What do you do after the tree is gone, and all that is left is a stump that might take years, even decades to rot away at nature’s speed? While you could have us grind the stump under ground level, you may just want to save the money for something else! Stump removal is a quite a demanding job, and can be surprisingly expensive when you compare it with the size of the tree that was just removed. However, there are a few practical options to remove a tree stump without too much trouble. You can decide for yourself which of these methods to use for which type of job. This guide will make things much easier for you in the long run.

By Hand

Not for the faint at heart, removing a stump by hand is a challenging task even with the right tools. It can be even more frustrating if gone about in the wrong way. We’d recommend this for smaller trees of less than 6” in diameter. To do this successfully, follow these step-by-step instructions to remove a stump manually:

  1. Hopefully there is enough stump left to have some leverage

  2. Dig and remove the soil to reveal the roots around the stump

  3. If you are having trouble getting a clear picture of where the main roots are, use a hose or power washer to wash the dirt away

  4. Use an axe to cut the major roots you can see

  5. Push the trunk until more roots are exposed, and continue the process of exposing and cutting until the stump is up

  6. If you have a truck, you can potentially use it to help pull the stump, but be careful not to ruin the truck in the process

Chemical Stump Removal

Follow these step-by-step instructions to remove a stump with chemicals:

  1. Using a chainsaw, cut off as much of the stump as possible, getting it as close to the ground as you can.

  2. Drill holes at 1 inch intervals around the circumference of the stump. Move inward by approximately 3 or 4 inches and drill additional holes as needed. These holes should be 8-12 inches deep depending on the size of the stump.

  3. Drill another set of holes around the sides so they meet with the holes in the top of the stump and create as close as possible a 45-degree angle.

  4. Pour potassium nitrate into the holes followed by water.

  5. Leave this mixture in the stump for six weeks, or until the stump becomes spongy.

  6. Use an axe to break up the spongy remains of the stump.

Burning a tree stump

If you don’t have a stump grinder, my favorite way to get rid of a stump is by burning it using a chemical accelerant. Once you have the stump cut off as low to the ground as possible with a chainsaw, you are ready to start this process:

  1. You’ll need an electric drill, battery or corded, a 1” paddle bit that is at least 10” long, potassium nitrate, trowel, a bucket of hot water, funnel, scrap wood, igniter and shovel

  2. Clear any flammable materials away from the stump

  3. Drill several holes from the top down into the center of the stump with your drill at a 30-degree angle, approximately 8-10 inches deep.

  4. Clean most of the debris out of the hole and you can use the plastic scoop or trowel to scoop potassium nitrate into each hole.

  5. Pour hot water into the hole until the potassium nitrate has dissolved - this may take several days until the granules have disappeared.  The point here is to get them to soak into the stump.

  6. After the potassium nitrate has soaked into the stump and the water has basically dried out, light a fire on top of the stump, which will ignite the potassium nitrate. The stump will burn slowly for a few hours and then you should be able to remove the rest of the roots that are left fairly easily.