6 Effective Ways to Kill Tree Stumps for Good

As a yard owner, you certainly want to maintain your outside area clean and tidy. This surely can require loads of effort.

Apart from trimming the grass and tending to the flower beds, removing a resilient stump is a must. Here, I’ve had several ways to kill tree stumps effectively.

Cutting back branches or pruning a tree undoubtedly can be a costly and exhausting process. However, it’s frustrating, particularly when you need to deal with a very stubborn stump. This normally requires professional help.

Unfortunately, cutting down the tree doesn’t overcome the problem. Some types of trees remain to generate sprouts. Furthermore, the stump will keep growing rather than rot long after you get rid of it.

Although the tree is dead, the roots and stump still can live without it. Moreover, the roots that grow unknowingly do not only spread underground but also cause damage to pipes and sidewalks.

6 Methods to Kill Tree Stump and Roots

In this post, I’ll present you with different techniques to remove the tree. There are also methods to successfully stop trunk and root sprouting. Keep reading to find the right solution.

1. Burn the Stubborn Tree Stump

This is one of the physical tree stump removal methods. If the stump in your yard has dried thoroughly, then burning it out is probably a workable solution. Fire is obviously dangerous, so you shouldn’t take it lightly.

Compared to digging, this technique takes more time. Moreover, it doesn’t necessarily eliminate the roots under the ground. However, burning the tree stump out may give you satisfactory results.

Before you kill tree stumps, consult your local ordinances first to know if burning them out is completely permissible. Not all fire departments let citizens do so.

If burning a tree stump is totally okay, then you can start drilling a few 8 to 10 inch-deep holes in it. Next, clear any unwanted debris away from them.

Once you’ve cleaned up the holes, pour some potassium nitrate into them. Finally, use some hot water to fill the holes. Not only does it dissolve the potassium nitrate but also distributes the solution throughout the tree stump.

To kill tree stumps, you must take the scrap wood. Then, light them on fire and put them back in the holes. They’ll start to smolder.

This method turns the entire tree stump into ash. I recommend extending a pressurized hose to the area.

Pay attention to the burning fire the whole time since it’s unpredictable. This could take a day or even longer, depending on the weather conditions, wood type, and size.

To make the burning process faster, just dig soil away from the tree stump base to improve airflow. When it has totally turned to ash, get rid of it using a shovel immediately.

2. Grind the Stump Down

Speaking of how to stop tree stump from sprouting, consider grinding the stump down. This method is quite costly.

The process takes 15 minutes to 2 hours or longer. Furthermore, you can either do it yourself on the weekend or hire a professional stump grinder team.

Typically, gas-powered stump grinders can cost you $100-200 every day. You definitely need to bear this expense in mind. It makes some yard owners feel a bit shocked when they know that number.

You can kill tree stumps by grinding them down using a grinder. If treated without utmost attention and care, it can be seriously dangerous.

The stump grinder rental company will explain to you how to operate the tool. The process will require some extra time. However, it’s worth doing because it can protect you from the undesired dangers that the machine offers.

Before grinding the stump down, you must have done these things below. They help ensure your safety during the whole process.

  • Prepare Proper Ear Protection

If you plan on grinding the stump yourself, using fit ear protection is a necessity. The grinder is very loud. It can surely cause real damage to your hearing when using the tool.

  • Prepare Safety Glasses

To kill tree stumps safely using a grinder, you’ll also need to wear eye protection. The safety glasses are really crucial.

When it comes to debris, stump grinders can be unpredictable. Safety glasses will certainly protect you from stump random pieces.

  • Remove Rocks Near the Tree Stump

If you see rocks around the tree stump, don’t forget to get rid of them first before grinding them. The machine can turn the rocks into a dangerous projectile. Moreover, this keeps them from damaging the equipment.

  • Prepare a Chainsaw

Chainsaw can make the whole grinding process considerably easier. It will help you cut down the tree stump even further. The closer to the soil, the better it would be. Let the grinder do the rest.

Now, it’s time to grind the stump. You can use a hydraulic lever to raise the machine above the tree stump. Then, lower it down onto its surface slowly.

The stump grinder will move from one side to another. Moreover, the machine clears the stump as it passes. It can remove the roots, too. Once you’ve used the tool, turn it off. Then, use topsoil to fill the hole for a level lawn.

3. Dig the Stump Out

This is another way to kill tree stumps physically. If their diameters are up to 12 inches, then digging them out could be the best and most practical method.

Digging just needs simple hand tools. You don’t have to rent the digging machine. Even though this technique is labor-intensive, but it’s doable with the appropriate gear.

Before you dig the tree stump out, prepare a digging iron, mattock, and spade first. Consider using a narrow and sturdy spade with an average-length handle.

It does not only dig deeply but also maneuvers around the thick root ball easily.

As for mattock, it will chop through roots. The tool also loosens dense soils with ease. Meanwhile, the digging iron helps you dig into either narrow or deep spaces. It pries up resilient roots, too.

Steps to Kill Tree Stump by Digging It Out

  • Loosen the soil around the tree stump using a mattock;
  • Clear the soil away with the help of the spade;
  • Use a mattock for chopping through the exposed roots;
  • Continue to work downward and inward from all directions toward the taproot underneath the tree stump;
  • Pry the tree stump sideways for extra working space or loosen the soil under the stump using a digging iron;
  • Once you see the exposed taproot, chop it through using the mattock’s sharp edge;
  • Get rid of the tree stump with its roots and root ball.

4. Use Chemicals to Kill Tree Stumps

If you want to kill tree stumps effectively, consider applying chemicals directly to them. This technique might require a few applications. However, it’s one of the most practical ways to prevent the tree from sprouting.

First, you must drill holes all over the trunk surface. Then, find a commercial tree stump killer. Next, fill the holes with it accordingly.

Be careful when you kill tree stumps using chemicals. Always read manufacturer instructions and warnings first. Remember that they can be possibly hazardous to adjacent plants or animals in the area.

I recommend taking broadleaf weed killers since they contain glyphosate. This is certainly an effective method to kill tree stumps in the yard. However, the chemicals could spread into neighboring trees and plants.

The commercial tree stump remover can be deadly for the surrounding plants. That means you must replace plants or trees that fall into the fire line.

Don’t forget to focus on your safety since chemicals can be hazardous. During the whole process, you must grasp the relevant measures to keep yourself secure. I suggest wearing gloves, a long sleeve shirt, and safety glasses.

Be sure to buy the best tree stump killer on the market. I highly suggest using it on aged and dead stumps.

There are also products to remove freshly cut trees. Apply them atop the stump within minutes of taking the tree down, thus they can immediately get into the remaining roots and stem.

5. Apply a Stump-Killing Herbicide

Do you plan to kill tree stumps? If yes, I recommend using a stump-killing herbicide. Make sure to apply it within 30 minutes of cutting the tree down or right before the tree removal.

Spring is the right time to kill tree stumps in the yard. Moreover, herbicides come in two types: spray-on and brush-on.

They do not only eliminate stumps but also prevent their future growth. First of all, read the directions before following them.

These two kinds of stump-killing herbicides won’t get into the soil and cause damage to plants in your area if used properly.

Furthermore, their ingredients will move down the tree stump and then traverse into the roots to poison them.

If you still notice sprouts after getting rid of the stump, simply apply the herbicide to them. This is normal because the chemical hasn’t properly reached the roots that are very far from the tree trunk.

Some people apply a non-selective herbicide. The product can kill tree stumps that it comes into direct contact with. There’s a chance the plants and trees within the area are dying.

Don’t mishandle the herbicides. They certainly can be dangerous for you. Some of them also can damage the soil. Moreover, they remain persistent after the first application.

When sprouts emerge, you can apply the herbicide or dig them up by hand. Remove the sprouts below the soil level using scissors or pruning shears. Block off the sunlight by covering the soil.

Getting rid of the sprouts as they emerge will deplete the food reserves of the roots. It may require some time. However, this technique will stop them from popping up.

6. Kill Tree Stump Naturally

If you have lots of time, it would be better to kill tree stump without chemicals. This method makes your job easier because the decay process will weaken the wood.

Some people choose the slow approach. If you’re one of them, try applying one of these easy and cheap home remedies.

  • Kill Tree Stump with Epsom Salt

Make your homemade tree stump killer with Epsom salt. It’s also known as magnesium sulfate.

This bath-time essential can get the much-needed moisture out of the tree stump within just a month if applied in an excessive concentration.

First, drill some 1/4-inch holes, about 3″ from the external side of the tree stump. Space them about 1″ apart. Then, use Epsom salt to fill them. Next, add enough water to the holes.

After that, sprinkle some Epsom salt around the base of the tree stump. Lastly, use a tarp to cover it. This solution will stop the supply of moisture to the roots and remove the stump forever.

  • Apply a Saltwater Solution

Rock salt is another great product to kill unwanted tree stumps. This method also takes about 8-10 weeks for removing the stump, but it’s less desirable than Epsom salt.

Sodium chloride or rock salt kills the stumps and has an unfavorable effect on plants.

If you use it in a high concentration, the substance will dislocate the potassium and phosphorus that they need. This can cause death and deficiencies.

What Not to Do

When it comes to removing the tree stumps, you must avoid the following things. Because they could potentially damage your plants.

  • Avoid Killing Tree Stumps with Diesel

Diesel is very popular among tree stump burners. It doesn’t explode like gasoline. However, this flammable liquid won’t produce a long and steady burn.

As a chemical tree stump killer, diesel would likely create an effect, too. It’s better to use Epsom salt to get rid of the stumps.

  • Avoid Killing Tree Stumps with Bleach

You shouldn’t use bleach on your plants. The dangers are certainly bigger than marginal benefits. Moreover, chlorine bleach can cause damage to desirable trees when it stays in the soil.

Applying bleach in a high concentration would potentially damage adjacent perennials, shrubs, and grass. It could increase soil pH considerably, too.

I recommend employing one of these amazing ways to kill tree stumps effectively. The success of stump removal depends greatly on the technique and your efforts. Which method do you like the most?

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