Tree stumps are commonplace in front and back yards everywhere. They also must be removed but getting a grinder to do it can be expensive. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to get rid of them. These methods are much cheaper and easier to accomplish, and you’ll get the same results.
There are three main methods you can use when removing a tree stump: Digging it out, using chemicals, and burning it out. While digging may be easier for smaller stumps, consider using a mixture of fertilizer and water or burning with kerosene with larger stumps.
Use caution and wear protective gear with all these methods, especially the ones that include chemicals. All these methods require very few tools, making them easier to accomplish. Both the chemical and burning methods require a wide drill bit. The digging method needs mostly an axe or chainsaw, and a shovel. All these methods can be more time consuming than using a grinder. But they do create less mess and are much cheaper.
In this post, we’ll look at the three manual ways of removing a tree stump. This will include the steps for all three methods, along with plenty of safety tips.
Step-by-Step Instructions to Remove a Tree Stump Using the Chemical Method
One of the most common methods for removing tree stumps is by using chemicals. The chemicals cause the stump to decay faster. This allows for faster and easier removal. It also requires very little physical strain.
Step 1: Cut and drill the stump.
Before any chemicals are used, you should cut the stump down. This can be done using a chainsaw or, for smaller stumps, a bow saw. Ideally, you want the stump to be as low to the ground as possible.
When you do this, make sure that you are wearing protective gear such as gloves and steel-toed boots. Chainsaws can cause injuries if precautions are not taken and there is an accident.
After the stump is cut, use a wide drill bit to drill holes into the stump. Be sure to drill in several places and that the holes go as deep as possible. This will allow the chemicals to get to as much of the stump as possible.
Step 2: Add the chemicals to the drilled holes.
Once the holes have been drilled, you can add chemicals to them. The chemicals consist of water and fertilizer that is high in nitrogen. The nitrogen will help bacteria and fungi to decompose the stump at a faster rate.
The water also helps to feed the bacteria, as they tend to grow more in moist environments. Add the water to the holes you drilled, then add the fertilizer.
The mixture will seep into the holes, getting as deep into the stump as possible. The deeper the mixture gets, the more the stump will decompose.
Step 3: Put protective layers over the stump.
Aside from the chemicals, the most important part of this method is the protective layers. They serve several purposes, from aesthetics to actual protection.
After the chemicals have been added to the stump, the first thing you should do is cover the stump with a plastic tarp. This locks in the moisture you’ve just added, along with protecting animals from the chemicals.
Because moisture is so important, you will also want to add mulch or hay over the tarp to keep the area even wetter. Aesthetically, it will hide the decaying stump from view, which will make your yard look nicer.
Step 4: Repeat the process as necessary.
Although you have added everything you need to the stump, the process is not over. You will repeat the process several more times over the next 4-6 weeks.
The mixture of chemicals only lasts so long and will need to be replenished periodically. To do this, simply remove the mulch and the tarp, and refill the holes with water and fertilizer.
You can do it the same way you did the first time. Though this process takes a long time, using the chemicals does speed up the decaying process. Decomposed stumps are easier to remove than freshly cut ones.
Step 5: Remove the remaining wood.
Though it may take longer, the stump should be easily removable within 4-6 weeks. The wood should become soft and spongy enough to easily chop it off or break it apart.
Make sure you contact a local garden center about the removal of the remains, as they still have the chemicals in them. Some parts of the stump may not be decayed enough, and there are a couple of options in this case.
First, you can treat it again now that some wood has been removed. Or you can bury it underground to finish decaying on its own.
Step 6: Take these safety precautions.
You should always keep these precautions in mind, especially because there are chemicals in use. First, make sure you are wearing gloves and eye protection throughout the process. You do not want the chemicals on your skin or in your eyes, as they can be dangerous.
Prevent others, including pets and other animals, from touching the chemicals. This can be done with the tarp, informing family members of the stump, and setting up a barrier.
Even if you’ve used protection, you should still wash your hands and tools after handling the chemicals. This will prevent you from contaminating yourself or other plants from the chemicals.
Can You Dig Up the Stump by Hand?
You can also remove the stump by hand without any chemicals. However, this method is labor-heavy and more difficult physically. For this method, you will need a shovel, a mattock, and an axe or chainsaw. Like the previous method, make sure you are wearing protective gear to keep yourself safe.
You should start by digging around the stump. You can use your mattock for this, or a shovel. You should dig at least 12 inches around the stump. But, if the stump is larger, that can vary and the area can be larger. The point of this is to gain access to the roots.
Trees can have very deep or thick roots, so you will need enough room to cut them. The amount of soil removed may be quite large, so make sure you have somewhere to put it. Bigger stumps will typically require far more soil to be removed than smaller stumps.
Then, cut the roots away. Once you have enough room to cut the roots, you can use a chainsaw or an axe. Both will get the job done, though the axe may take more effort. A handsaw can also do the job for smaller roots.
Roots can go quite deep; you should cut them rather than trying to dig them out or pulling them out. The biggest and most important root to cut is the tap root. It goes straight down from the tree.
But, in order to get to it, you need to cut the other roots first. Cutting them will help you gain access to the tap root. However, you may still need to do some digging to uncover the tap root. Once you have room to cut the tap root, you may do so with an axe or saw.
Now, you can safely remove the stump from the ground. Depending on the size of the stump, you may need additional tools or the help of another person.
Be aware of your physical abilities. Be careful with the physical exertion required for this method, as it may be difficult. Consider having assistance with this method, or choose another one, if you think it may be too physically taxing.
Can You Burn the Stump to Kill It?
Yes, there is a method that involves burning the stump, which can be used in place of the previous two methods. For this method, you will need a drill with a wide bit, some scrap wood, a lighter, and kerosene.
Always wear protective gear, especially when dealing with flammable items. Be careful of smoke inhalation and keep a constant eye on the fire to ensure safety. Do not go to sleep with the fire still going. Light it again in the morning if necessary.
Step 1: Drilling the holes
Like the chemical method, you will need to drill into the stump. Make the holes as wide and deep as possible. Again, just like the chemical method, the liquid will need to seep in as much as possible. The difference here, though, is that there are specific holes you will need to drill.
You should drill around 3 or 4 holes vertically through the top. You should also drill around 4 holes that come through the sides to meet the vertical holes. This allows for the most surface area covered as possible.
Step 2: Preparing to Add the Kerosene
Before you pour in the kerosene, make sure to remove the debris from the drilling. Again, this is to make sure you can cover the most area. Don’t use gasoline, as it is a lot more dangerous to use, especially if you are inexperienced. Use kerosene.
Step 3: Adding the Kerosene
Pour in the kerosene in, then wait a few minutes to let it seep into the holes and the wood. Add more kerosene and repeat this process a few times. Let it sit and soak for a few minutes.
After this, you can add fuel by covering the already-soaked stump with scrap wood that is also soaked in kerosene. This will help you to yield the best results.
Step 4: Lighting the Fire
At this point, you can use a lighter to light the flame. Despite a large amount of kerosene, this may take some time to burn out as much wood as possible. It could take about 24 hours to finish burning.
If needed, you can add more scrap wood occasionally, which will hurry the process along. However, this isn’t required.
Does the Size of the Stump Affect Which Method You Use?
In short, yes. Only use the manual method for smaller stumps. Otherwise, it could take a lot longer and be a lot more difficult than you would like.
Some of the methods are similar and may help you make a choice. The burning and chemical methods can be used on any type of stump, not just the larger ones. In terms of physical labor required for each method, the size of the stump should be considered.
For example, as mentioned previously, the digging method requires soil removal, which can be a difficult task.
Along with this, the burning and chemical methods each require the removal of the burned/decomposed material after the process is finished. This should also be taken into consideration, as it will affect which method might be easier in the long run.
Your own abilities affect which method you use. Overall, which method depends on your own physical ability and what tools you have on hand.
The digging method may work for small stumps, but you might not have the strength to complete it or you might not have a chainsaw on hand. In this case, it would make more sense to use a method with fewer tools and less physical labor.
It isn’t the only factor, but it’s still important. While the size of the stump isn’t the end-all-be-all factor, it is very important to consider.
If you are not sure exactly which method you should use, you can call a local tree removal service or garden center. They will be able to give you expert advice on stump removal.
There’s a lot of information to take in, but all of it can help you to easily and safely remove a tree stump of any size. Tree stumps are important to remove after the tree is cut down. If you don’t remove it, there is a risk of a termite infestation. Feel free to leave a comment with any questions you have or share your own experience!