4 Proven Ways to Kill Tree Stumps?

  • By: CarlBroadbent
  • Time to read: 6 min.
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There are different methods you can use to kill a tree stump.

You don’t need to be a specialist to kill a tree stump. However, some of the stump removal methods require some skills and knowledge.

People have different reasons for cutting a tree; some do it for timber, clearing land for building, or reducing the risk of falling branches or trees in our homes.

How to kill Tree stump quickly and easily
Tree stump solution

At the end of it all, there is a tree stump left in our backyard, creating an unpleasant look or taking up space.

What to Expect? To kill a tree stump, you will have to damage the heartwood of the stump, which is the root system. You can use different methods such as motor oil, burning, or grinding the stump.

However, if the job seems complicated, you can always hire a professional to take care of the stump for you.

Proven Ways To Kill A Tree Stump?

How to kill tree stumps quickly and efficiently
How to kill tree stumps quickly

Most proven methods of killing a tree stump require more effort, money, and tools to perform compared to most DIY home remedies.

However, with these methods, you are guaranteed success.

1. Dig the tree stump out

The first and most straightforward method to kill a tree stump is to dig it out.

However, it is not always as easy as it sounds.

Small tree stumps are easy to dig out, unlike large tree stumps.

However, this could be pretty tiresome for large tree stumps, and you might require an extra hand to aid you.

Digging the tree stump out
Digging a tree stump

For large tree stumps, we recommend you consider hiring an expert with adequate skills and equipment to do the job for you.

This will not only save you time, but it is also significantly safer. Also, if you try doing it yourself, you can damage your garden.

If you decide to do it yourself, you will need:

  1. a sturdy spade
  2. digging iron
  3. and an ax

First, begin by loosening up the soil using your spade and then chop the exposed roots using the ax.

Work all around the tree stump, both downward and inward up to the taproot beneath the tree stump.

When the taproot is finally exposed, chop it through using the sharp edge of the ax. Once you do this, the stump should be loose enough to remove.

Digging tree stump
Dig tree stump out steps

Depending on the stump’s size, you can remove it by yourself or ask for help. After you remove the stump, fill the hole with soil or mulch after you are done.

While this method is excellent at removing bulky tree stumps, it is more intrusive than other methods; it takes more time, elbow grease, and powerful tools.


Key Takeaway: The good thing is that you are left with a clean slate that is open to any landscaping ideas. However, you are left with a large hole that you have to fill in.


2. Grinding the tree stump

Grinding is another effective method; however, it will require a grinder machine.

This is one of the quickest methods of killing a tree stump.

You can choose to hire a specialist since it requires a bit of effort and some technical skills.

Grinding the tree stump
Grinding the tree stump tips

However, if you have a grinder, you can do it independently. Since most of us don’t own these machines, you can still rent them and do the job.

This method could take as little as fifteen minutes to one hour.

However, operating a grinder can be dangerous to you and the people nearby, mainly due to flying chips and rocks.

Safety First – If you decide to do it by yourself, be sure to wear protective gear, including hearing protection and safety glasses, to avoid debris getting in your eyes. Another safety measure includes trimming the stump and removing any rocks within the area.

However, it comes with its pros and cons.

For instance, it is less intensive than digging it out, and it is also more efficient and requires less effort.

Additionally, you can use the woodchips in your garden as mulch. However, it is more expensive and requires specialized tools and skills.

3. Burning the tree stump

Another practical and effective method is burning the tree stump.

It is a cost-effective method to kill a tree stump. However, it is not allowed in some areas due to some fire safety regulations codes.

Burning tree stumps danger
Killing tree stump – burning method

Dry climate areas prone to wildfires could limit this tree stump removal method. Make sure you confirm with the local fire department before burning the tree stump.

Once you have a permit to use this method, there are different ways you can go about it.

Here is the process:

  • The first step is to drill twelve-inch deep holes on the stump’s surface with a space of one inch between each hole.
  • Pour kerosene or gasoline oil inside each hole until the tree stump is saturated completely. Pour on the top also and along the sides as well.
  • Ignite the stump using scrap wood or charcoal on the side and top of the stump also.

This method is quite dangerous; therefore, carefully monitor the fire as the wood burns.

While it is a slow method, it is very effective.

Keep In Mind – In some cases, you need to repeat this process before cutting the stump off.

Home Remedies You Can Use To Kill A Tree Stump?

Most home remedies that are used to kill tree stumps are not effective.

They end up using a lot of resources and might not even work.

The only home remedy that has shown some level of success is using Epsom or rock salt.

4. Using Epsom or Rock salt

Even though this method is effective, it requires a lot of patience since it takes several months, usually about six to twelve, for the stump to die.

Using Epsom or Rock salt to kill tree stump
Using Epsom salt to kill a tree stump

However, you should never use regular table salt since it is harmful to the soil.

Epsom salt works by draining the moisture in the stump, accelerating the decay process.

Don’t add other ingredients to the Epsom salt to avoid adversely affecting the fertility of the soil surrounding the stump.

To use this method:

  • First drill a pattern of deep holes across the stump’s surface. The holes should be about half or inch deep and at least nine inches wide. This will ensure that the salt penetrates deep into the stump.
  • Next, fill up the holes with Epsom salt. Ensure you are accurate while filling the holes with salt to avoid scattering all over your farm, which could harm your plants and soil.
  • Sprinkle water on the stump and cover it to prevent the soil from getting washed away by the rain.
  • Covering also denies the stump from sunlight which fastens the decay process.
  • Repeat the process after a few weeks for faster and more effective results.

What Should I Avoid When Killing Tree Stumps?

Even though some methods such as burning are proven to kill a tree stump are very effective, you should know that they come with some degree of danger.

Potential dangers when killing tree stump burning
Potential dangers when killing tree stump

Therefore, it is essential to avoid several things such as:

  1. Never use diesel fuel to burn tree trunks. The use of excessive amounts of diesel and kerosene can be harmful to your surrounding plants.
  1. Please avoid using chemicals as they might harm your lawn or garden. If chemicals get drained into your soil, they might lead to infertility and even kill your plants. They also tend to remain in the ground for a long time.
  1. While bleach can kill a tree stump, we don’t recommend this method since it is harmful to your surrounding plants.
  1. Avoid potential dangers such as leaving the fire unattended.

Final Thoughts

If you want to get rid of a tree stump in your yard, you can choose one of the above methods.

While you can kill the stump on your own, the fastest solution would be to hire a professional.

However, whatever method you choose to use, ensure you observe all the safety precautions to protect you or your surroundings.

Some of these methods are very dangerous, and one needs to be extremely careful.

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