Removing a tree from your property can be a huge ordeal. From cutting the tree down to the clean up afterward, the whole process boasts a lot of time and effort. What’s possibly even more work, though, is the removal of the tree stump afterward. Some homeowners opt to leave old tree stumps in place, however this decision can often create problems of its own.
A tree stump that is not removed can potentially attract pests; carpenter ants, for example, frequently build nests inside old stumps and spread from there throughout the rest of the home. Old tree stumps can also serve as an area for invasive plants to grow; certain fungi that sprout can pose a health hazard for children and pets. There are other safety concerns inherent in leaving a tree stump in place as well; for example, tripping hazards and an obstacle to machinery such as lawnmowers.
For these reasons, we recommend removing tree stumps from your yard. Once they’ve been taken out, you are free to use the space however you like. You could place a table in the area, or you could even plant a new tree. Whatever you choose to do, you will need to make sure the stump is fully removed first. Here are a few methods you can try:
- Grind the stump
This method is very effective for the removal of tree stumps, however it takes a good deal of work so you’ll need to clear your schedule for a few days for this project.
For around $100-$190 per day, you can rent a stump grinder, which is a heavy power tool about the size of a lawn mower that will chip away the wood. They are usually gas powered and, due to its size, will most likely have to be delivered to your home by the rental company.
When you are using a stump grinder, the most important consideration is safety. Do not attempt to use any piece of heavy machinery without familiarizing yourself with it first. Ask the dealer who rents the equipment to go over all of the controls and safety features before taking the stump grinder home. Make sure you have eye protection and hearing protection as well.
Once you have the grinder home, dig away any rocks that might be sitting around the base of the tree; these can harm the stump grinder. Before utilizing the stump grinder, cut away as much of the wood as you can with a chainsaw. The closer to the ground you can cut the stump, the easier the job will be.
To use the stump grinder, raise it a few inches above the tree stump using the attached hydraulic lever. Start the machine and lower it onto the stump; it will begin to chip away at the wood bit by bit. As it does so, move the machine side to side to slowly but surely grind away. After a while you will have ground away all of the wood, leaving nothing but shavings which you can clear away with a shovel. Fill the hole where the stump used to be with topsoil and you are finished!
- Burn the stump
Stump grinders, while effective, are relatively expensive and time consuming. There are a few other methods you can make use of to remove a tree stump, like burning. Burning a stump is a good option, but isn’t allowed everywhere, so you will need to check your local ordinances first. To burn a stump, you will need to purchase potassium nitrate. You’ll also need hot water and a lighter or matches. Take extra care when storing potassium nitrate as it is a volatile substance and can be potentially explosive.
To burn a stump away, the first thing you’ll need to do is drill several holes into it to a depth of about ten inches each. Carefully clear out all the debris that accumulates inside of these drilled holes and scoop a bit of the potassium nitrate into each one. Then fill the holes to the top with the hot water. Eventually, the potassium nitrate will dissolve and as it does so, the mixture will spread through the stump by way of the tree’s natural vascular system. This will not happen quickly. It may take a few weeks for the solution to become fully absorbed. After you’ve allowed the potassium nitrate to absorb, use some of the shavings that were created when you drilled into the stump as tinder and light each hole. As the tinder smolders, the stump will slowly begin to burn away. This could take several days or up to one week so keep an eye on the stump and rekindle the fire as necessary. As with any project involving fire, make sure you check on it regularly to prevent the fire from spreading.
- Rot the stump
This method is potentially the most time consuming, but it also requires the least supervision. As with the previous method, you simply have to drill a few holes into the stump first. Then you will fill the holes with a substance that has a high nitrogen content. Sodium nitrate, the chemical used in burning stumps, works well for this; although there are natural sources of nitrogen that are very effective as well such as compost or manure. Whatever nitrogen source you choose to use, simply add it to the holes that you have drilled and then fill the holes the rest of the way with hot water. Over the course of weeks, the solution will spread throughout the stump, and eventually the wood will begin to soften. As it does so, you can chip away the wood with a shovel until the stump is completely gone.
The solution you choose to use is dependent on personal preference as well as the amount of time you are willing to commit. However, many homeowners also opt to hire a stump removal professional, Unless you are removing a lot of stumps, this is often a cheaper option than renting expensive equipment and will save you quite a bit of work as well. Check online to find a stump removal service that can serve your needs.