How to Get Rid of a Sycamore Tree Stump

Updated February 21, 2017

The sycamore tree is common throughout much of the United States. It is also one of the largest trees found in deciduous forests, reaching heights up to 60 to 80 feet. Some sycamore trees in the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys have even been known to reach 175 feet in height and 14 feet in diameter. Due to the sycamore tree's size and its equally large root system, removing its stump will take some time and effort if you're removing it manually. Chemically removing the stump will prove less laborious.

Dig a trench around the perimeter of the sycamore stump using a heavy-duty shovel. The trench should extend around the entire stump. However, do not dig too close to the stump as you won't be able to cut through the thicker roots.

Using a landscaping bar or pick axe to dig through the thickest roots. Cut as many roots as possible. The more roots you're able to cut, the easier it will be to lever the stump out of the ground.

Thrust the landscaping bar into the trench, angling it beneath the stump. Drive the bar under the stump around the entire trench, levering the stump upward at various points. If necessary, cut through more roots or dig deeper in order to reach beneath the centre of the stump with the tip of the landscaping bar.

Pull the sycamore stump out of the ground using your hands or the landscaping. If the stump is too heavy to lift, have someone help you pull it out by hand, or wrap a chain around the stump and hook it to a 4x4 pickup. Once hooked to the truck, engage the lowest gear and slowly pull the stump out of the ground.

Drill five to six 1-inch holes on the surface of the stump. Place the holes near the edge and drill straight down to a depth of roughly 12 inches using a 12-inch extension drill bit.

Drill an equal number of 1-inch holes with the 12-inch extension into the side of the stump. Drill holes at a 45-degree angle so that they intersect with the hole drilled from above.

Pour granules of chemical stump remover into the 1-inch holes on the top of the stump, then fill a bucket with water and pour the water into the same holes. Add only enough water to fill each hole to the top.

Wait six weeks to allow the chemical reaction to weaken/soften the wood, then chop the stump into pieces with a sharp hand axe until it is flush with the ground.


Use work gloves and work boots (preferably with steel toes) to protect your hands and feet while working.

Things You'll Need

  • For Manual Removal:
  • Heavy-duty shovel
  • Pick axe
  • Landscaping bar
  • 4x4 pickup and tow chains (for stumps that are too heavy to lift)
  • Work gloves
  • Work boots
  • For Chemical Removal:
  • Chemical stump remover
  • Cordless drill
  • 1-inch spade-style drill bit
  • 12-inch bit extension
  • Bucket
  • Hand axe
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About the Author

Arthur Barnhouse has written numerous short stories, contributed content to various websites and was an invited speaker at a university symposium on creative writing. He began writing in 2002 and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Pittsburgh. Barnhouse has driven across the United States numerous times and draws upon his travel experiences in his writing.