If you have any amount of property at all, even just a front and back yard in the middle of Suburbia, Anytown, USA chances are you’ll have a tree or two or even many on it.
Trees don’t last forever, and when they die from disease, age, damage (or just aggravating homeowners with their copious leaves every fall) the gravestone they leave behind is their stump, sitting there, stuck firmly and seemingly immovably in the ground. An eyesore to be sure.
Though it’s the end of the line for the tree it is rarely the end of the line for your chores.
Though some homeowners decide to just forget the stumps and leave them as-is to eventually decay away over many, many long years, it is better to get rid of them permanently.
This will improve the appearance of your land, certainly, but is also important for safety since it will reduce infestations of insects, hazards for your lawn mower and the possibility of a stumble and fall for kids and adults alike.
Just one problem: For most folks getting a stump out of the ground and disposed of is a back breaking, lengthy ordeal no matter how you try to handle it.
Defeating masses of gnarled vines and the thick, hard portion of the trunk that remains underground is going to be hard going no matter who you are.
But there might be a better way. We are here to share with you that better way, and have 10 techniques for getting an old tree stump off your property.
Chopping is the time-honored, time tested and most labor intensive way to remove a stump there is.
Chances are you’ll be using the same tool to part out and remove the stump that you use to fell the tree in the first place, your axe.
There is nothing for it except to chop it away and take out the stump piece by blistering piece.
With enough time and enough exhausting labor, pretty soon you’ll have the stump dispensed with, though some roots might remain underground.
You’ll need to approach this task with extreme caution, as chopping at anything that is resting at or below ground level is a great way to have an axe-cident with an axe, and you might lose some toes or a foot in the bargain.
Additionally, you need to take pains to try and avoid hacking through soil, as you don’t know what else might be near the base of the tree.
Striking a stone will seriously damage your ax but it might also deflect your strike, increasing danger.
For those lacking an axe or people who just have more time to devote to the process and exchange for keeping the hardcore labor to a minimum, you might try digging up the stump using shovels, mattock’s and the like.
Though it is almost certain to be a lengthier process it does not necessarily have to be back breaking assuming the soil is not terribly hard.
By excavating around the trunk of the tree and slowly revealing the major buttressing roots that are primarily responsible for anchoring the tree in place the stump will inexorably lose its grip on the soil and become much more vulnerable to being lifted out of the ground wholesale.
Do take care, as even a comparatively small stump can be shockingly heavy, and you don’t want to risk an injury hoisting it out of the ground.
Composting a tree stump is the perfect method of disposal for people who already employ composting and have plenty of time to get rid of the stuff.
Assuming both of those are true, there is hardly any real effort involved in the process aside from adding to and maintaining your compost pile as usual.
All you need to do is place a large amount of compost over the entirety of the stump. If it is already split open or drilled and a couple of places so much the better.
Then, all that is required is maintaining your compost pile, adding to it, turning it and wedding it as necessary to keep it healthy and productive.
The same process that turns your scraps and yard debris into compost will act on the stump to break it down far more rapidly than would typically occur naturally without your intervention.
Anywhere from 6 months to a year later you can remove your compost pile to find the stump disintegrated or nearly so, making the job of removal exponentially easier.
Sometimes you just need to stop screwing around and call in the heavy artillery.
When it comes to stump removal, a purpose-built stump grinder is the ultimate option, capable of reducing any stump, no matter how tough and gnarly, to nothing more than a pile of wood chips and smaller fragments.
These beefy, heavy-duty machines look for all the world like a super-sized chainsaw or cutting wheel, though they are typically slower in operation.
By methodically positioning and lowering the bar into the stump the massive chisel-like teeth of the stump grinder will hack apart the stump, roots and all, right below the ground.
These machines are large, bulky and can be dangerous, so though they are available as rentals and commercial models are available for purchase you must be cautious and know what you’re doing before you decide to embark on stump removal using one.
When we stop to think, physics will usually provide the answer to all sorts of problems that would otherwise require brute strength and agonizing labor.
After all, simple machines have been helping humans quite literally conquer nature since time immemorial, a fact we often forget in our modern hubris that has been so shaped by our reliance on power tools and outsourcing.
In this case, we may make use of the humble wedge to help us reduce the tree stump to much more manageable pieces.
There are a couple of ways to do this. The first is to use a jumbo wedge that can be hammered or driven by hydraulic pressure into the stump, bisecting it.
Performing this consecutively on the smaller and smaller pieces of the stump will quickly reduce it to splinters that are easier to wrangle.
Another way involves using a series of smaller wedges that are hammered in using a sledgehammer, one after the other, in a line, doing the same thing on a smaller scale.
There is not a man on Earth who could pluck an intact tree stump out of the ground using his own strength, except perhaps one of our heroes of myth.
Not with a team of men could you accomplish such a thing with brute strength alone. Such is the holding power of a tree’s roots.
However, mechanical advantage afforded by simple tools can overcome even the strength of roots that run deep.
Stumps and large roots have been removed more or less wholesale through the use of winches and also farm jacks, AKA hi-lift jacks, set up through various means.
This might take a little extra ingenuity when it comes to prepping for the operation, as your lifting mechanism must be mounted to an equally strong and stable fixed point that will resist sinking into the ground when tension is applied.
This operation must be done carefully, as the chances of mishap, especially when using a jack or come along, are comparatively high.
Even so, this is one of the best methods for removing a stubborn stump with minimal effort when power tools are unavailable.
Burning a stump out of the ground is a time-honored method that definitely works, but one that is fraught with peril and is unlikely to make you any friends in your neighborhood if you live in a populated area.
Fire will make short work of wood much of the time and this includes stumps, especially wood that is old and dried out.
There are several ways to employ fire to reduce or eliminate a tree stump. The first involves the use of accelerants and holes being drilled into the stump.
This ensures a more or less even burn from the top down, reducing the stump to cinders.
Another popular method is to simply build a bonfire atop the tree step assuming the location is suitable.
Lastly, the stump may be split into six or eight equal wedges using any method above and then a fire built and lit in the center, something like a giant, in-ground torch.
Whatever method of burning you rely on, use the greatest possible care when any combustible liquids are added and make sure you are following all fire safety procedures, including abstaining from burning when fire risk is too high in your area.
Believe it or not, there are quite a few specialty stump rotting chemicals on the market today.
Many of them are even branded for the purpose, and can be purchased at the consumer level for most hardware and many big box home improvement stores.
Your local farmer supply store is also highly likely to carry these, such as potassium nitrate, glyphosate, or triclopyr.
In theory, all you need to do is douse the stump with the chemicals or sometimes drill a hole in it before pouring the chemical in.
In a couple of weeks or a month you come back and can easily remove the pulpy, rotted mass of what used to be that annoying stump.
There are many varieties of chemicals that can be used for the purpose including muriatic acid and certain high nitrogen content chemicals.
You must take all reasonable precautions when employing these chemicals because quite a few of them are highly caustic, and if spilled or mishandled could result in injury or damage to your local ecosystem.
Nonetheless, used with care and assuming you don’t have any conflicting issues with your landscape or the surrounding terrain this is an excellent, easy and relatively quick acting option for stump removal.
Sometimes there is no other way to get that stubborn stump out of the ground than to yank it out using heavy equipment, and everybody has access to heavy equipment so long as they, a friend or a relative own a capable pickup truck or ATV.
The setup for this operation involves a little bit of extra work though it might seem like the easiest of all possible methods for stump removal.
You’ll need to ensure that your chain, or ropes, can fully encircle the stump and do so securely where they won’t slip free when the pull is commenced, potentially damaging the vehicle and anybody caught in the way.
Sometimes this is best accomplished by digging under or partially under the stump. If you are beginning the operation by cutting the tree down, all you need to do is leave the trunk sticking a little proud out of the ground and you’ll have plenty of wood left to grab hold of.
Remember to go easy on the gas and slowly apply throttle, allowing the torque of the vehicle to break the root’s grip on the soil.
Face it: sometimes the task will best any of us. If you don’t have the tools, the strength, the know-how or the time to remove a stump from your yard don’t be ashamed to hire it out to an experienced professional or even an enthusiastic amateur.
There is no need to risk life or limb and a ton of time in pursuit of an objective they can usually accomplish for $100 bucks or a little more.
Make the call and let the professionals take care of it while you worry about other things.
Stumps left in the ground are unsightly and safety hazards for kids and lawn mowers alike.
You can restore the appearance of your property and get rid of an annoying, aggravating stump easily enough using any of the methods provided for you on this list.
No matter what kind of stump you are dealing with, no matter what kind of property you have and what other restrictions you are facing there are bound to be at least a couple of methods that can get the job done.
Tom Marlowe practically grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, Tom has the experience to help civilian shooters figure out what will work best for them.