Best Way to Remove a Small Tree Stump

If you’ve been busy cutting down trees, you might have a yard of tree stumps that need to be removed. We’re going to share some different options for the best way to remove a small tree stump from your yard.

You don’t want to just leave those stumps in your yard. Not only does it not look nice, but you can also be attracting insects like termites and wasps that you don’t really want hanging around your yard.

Some of these stump remover methods are easier than others, but all of them will require some time and patience on your part. They can also be dangerous, so be sure to use caution when trying any of them. 

5 Different Methods to Remove a Tree Stump 

There are a few different methods you can try yourself to remove a small tree stump with just some basic tools. We’re going to talk about five different stump removal methods you can try before you hire a professional:

  • Burning
  • Potassium Nitrate or Epsom Salts
  • Chemical Removal Products 
  • Digging 
  • Stump Grinding

tree stump

These manual tree stump removal techniques work best on stumps that have been cut for a while – usually a year or more. They won’t work as well on freshly cut tree trunks. They’re all also going to take some time to see results. None of these are “easy” or a “quick fix” to get rid of your stump. 

If you don’t feel confident or if you need to remove a large tree stump, we recommend hiring a professional instead of trying to remove the stump on your own. Our tree removal experts have all the proper equipment and expertise necessary to remove a tree stump with no hassle and no mess. 

Burning Method to Remove a Tree Stump

Using this method when removing tree stumps can be a dangerous one and also takes some time. You’ll start by drilling holes into the stump, but instead of using chemicals, you’re going to pour kerosene down the holes as the stump remover. Do not use gasoline to do this. Once the kerosene is in the holes, wait for the stump to absorb all of the liquid. After a few weeks when the kerosene has absorbed into the stump, drop a match in the holes. The entire stump is going to smolder and this entire process can take several days.

Keep your hose nearby in case the fire spreads beyond the stump. It’s best to check with your local fire department before you start burning anything to make sure there are no burn bans or anything in place. You should also remove any debris like dry leaves before trying this method.

Potassium Nitrate or Epsom Salt Method to Remove a Tree Stump

Start out by using a chainsaw to cut the tree trunk down as close to the ground as possible. Then drill holes into the top of the stump. Use your hose or a bucket to fill the holes and areas around the tree with water. Add the potassium nitrate or epsom salt to the holes. 

Once the tree stump and ground are saturated, cover the area with a plastic tarp. This will help keep the area and tree stump moist which will help to break down the stump faster. Check on the tree stump periodically to see if you need to add more water, potassium nitrate, or epsom salt.

Epsom salts can speed the decay process up by 6-12 months. This is because epsom salts have magnesium and sulfur. Magnesium and sulfur can be beneficial for plants, but when used in high quantities, it pulls all the moisture out of your tree.

This is a great, more natural method than using a tree stump removal product. It still helps move the rotting process along, but some products can be harmful to your yard. If you do decide to purchase a stump removal product to remove a stump manually, keep an eye out for harmful chemicals. You can definitely use these to remove tree stumps, but just make sure to avoid getting it on your other plants.

While this method works on any size stumps, larger stumps are going to take a lot longer to break down than smaller tree stumps.

Chemical Products Method to Remove a Tree Stump

This method to remove your tree stump will require you to use a power drill and large drill bit to drill large holes into the top and sides of the tree trunk. You’ll use it in conjunction with some stump removal chemicals to help speed up the stump’s decaying process.

You can purchase products that use chemicals to kick the decay process into high gear. Normally, it takes three to seven years for a tree stump to rot. However, many of these chemical stump remover products will help make a tree stump rot within about four weeks. You’ll still need some patience, but it’s definitely much faster.

First, you’ll want to use a chainsaw to cut the stump down to as low to ground level as you possibly can when you’re removing a tree stump. Make sure you’re wearing plenty of safety gear, including goggles, gloves and protective clothing! 

Next, you’ll drill holes into the top of the tree stump. This is where you can put the chemicals. The holes should be large and close together. You’ll also want the holes to go deep into the stump to help remove as much of the stump as possible. 

After you drill the holes, follow the directions on the chemicals you’re using. Put the chemicals into the holes you’ve drilled and wait. Depending on what you’re using, you may also need to cover or water the stump during the breakdown process.

Using chemicals to remove the small tree trunks and stumps in your yard is a popular option. It’s best to use this method in an area where children and animals won’t have access to be sure they don’t come in contact with the chemicals. 

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Digging Up the Stump Method to Remove a Tree Stump

This method won’t take weeks to work, but it can take hours and is very labor intensive. Start by digging a hole around the remaining tree stump to expose all the roots of the tree you removed.  Use a digging bar and an axe to cut the stump from the tree root system in the ground.

Continue to work your way around the stump, cutting as many roots as possible – especially focusing on the major roots in the root ball. Continue digging and cutting until you’re able to remove the stump from the ground.

Be sure to be extra careful when cutting tree roots. Pieces of the roots can fly everywhere and it can be hard working down in the hole you’ve dug around the stump. Before making any cuts, be sure there’s nothing else in the way other than roots.

Once you’ve cut the roots all the way around the tree stump, it’s time to actually remove the stump from the hole in the ground. You may need a larger vehicle like a pick up truck or tractor and some chains to help remove the stump from the hole.

After the stump has been removed from the ground, you’ll need somewhere to put it. If you have a large piece of property, there might be another location on your property where you can put it. For homeowners who don’t have room to move the stump to (or don’t want to), you may be able to cut it up and dispose of the tree stump and roots in smaller pieces or take it to a local dump to be disposed of.

You’ll need some dirt to fill in the hole left behind by the tree stump. Once you’ve refilled it and packed the dirt down, sprinkle some grass seed on top and soon you won’t be able to tell where that tree was.

Stump Grinding to Remove Small Tree Stumps

When you’re trying to remove just one small tree stump, renting a stump grinder might not be your best choice. But if you’ve got multiple tree stumps to remove, grinding the tree stumps will probably be the quickest way to get rid of them. 

tree cuttingStump grinding works well on both small and large tree stumps. It’s a popular way to remove an unsightly stump from your yard and can be one of the fastest ways to remove stumps. A stump grinder is similar to a saw that you use to grind up the tree stump that’s still sticking out of the ground. It can be a loud and messy but effective way to remove your small tree stump. 

Contact your local home improvement store to look into the cost and options for renting a stump grinder. You may also need to rent a truck to get the grinder home and back to the store if you don’t have a vehicle that can transport it.

Start out by clearing out the area around the stump before you start grinding. Use your chainsaw to remove as much of the trunk as possible that’s above the ground. Move your stump grinder into place so the grinder wheel is directly over the stump. Turn the grinder on and continue to grind the stump down until it’s three to four inches below ground if possible. Repeat this process as needed until you’ve ground down as much of the tree stump as possible.

Fill the hole back in with the sawdust from grinding the tree stump. You can also add additional dirt to help cover the tree stump and fill the hole. Be sure to tamp down the dirt so you don’t have a hole in your yard as the dirt settles.

When Should I Call a Professional for Help? 

If you’re looking to get rid of your small tree stumps quickly and grinding the stumps yourself isn’t an option, it’s time to call a tree removal specialist to remove the stumps for you. 

A professional will also be able to remove the stumps in your yard as carefully as possible without having to use chemicals, fire, or waiting weeks or months for the stumps to decay on their own. Our team of tree experts will also use our years of experience to leave your landscaping intact as much as possible. 

While looking at the different stump removal options, you might think hiring a professional is out of your budget, but when you start looking at how much time and money you’ll spend on DIY removal methods, it might not be more expensive.

Before you call a tree service, you should know a few things to help get an accurate quote:

  • Have an idea of the size of the stumps you’re trying to remove. You don’t need to go measure the stumps in your yard, but knowing if they’re 6 inches in diameter or 24 inches in diameter will be helpful when getting quotes. 
  • Knowing approximately how many stumps you’re wanting to remove will also be helpful information. The price may vary depending on how many pesky stumps you’ve got to remove. 

Benefits of Hiring a Professional to Remove a Tree Stump

You can save both time and money when working with a professional to remove a tree stump. Our crew uses top-of-the-line equipment, so you don’t have to worry about renting or buying expensive stump grinders. 

Our team can remove both small and large stumps from your property, plus make sure that everything is properly disposed of so you don’t have to worry about rotting stumps attracting pests to your home.  Our team also cleans up any wood chips left behind so your garden looks as good as new!

United Tree Care can help you remove all of those pesky stumps in your yard. We can also help with the tree removal. Contact us today for a free estimate on your project. 

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