You may not want to see tree stumps in your garden or landscape because they are not attractive. Tree stumps also take up important space which could be used by grass or flowerbeds.
It may seem difficult, but you can get rid of the stump yourself. There are various ways to stop it from sprouting. We will discuss how to kill a tree stump in this article.
Why Do Trees Sprout After Being Cut Down?
When you cut trees with enough stored sugar and nutrients in their roots, there are chances that they will start growing again.
There are some species that normally sprout after being cut down like Maples, Lindens, Red Oak, Willows, Beech, Ash etc.
The appearance of sprouts is a survival mechanism. If left to themselves, the sprouts will grow into trees without growing a stable root plate.
Some Do-It-Yourself Methods: How to Kill A Tree Stump
Here are some easy methods if you want to kill a tree stump yourself. These methods are not very expensive, and you will not waste much time and energy.
This is a great option for those who prefer not to use synthetic chemical products to kill a tree stump. A more organic and natural approach will be to use Epsom salt. Please remember that since this is a natural method, it may take some time and repetitions to work effectively. It may also not work on large tree stumps.
Epsom Salt is a compound made up of sulphur, calcium, and magnesium. It is also called magnesium sulphate. It is classified as organic because it is derived from the earth in terms of natural minerals. Epsom salt is not added in food items because it tastes bitter. Although it can kill tree stumps and sprouts from tree stumps, it should be used carefully as it can harm the surrounding plants.
As mentioned earlier, the process of killing a tree stump through Epsom salt can take time. But you can accelerate the process by combining different techniques. You can drill holes on the trunk and fill them with Epsom salt for a quicker result.
Start by simply spreading the salt over the stump or drilling holes with a one-inch diameter drill bit. The holes should not be close to each other. You need to drill eight inches deep into the trunk. Then pour Epsom salt deep into the stump core and around the stump. Pour a thick layer of salt for best results.
This method works because the salt stops the roots from absorbing water and nutrients. Next, pour some water over the salt so that it melts and gets mixed properly. Rain can wash the salt off, so it is a good idea to cover the tree stump with plastic.
Repeat this process every week till the trunk becomes dry and brittle. You will be able to remove the trunk from the ground with your hands or an axe after it gets completely dry. This is a slow process but can be followed easily.
It goes without saying that fire is dangerous and this method, if adopted, should be done carefully. And not just that, you will need to check with your local authorities in your area and make sure if burning stumps is permitted. If not, you may need to pay fines.
Burning a tree stump is not easy because c’mon, it is a lot of wood together. You will have to prepare the tree stump before burning it. There are several methods that can be adopted to burn a tree stump:
Using a Saw – You will have to cut the stump top like a grid with a chainsaw or pole saw. Create a square grid and cut it down deep. This will allow the fire to penetrate down into the tree stump quickly.
Using a Drill – The objective of using a drill is the same as using a saw. You must make it easier for the fire to burn the tree stump. Drill down vertically and horizontally inside the stump. Usually, a one-inch drill bit is enough. Our aim is to make the drill holes intersect where the vertical and horizontal drill holes meet.
The intersecting holes allow airflow to fuel the fire and hence allows the burning of the tree stump effectively. Next, pour a flammable liquid like kerosine oil, or gasoline until the stump is thoroughly soaked. Then ignite it with the help of scrap wood or charcoal.
The fire should remain ignited until it reaches down to the roots and converts it into ashes. Sometimes, you must repeat this method a few times before you cut the stump off. One thing to keep in mind is that there is a lot of root systems underground. So, there is a risk of burning those roots too. And if the fire leads to another tree it may become dangerous.
Another method could be getting hold of potassium nitrate and pouring it into the drill holes. When you have filled the holes properly, pour in some hot water. The water acts as a dissolver to potassium nitrate and takes it throughout the stump.
When this is done, take the scrap wood that came out of drill holes and ignite them. Place them on the holes. The stump will start burning and turning into ash soon. You can use a shovel to remove the ash after the tree stump has completely vanished.
Grinding the stump is a faster method of how to kill a tree stump. This method needs protective gear and some prior knowledge of the equipment. The time grinding will take can range from 15 minutes to two hours or even more depending on the size of the tree stump. You can also hire a professional to do this work, but it is not that difficult to do it yourself. If you do not have a grinder, you can hire it for rent as well.
Make sure you have safety glasses and hearing protection before you start with the grinding process. Use a chainsaw and cut the stump as close to the ground as possible. Grind the stump as well as any aerial roots properly.
There will be woodchips and sawdust flying in the air, so goggles are necessary for protection. Remove these wood chips while wearing protective gloves. Do not forget to fill the hole with fresh soil.
If you do not want to take so much pressure from arranging the equipment and taking precautions, you can simply call a professional tree cutter. They have specialized equipment, and your work will be done in minutes.
Blocking the Sun
Wondering how to kill a tree stump? Simply remove the source of its existence – sun rays. This is a cheap kill technique. This method takes the most amount of time as compared to other methods described in this list. But it is totally free.
You just need a trash bag or dark tarp to cover the stump so that it is denied sunlight and water. You will need to wait for a few months – three to six till the tree stump dies of starvation. Check it from time to time to track the progress. You will find it rotting and falling apart. You can also combine this technique with the Epsom salt one and drill some holes to put salt into the tree stump. Then cover it. This will make the process faster.
Covering the stump prevents everything from going, but you may still find saplings growing around. You will have to constantly check for them and cut them off. If the stump is small, you can also use a dark-coloured bucket to cover it. Add a weight to the top of the bucket to keep it in place.
You can also choose to first grind the tree stump to the ground level and then cover it with dark plastic or tarp. Cover as many visible roots as you can with the tarp. The tarp should be at least 12 inches thick for a big tree stump. The stump will slowly weaken and start dying.
For those who do not want to put too much effort, using chemicals is a great choice. The method is easier but also slower. It may take a few months or even a year for the stump to vanish completely. There are many chemicals available that can kill a tree stump effectively. Here are some examples –
Tree Stump Remover
Tree stump removers are made up of potassium nitrate which has nitrogen, oxygen, and potassium. These chemicals reduce the natural decay time of the tree stump. When we use chemicals, the stump takes four to six weeks to decay and die. If you are dealing with a freshly cut stump, use products that have insecticides like triclopyr to kill the roots.
Instead of a tree stump remover, you can also use a fertilizer high in nitrogen. Soak the tree stump and the ground around it. Then cover the stump with a plastic tarp to prevent it from retaining moisture. You can also apply organic mulch over the tarp so that it holds additional moisture. Wet mulch is heavy which will also help in keeping the plastic tarp in place.
As the tree stump begins to rot away, the stump will start becoming soft and can easily be removed manually or through an axe. You may also have to repeat the process a few times until the stump rots fully.
If your tree stump is small to medium in size, you do not have to worry about how to kill a tree stump, you can simply do it yourself. A great tool for doing this manually is a mattock, which has a broad part for digging and a sharp part for slicing.
Start by digging around the stump and loosening the soil. You will have to clear away a lot of soil during this process. This is because it is important to reach all the roots to take the stump out.
Start taking out the roots from the soil as you uncover them. You will also need a sturdy spade and a digging iron to perform the task smoothly. Use the digging iron to dig into narrow spaces and uncover stubborn roots.
Continue working this way from all sides towards the taproot. When you see the taproot, use the mattock to chop through it. This is a labour-intensive approach, so it will take some time.