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5 Methods for Tree Stump Removal

If you manage any property with trees, you’ve most likely had one or two removed. Whether it was because it was sick or you just felt like it was time to open up the space for other uses, getting rid of a tree is no small task. Even after you’ve taken the time to ensure it gets cut down and removed safely, you’re still left with one frustrating reminder: the stump.

We know a few things about working with trees, and we’ve seen firsthand how old stumps can be a terrible eyesore in an otherwise beautiful landscape. If there’s one you’ve been itching to get rid of, there’s no time like the present to get to work. As your Portland tree service experts, we’re ready to help you on your way. Here are five different methods for tree stump removal for you to consider.

Digging it Out

5 Methods for Tree Stump Removal

If the tree in question wasn’t too big, the simplest method of tree stump removal is just digging the whole thing out. Provided the roots don’t run too deep, you might be able to take care of the whole problem with some basic tools and plenty of elbow grease.

First, dig up the area surrounding the stump. The goal is to expose as much of the root system as possible, especially the larger roots. Once you’ve done that, start breaking the roots up into smaller pieces. A root saw is recommended here, as you’ll want precise control of where you’re cutting. If you use something like an axe, you run the risk of cracking into an unseen rock. After the roots have been loosened, you’ll need to pull them out of the soil. This will loosen the stump itself, allowing you to use a shovel to finally pry it up out of the ground.

Using a Stump Grinder

In the event that a stump’s roots run too deep, you may need to make use of a stump grinder. These heavy-duty machines are specifically designed for grinding old stumps up all the way down to the roots, making quick work of even the most stubborn customers. While stump grinders are available for personal rental, some homeowners prefer to hire a professional to operate the machine. Whether it’s you or a tree removal expert behind the wheel, a stump grinder is a very effective method of tree stump removal.

Whenever you work with heavy machinery, safety should be your first priority, and a stump grinder is no exception. Before you get to work, be sure to clear away any rocks or debris in the area around the stump. You’ll also want to employ the proper eye and ear protection, as well as a sturdy pair of gloves and boots. With your safety precautions in place, you can move the grinder into position and get to work. You’ll need to grind not only the visible stump, but also the root systems running out around it. As long as you cover a wide enough circumference, you’ll be able to dig up the stump debris easily.

Burning It

Should you decide that a stump grinder isn’t the right choice but you can’t just dig the stump out, you can turn to one of humanity’s oldest tools: fire. Obviously, there are a lot of risks when it comes to using fire for tree stump removal, so check with your local laws and fire conditions to ensure it’s both legal and safe. If you get the green light, you’ll be able to break the stump down with ease.

The secret to removing a stump with fire is keeping the stump in the center of the heat. Build up wood around and on top of the stump, and be ready to keep feeding the fire. Burning a stump away will take hours, and you’ll need to be sure the fire is burning big and burning hot. Keep tending the blaze, and after some time, you’ll be left with just ash. Dig it out, replace it with new soil, and you’ll be done!

Rot It Away

If you’ve ever taken a biology class, you know that the natural world has some pretty potent waste disposal tools. Did you know, though, that you can use those very same tools for tree stump removal? Rot and decay are part of the cycle of life, and with some encouragement, you can utilize the same processes to clear out your yard.

To kick-start the process, you’ll need to make the stump more appealing to microbial life. Start by drilling holes into the top of the stump, approximately eight inches deep. Then fill those holes with warm water and a nitrogen-rich substance of your choice. Products like blood meal or even your own compost are great sources of nitrogen while still staying natural.

The water and nitrogen will get the decay ball rolling, accelerating the process and weakening the stump. As the stump begins to rot, it’ll become easier and easier to chip pieces of it away. With enough time, you’ll be able to remove the whole stump without any back-breaking labor.

Chemically Remove It

In addition to the more natural methods of tree stump removal, there are also chemical options available to make the process easier. They work on similar principles to organically rotting a stump but can come with risks if not handled carefully. When properly used, chemical stump removers are a highly effective way of removing unwanted stumps from your property.

Again, the first step is drilling holes into the stump. Once you have a good assortment of holes in and around the stump, pour in your chemical remover. From there you’ll need to wait for the chemicals to take effect, softening the stump. This can take a few weeks, so be patient and monitor the situation until it looks soft enough to remove.

It’s important to keep kids and pets away from the stump while you wait, as the chemicals can prove harmful. Once the stump is weakened, you’ll be able to chop it up and haul it away. Some homeowners find it helpful to also employ fire at this stage, after most of the above-ground wood has been removed, to further weaken anything underground. That way, you’ll be sure to remove the entire stump, as well as its root system.

Whatever method you decide to go with, or if you decide to call in professional tree service, at Mr. Tree, we’re happy to help in any way we can. Whether that means just some words of advice or operating a grinder for you, our expertise is at your disposal.