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How to Remove a Tree Stump Painlessly

We'll show you how to do a tree stump removal. Use potassium nitrate stump remover to decompose old stumps.

remove a tree stumpFamily Handyman
This article shows you how to remove a tree stump without breaking your back. This method is safe and effective, and doesn't require a lot of manual labor. But you have to be patient. The process can take several weeks.

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Time
Multi-day
Complexity
Super Simple!
Cost
Under $20

How to remove a tree stump

tree stump removal - drill holes in the stump diagram

Drill holes in the stump

Cut off as much of the top of the stump as possible. Using a 1-in. spade bit with a spade bit extension, drill 1-in. holes around the perimeter of the stump about 12 in. deep and 3 to 4 in. back from the edge. Drill more holes 3 to 4 in. down from the rim at a 45-degree angle to connect with the other holes. They’ll provide vent holes for burning or help the rotting process.

pour tree stump removal chemicals in the holes

Pour tree stump removal chemicals in the holes

Pour 3 to 4 oz. of tree stump removal chemicals into each of the holes as you learn how to kill a tree stump and fill them with water. The process takes four to six weeks. Find granular root killer that is easy to pour into the holes here.

You can remove a stump by renting a power stump grinder (learn how to use a stump grinder here), which is an option for what kills trees quickly. But another way is to buy a can of tree stump removal (available at most garden or home centers). Most tree stump killer brands are made of powdered potassium nitrate, which speeds up the rotting process. You simply pour the granules into drilled holes and fill the holes with water. The stump will become pretty spongy after four to six weeks. Keep kids and pets away. Then you can break out the rotten wood with an ax.

Watch this video tutorial to learn how to remove a tree stump the best way:

You could also try a more natural method with epsom salt stump removal. Learn how to get rid of tree stumps with epsom salt here.

How to get rid of tree roots

For a completely labor-free removal, the manufacturers of tree stump removal suggest burning out what’s left of the stump by pouring kerosene or fuel oil (never gasoline) into the holes. Wait until the liquid completely penetrates the wood (this could take a few weeks). Then drop a match into the holes to start the burning process. The stump removal will smolder for days, eventually leaving a charcoal-filled hole. It’s dangerous having a giant, smoldering ember in your yard, so some precautions are in order. Envelop the stump in chicken wire, remove all leaves from the vicinity before ignition and keep an eye on it!

We suggest the ax method for finishing the job. Tree stump removal works only on seasoned (older) stumps that have been dead for a year or so, not freshly cut tree stumps.

Next, watch a video tutorial for how to cut down a tree yourself safely:

Required Tools for this Tree Stump Removal Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start – you’ll save time and frustration.

  • 12 in. bit extension
  • Corded drill
  • Extension cord
  • Safety glasses
You can use a drill/driver instead of a corded drill. A 1 in. spade bit is recommended, but you can use a slightly larger or smaller one, if that’s all you have

Required Materials for this Tree Stump Removal Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here’s a list.

  • Stump remover

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