How To Remove A Tree Stump By Hand

You have various options to remove tree stumps after cutting down a tree in your yard.

To get rid of an unsightly stump, you can opt for mechanical means; if you wish to tackle the job yourself, you can find many other ways of dealing with the issue. A chemical stump remover can be used, or if you want the job completed quicker, you can get your hands dirty and get digging.

Much about pulling a stump depends on the type and size of tree you have, and when you try to pull the stump up, you’ll find it is a challenging task but worthwhile.

In our guide, you can learn more about using the right stump removal tools and the several methods on offer to remove stumps.

Removing A Tree Stump By Hand

By the end, you’ll have all you need to have your tree removed, and you can get to work to remove your large stump and have a great lawn after. (Learn How To Preserve A Tree Stump)

What Is The Fastest Way to Remove a Tree Stump?

If you cut down a tree, you’ll find you can start grinding stumps with a stump grinder on the same day.

A stump grinder is by far the fastest way to deal with large stumps that can’t be removed by hand, yet their use can be expensive.

You can hire stump grinders from hardware stores and home improvement centers. The tree stumps and roots are ground down to about 1′ into the earth by these machines, which is usually enough to kill the entire stump and major roots of a large tree stump.

Here you can find a walk-through of using stump grinders to deal with large tree stumps.

1. Grind the Tree Stump

Follow the stump grinder’s directions to the letter. Activate the grinder by placing it over the stump, where it will grind down the stump before moving into the ground to cut up the roots.

After you’ve ground the stump into the ground, use the grinder to get the root structure in the area directly around the stump. (Read Killing A Tree With Diesel Guide)

2. Remove Debris and Fill the Hole

Remove the ground-up stump, roots, and other debris using a shovel. Put the trash in a yard waste bag or add most of it to your compost pile.

When removing a tree stump, you’ll get a lot of wood chunks. These you can use around your yard as organic mulch.

Fill up the hole left by the stump with dirt, loam, or potting soil, as needed. By hand or with a tamper, compact it. To ensure the area matches the rest of your yard, apply grass seed or lawn restoration patches to the area after removing a tree stump, and the hole is filled.

Here you can see the steps on how to remove a tree stump from the ground by hand as a comparison. The steps here make the task appear far easier than it can be, especially with larger stumps.

  1. Use your pointed shovel and dig the soil from around your tree stump.
  2. Continue digging until all the roots are exposed around the stump, and you gain access.
  3. Cut any small-diameter tree roots.
  4. Use your hand saw or reciprocating saw and cut more extensive tree roots.
  5. Chop hard-to-reach roots using an iron digging bar or a cutter mattock without using a power tool.
  6. Once you have cut all the roots, push the stump over, and roll it from the hole. A larger stump may need towing with a truck.
  7. Backfill your hole using the excavated soil, and more you may have to purchase.
  8. If you remove the stump during the spring, you can rake grass seed into your soil and water frequently, so it matches the rest of your lawn.
  9. If you are removing over one tree stump, it means you will have several holes around your garden.

With either the stump grinder or using the manual steps above, make sure you wear the correct protective gear. Work boots are advised, as you don’t want the force of a digging bar to hit your foot as you drive it toward the root systems.

What Is the Best Tool To Remove a Tree Stump?

With many stump removal techniques, you can bury what remains and let decay underground. However, it depends on your stump size and a few other factors.

You can find several methods to use here and a few tips for removing stumps when digging a stump by hand. (Learn How To Decorate A Tree Stump)

Digging Out the Stump

1. Dig the Roots

Dig next to the stump with a shovel, revealing the roots beneath the surrounding ground. Continue digging around the circumference of the stump until you’ve revealed all the tree’s major roots. To expose the roots as much as possible, dig deep on both sides of them.

Consider using a different root removal procedure if the roots appear large and deep, and uncovering them is challenging. You can make things easier by cleaning away dirt and exposing roots with a pressure washer while digging.

The digging method works well when you can uncover the whole stump and the root ball to almost the tips.

2. Cut the Roots

Cut the roots into pieces with a lopper or a root saw, depending on their size.

Cut them up into small bits and dig up as much as you can. As you go, toss them into a pile, removing as much of the root system as possible.

It’s possible to cut the roots with an ax, but it’s not suggested because it can shatter dangerously if it hits a rock, and it’ll usually get trapped between roots if they’re not entirely exposed.

Pulling major roots

3. Pull the Roots

Remove the remaining embedded roots from the earth to their very tips with a grub hoe. Make more cuts as you go as it makes lifting from the earth easier. Continue pulling major roots until you’ve removed all of them before going back to pull everything else from the dirt.

4. Remove the Stump

You should be able to detach the stump once most of the largest roots have been treated. Before pulling the stump out, you may need to dig underneath it and cut more roots with the shovel.

After you’ve removed all the wood, chop it up and add it to your compost pile.

5. Fill In The Hole

Filling the hole with loam or sawdust is the last step. If you don’t do so, the ground surrounding the hole may collapse, leaving a massive depression in your yard.

The ground will sink in a little as the loam or sawdust settles, so you may need to keep adding material to the area every few months until the ground remains stable.

Burning Your Stump

It is feasible to buy a powdered tree stump removal product that is designed to break down the wood fiber of stumps and leave them porous. The porous wood will then absorb a flammable liquid easily. (Learn How To Burn A Stump)

If using kerosene and you can do so in your neighborhood, you’ll find it an affordable way to remove a tree stump.

1. Is it Legal?

Check to see if burning the stump is legal. There may be limits on open fires in your area,
especially if you live in an area with draughts. Before you begin, check with your local fire department to see if burning your stump is permitted.

2. Build a Fire

Burning a fire on top of the stop with the chopped-up tree you just cut down as fuel could be beneficial. The wood should be laid out on top of the stump. More wood should be placed around the stump so that it is in the center of the fire. Drill a center hole and fill it with charcoal before soaking in kerosene.

The stump will take several hours to burn. Continue to add wood to the fire to keep it huge and hot. Maintain the fire for as long as it takes for the stump to catch fire and burn to the ground.

3. Remove the Ash

After the stump has burned, shovel the ash out of the hole. You can add ash to your garden or your compost heap as it contains lots of lime and potassium.

4. Fill the Hole

Loam or sawdust can be used in place of ash to fill the hole. When the area collapses, keep adding matter every few months.

Chemical Stump Remover

Chemical removal is more straightforward than removal by hand, yet there is some labor involved.

Drilling holes in the stump

1. Drill Holes into the stump

Drill several holes in the stump’s top with a big drill bit. Because the stump will absorb the chemicals through these holes, make sure you drill holes evenly spaced.

2. Apply Stump Remover

Most stump removers contain powdered potassium nitrate, which reacts to soften and rot faster with the wood. Check the package for instructions on how to apply the stump remover to the stump.

The holes will make it easier for your stump-removal solution to penetrate the stump itself. The more thoroughly you drill, the more likely the stump will decompose completely.

The potassium nitrate degrades the wood chemically while entering the whole stump. Keep pets and children away from the stump as it is being treated.

3. Monitor Your Stump Removal Chemical

The potassium nitrate will take around 3-4 weeks to rot the stump fully. After that, it is ready for removal. After 4 weeks, check if the stump is soft and rotting.

Here, some quick work ax action and elbow grease can remove the surface of the stump. Afterward, use a mattock to dislodge the weakened root system.

4. Chop the Stump

Use an ax or a shovel to chop up the softened stump. As you hack away at the bits, remove them. Continue until the stump is flattened.

Remove a tree stump by burning

5. Burn

Build a fire and let it burn all the way down over the remaining softened wood. You’ll be able to get rid of the stump and its roots this way.

6. Fill In the Hole

After the fire has burned out, dig out what’s left and throw it away. Loam or similar filler, such as sawdust, should be used to fill the hole. Over the next few months, continue to add more material until the ground is level.

You can achieve much the same by adding a high nitrogen fertilizer instead of using potassium nitrate, yet this could take longer to have the same impact.

Some individuals also use muriatic acid to pour in the deep holes, yet this is harmful and toxic when breathed in.

The straightforward part could be pulling out the stump if you did your work correctly. If you did all the cutting, stump removal should be easy, even if you need a little tow from a vehicle.

However, the filling of the hole can take more work as the resulting crater needs filling, and you have to compact the soil.

Even if you use a stump grinder, you can find a use for a wood chipper to help clean up the mess from the larger limbs. Wood chips you can use as mulch, and sawdust you can use to help fill the hole.

The hole will gradually settle when you fill it with earth, and you can use grass seed here or wait until it has settled. One way to deal with the mulched area is to add flowerpots to hide the area that could sink until it levels, and then you can match it to the rest of your lawn.

No matter how you remove a tree stump, the hole filling and lawn repair will be the same.

How To Remove A Tree Stump By Hand

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