, so preservation is a necessary step in ensuring that your tree stump remains intact, sealed, guarded from the elements, and pest-free.

How Long Will a Tree Stump Last?

If left in the ground untreated, a tree stump will last anywhere from two to ten years before completely decomposing into what looks like a pile of sawdust.

Preserving a tree stump can greatly increase that timeframe.

How to Preserve When Left in the Ground

Leaving a tree stump in the ground means that eventually, it will rot and fall apart no matter how well you preserve it. The best way to preserve a tree stump is to dig it up and go from there, but you may not have the option; in which case, follow this guide.

To preserve a tree stump left in the ground, you’re going to need something to clean the surface, sandpaper or a sanding machine, and some type of wood sealant.

Clean the surface of the stump with a damp cloth, and be sure to remove any excess dirt, loose sawdust, or bark so that you’re left with a completely smooth surface to seal later on.

At this stage, you should consider whether or not you want to leave or remove the bark from the tree stump. If the bark appears dry, rotten, or loose, it’s probably a good idea to remove it. Even if you seal over it, rot underneath the sealant will continue to decay the stump long after it’s been sealed off.

If you decide to remove the bark from the tree stump, you’re going to need a flat-head screwdriver or wedge of some kind, and a hammer. Starting from the top, drive a wedge between the bark and the surface of the wood in a downward direction until the bark separates from the stump. Continue this process until all the bark has been removed.

After you’ve removed the bark, repeat the same cleaning process as before, except on the newly exposed wood.

Make sure that you sand the remaining tree stump, starting with rough-grain sandpaper, and working your way down to a smooth finishing paper. Using a power sander will make this step much faster, but it’s not necessary if you’ve got the time and patience to sand by hand.

Once you’ve sanded the entire tree stump and are left with a nice, smooth finished product, it’s time to fill in the cracks.

For this step, you should use a simple wood-filler such as clear epoxy. If there are cracks in the surface of your tree stump, pouring epoxy will fill it in as far down as gravity will allow. This means that if there’s a cavity left behind somewhere in the stump, you won’t have to worry about it continuing to rot as the epoxy will help to seal it off from the elements.

How to Preserve When Removed From the Ground

Removing your tree stump from the ground is the preferred method of preservation, as it allows you to see everything inside. Being able to see what’s inside allows you to make informed decisions about cleaning and treating the wood so that it lasts.

Pulling the tree stump from the ground is actually a challenge in itself, so don’t be ashamed if you have trouble. Depending on the size of the tree, you may need a larger shovel, a chainsaw, or even a full-blown excavator just to get the stump out. But once it’s out, it’s off to the races, so cut off the section you want to use, and proceed to the first step.

The first step in preserving your tree stump is to dry it out. If your tree stump is still retaining any moisture, it won’t preserve well. Moisture allows for bacteria, fungus, and rot to thrive, which is the opposite of what you’re going for, so dry it out.

Make sure that you leave it to dry for about six months. During that period, if you expect inclement weather or rain of any kind, it’s a good idea to leave it to dry out in your garage, so long as it’s not infested with insects. It’s imperative that you keep your tree stump dry during this period.

Once your tree stump has dried, you can now prepare it for preservation.

Begin by removing the bark. You can opt to leave the bark intact, as it has a much more pleasing appearance than bare wood, but if there’s any sign of rot between the bark and wood, you should remove it. Diseased woods aren’t exactly good for keeping guests.

You can use a hammer and chisel to remove the bark, or a rotary hammer to save time and energy.

Once the bark has been removed, you’re ready to clean up and sand the surface of the wood. Before you do anything with sandpaper, make sure that you wipe off dust, dirt, and any other excess materials with a damp, lint-free cloth.

When you’ve finished cleaning the surface of the wood, you can begin to sand and smooth it out. Begin with a rough, 80-grain sandpaper, working your way around the surface of the entire tree stump. From there, increase the grain count until you’ve reached a desirable smoothness on the surface of the wood. Again, a power sander would make this process go much faster, but will be difficult to get into the nooks and crannies.

Once you’ve sanded and cleaned off all the excess sawdust, you’re ready to apply a wood sealant. Wood sealant (such as clear epoxy) is used to fill in the cracks left behind during the drying out process.

A wood sealant is necessary to prevent rot from spreading throughout the inside, and it also helps to improve the structural integrity of the wood stump, which is great if you plan on using yours as a table or chair.

Once you’ve filled in the cracks with sealant, the final step in preserving a tree stump is by applying a wood stabilizer. To do this, simply apply a coat to the entire surface of the stump, allow it to dry (following the directions on the packaging), and then apply a second coat. Once the second coat is dry, the preservation process is complete!

If you’re keeping the bark on, you can preserve it by adding a coat or two of spray-on epoxy.

Otherwise, your newly preserved tree stump is ready to go!


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what can be done from a stump in the country?

There comes a time when a tree that has been fruitful for many years or simply delighted you with its spreading crown has to be cut down. As a result, an unsympathetic stump is formed in its place, with which something needs to be done. You can, of course, uproot it, but often such work requires serious physical effort. After all, the root system of the old tree remains branched and very strong. If you also don’t want to dig a pit to extract the root, all that remains is to figure out how to decorate a stump in the garden with your own hands.


  • 1 Idea #1 - “stump on a spring day”

  • 2 Idea #2 - stump as garden furniture

    • 2.1 Option #1 - stump as chair

    • 2.2 Option #2 - original table

  • 3 Idea #3 - funny compositions

    • 3.1 Option #1 - unusual sculpture

    • 3.2 Option #2 - ornamental fly agaric

    • 3.3 Option #3 - fabulous house

  • 4 Idea #4 - decorate the stump with flowers in pots

  • 5 Idea #5 - garden sculptures

  • 6 Idea #6 - “Green Monster”

Of course, the old stump will not bloom by itself, but this does not mean that flowers cannot grow on it. This will really happen if you plant low annual flowers, herbaceous or even ornamental plants on a stump. Their presence will greatly ennoble and enliven the saw cut of the tree.

All these modest flowers look very impressive in a single bouquet, which, like a vase, holds the simplest stump

To bring this idea to life, you need a minimum of costs. We level the surface of the stump, after which we make recesses in the stump. They should be such that the root system of the plant you have chosen can develop freely. A reference point can happen, for example, a flower pot.

You can simply make one indentation in the stump if you remove the core from it. This is easy to do when we are dealing with rotten stump. From the tools we will need a saw or a chisel with a hammer. If the stump appeared on your site relatively recently, it is better to use the core burning method.

Surely such a stump will become a real decoration of your garden at the very beginning of the last spring month and on the eve of summer

Drill a hole deep enough in the center of the stump to allow kerosene to be poured into it. In this case, the side surface should not be less than 7 cm, so that after removing the core, our structure remains intact. Fill with kerosene and plug the hole in the stump with a cork.

After about half a day, add kerosene and cork the hole again tightly. Leave the stump alone for one to two weeks. Then remove the cork and set fire to the core of the stump. When it burns out, the resulting flowerpot should be treated with an antiseptic so that the flower bed lasts longer.

Drill holes inside the recess to prevent standing water. Now we put garden soil mixed with nutrients inside, after which we plant seedlings or bulbs. When a lush hat of flowers forms on a stump, it will not look old and unsightly at all.

If you are not sure about the strength of the walls of your new tree stump and are afraid that they may start to crumble, they can be reinforced with mesh

You can see the most diverse options for what you can do with your own hands from a stump in the country in this video:

To make something interesting out of an old stump, such as a piece of furniture, you need a good tool and some skills for such work. But tools today are not a problem. And as for skills, we can say this: all great masters were once apprentices. So let's at least try. What are you ultimately risking? Only an old stump.

Option #1 - stump as chair

Let's say you just marked a tree for cutting. It would be nice if he had a thick trunk. We remove the branches, moving from the thin upper ones to the stronger lower ones. Now that you have the trunk in front of you, you need to mark it.

If we want to make a chair, it is more convenient to place the seat at a height of 40-60 cm from the ground. Let's say it will be 50 cm. We put a mark with chalk at this height. But the chair still has a back. We add another 50 cm to it. At a height of 100 cm, we will also put a mark with chalk. At this mark, a cut will pass, which is best done with a chainsaw.

You can learn how to properly cut down a tree with a chainsaw from the material:

It is difficult to say how much the chair shown in this photo is of natural origin, but it is it that well illustrates the result of the work described in this section

Now we will form the back of the chair. To do this, we need to make a horizontal cut at the level of the seat. That is where our first chalk mark is located. We make a cut to a depth of 2/3 of the trunk. We saw through from the side in which the chair will be turned in the future.

To form the back, make a vertical cut from above until we reach the previous, horizontal one. The piece of the trunk cut in this way is removed.

The base is created, you can start decorating. For this work, we will need different devices from a grinder to a chisel. It all depends on how exactly you decide to decorate the resulting chair. In any case, it will no longer be a stump sticking out in front of everyone, but a comfortable chair, sitting on the seat of which you can have a good rest.

Option #2 - original table

When you were making the chair, you chose not to part with the tree bark. Now we have to make a garden table, the leg of which will be the stump itself. And this time it is better to get rid of the bark. To do this, we can use a chisel or chisel. We will work as carefully as possible: after all, we do not want to damage the wood at all.

This photo clearly shows how exactly you need to nail the holders to which the worktop

will be attached in the future

On the side of the stump we fill two perpendicular wooden planks. We fix on them four holders perpendicularly fastened together in pairs. We make a tabletop from boards, and fasten them together with planks.

The tabletop can be made round. To do this, it is enough to draw a circle, using for this purpose an impromptu compass made of a pencil, rope and a nail. We drive a nail into the center of the tabletop, to which a rope with a pencil at the end is tied. We draw a circle and delete everything that went beyond its borders.

The tabletop, fixed on the leg, which was once a stump, needs to be treated with special protective compounds, and it is better to close such a table for the winter

We nail the finished tabletop to the holders with nails or fasten it with self-tapping screws. The finished product must be impregnated with a protective solution that will prolong its life.

Option #1 - unusual sculpture

Implementing the following idea is not difficult at all. And now the dry frame of your tree is sawn by little men, similar to green grasshoppers. It is easy to make such babies yourself, using wire, pieces of tin or plastic for this purpose. Similar fairy-tale characters can also be purchased at a store selling souvenirs and toys.

The figurines are made very cleverly, and the whole composition leaves an amazing positive impression: the little men must be securely fastened so that they are not damaged by bad weather

These funny figurines can be screwed to the trunk using self-tapping screws, wire or clamps. Such a comic composition will decorate your garden and attract the attention of your friends and neighbors.

Option #2 - decorative fly agaric

If you think that making a fly agaric from a stump is easy, then you are absolutely right. All you need is an old enamel or iron bowl and an aerosol. The bowl needs to be cleaned and painted with red spray paint. After it dries, draw white circles on a red background, exactly like the spots on the fly agaric hat.

Numerous other items can be placed next to the handsome fly agaric, which help to enliven the composition, make it complete

Stump also needs to be painted white. It would be nice to draw a cheerful grinning face on it. But here's how fantasy tells. It remains only to put on an elegant hat on the leg and boldly declare that the fly agaric is ready! By the way, it is not necessary to make a fly agaric. It could also be white fungus. The fly agaric just looks prettier.

To complete the picture, we suggest that you lay out pebbles, for example, green, at the foot of your mushroom. They, like a frame for a picture, will create a border for your work. However, you can do without them.

Stone painting can also be used to make an original decorative element. Read about it:

These porcini mushrooms are also made from stumps, only in a completely different way: both the stem and the cap of the mushroom are carved from the wood of the stump itself and painted in the appropriate colors

Option #3 - fabulous house

If a person is not deprived of imagination, then even from a dry stump he is able to make a whole work of art - a fairy-tale castle or a teremok inhabited by the most amazing fairy-tale characters. Such a craft can become the pride of the owner of the site, if you work on it with a soul.

A cute Japanese-style house is complemented by a small hut, most likely intended for holding a traditional tea ceremony

The stump itself can serve as the main part of the castle, on which all additional decor will be attached. In order not to miss anything, we propose to make a sketch of the future structure and subsequently try to follow it.

Decoration pieces can be sawn from a piece of fiberboard or plywood. They should be attached to the stump with self-tapping screws. All components must be impregnated to protect them from decay. In addition, they can be painted in the desired color.

The material on creating crafts from plywood to decorate the garden may also be useful:

Such a cute house with figurines will be very popular with children, who will undoubtedly immediately adapt it for their fun games

Sometimes in the trunk of a dry tree, quite low from the surface of the earth, hollows, outgrowths are located. All these details, despite their natural origin, are easily used in the composition. For example, small toy ladders with funny gnomes on them can hang from a hollow. And on the growth, you can place a toy piano with a pianist squirrel.

Don't forget to pay attention to the roof of the structure. An old leaky bucket will do just fine for her. By the way, artificial or live plants, knocking out of a hole in the roof of such a structure, will look very attractive.

This video is about a variety of characters made from stumps:

We have already told you how to decorate a tree stump with flowers grown in it, but there is another way to decorate it. If several branches are preserved on the stump, you can hang the same flowers on them, but grown in pots. They can look very impressive.

Even if there are no branches, the pot with a flower can be placed on the stump itself or around it, creating a special aura of flowering and ongoing life. Stumps look great as decorative plant pots when sanded well to allow the wood to show its texture.

Despite the simplicity of this composition, it looks very impressive and accentuated in a rustic way: for country style, it fits perfectly

But at the same time, one should not forget that a tree located in an open area needs protection - in impregnations that will resist decay.

Everyone can create garden figurines from stumps, only real artists end up with wonderful works of art that amaze with their realism. If you are driven by the desire to simply decorate your site, then you can create a simple image that does not require special skills.

Of course, this magnificent deer that sings in the spring forest is skillfully carved from an ordinary stump by a high-level professional

Making a simple stump figurine is not difficult at all. Those who sculpted snowmen in childhood can apply the accumulated experience in this case. The role of the hands will be performed by twigs, instead of the nose and mouth we will attach knots, Eyes can be made from brown bottoms from plastic bottles. The role of the pupil will be played by a cork from the same bottles.

All this is attached to the stump with self-tapping screws. On the horizontal surface of the cut, you can simply lay out pine cones that will imitate hair. Here is such a watchman for the garden, which we made in haste, is ready.

But any schoolboy can make such a funny watchman for a dacha, and it is for this that such a garden sculpture is valued

If it so happened that you had to cut down a whole row of country trees, do not be sad. This situation also has its positive side. But you now have a large number of stumps located close to each other. And this is quite good. Make a fairyland out of them for your kids by putting into practice all the information that you have already received in this article.

It will be just a wonderful place to play. First you have to peel each stump from the bark. To do this, you will need a chisel and a hammer. The chisel must be inserted between the bark and the trunk of the tree, and then gently tap on it with a hammer. The bark will move away from the trunk and soon the stump will completely lose it. Now it can be carefully sanded using medium grit sandpaper for this purpose.

Such an owl could easily become a companion of Baba Yaga herself and settle in her hut, flying out of it from time to time to hunt

Remove any wood dust generated during operation with a damp cloth. The tree prepared in this way should be treated with an antiseptic that will protect it from decay.

Now you can start decorating the stump. Let's choose a large stump to turn it into a real house of Baba Yaga. Let's take the chalk and outline the location of the future windows and doors of the grandmother's hut. Holes in wood for doors and windows can be made using a chisel and hammer.

We will need pieces of boards from which we will make doors and window shutters. These details of the future structure can be painted right now, while they are not yet nailed into place. The doors and shutters should be nailed to the places indicated on the stump with nails whose heads have been bitten off. Finishing the decoration of the hut, you can collect branches and snags of an unusual shape in the area to stick them around the house of Baba Yaga. Let them portray the dense years.

On smaller stumps, you can depict heroes of various folk tales or funny cartoon characters. You can decorate these stumps and draw the intended characters on them using outdoor paints. The images outside will wonderfully complement the flowers planted right inside the stumps. How to do this was described in detail at the beginning of the article. You can limit yourself to pots with plants.

Another wonderful composition, made by a professional artist and sculptor, creates a great mood inherent in a small fairy-tale corner of your garden

Let's turn a couple more stumps into children's chairs. To do this, we will not even cut out a massive back. If you have old chairs, take their backs for this work. They should be carefully freed from varnish, and then, using ordinary nails, nailed to the stump seats. Ready-made chairs just need to be painted in bright colors that children will definitely like.

Just turn the small remaining stumps into a flock of fly agarics, using bowls or basins of the appropriate size as their hats. Now you know exactly how such fly agarics can be made. Everything, improvisation on the theme of a fairy tale is ready.

Another idea of ​​how you can improve the stump, you may also be interested. For this purpose, you need a hefty stump with a powerful root system, which lurks in a shady place. If there is one in your area, you can consider yourself lucky.

A large moss-covered stump looks mysterious, as if it came into your garden straight from Twilight or some other saga

Shop for the right moss variety for your climate. You need to plant moss on a stump. In order for it to start, you will periodically have to sprinkle it with water. Now it is important that the moss grows. When this happens, you will be able to fully appreciate the grandeur of the resulting creation.

  • Author: Shandi