Removing a tree stump can be a formidable and sometimes costly task. If you prefer not to hire someone to grind the stump out and don't want to burn it out, blow it up, dig it up or pull it out, there's a chemical solution you can use to remove it. Although time-consuming, this homemade tree stump removal solution is inexpensive and requires far less hard labour than more speedy solutions.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Chain saw
- Heavy-duty drill
- 1-inch spade bit, 14 inches long minimum
- High nitrogen fertiliser
- Water hose
- Plastic Tarpaulin
- Tent stakes
- Organic mulch - tree bark, hay or peat moss
- Axe and shovel
- Gloves and eye protection
Cut off the stump as near to the ground as you can get it without damaging the chain saw by digging it into the dirt.
Drill a series of holes into the stump with a 1-inch spade bit. Space them 4 to 6 inches apart, 3 to 4 inches from the outside edge of the stump. Spacing will depend on the size of the stump, but you should drill at least five holes and, if the stump is large enough, one or two near the centre. Use a new sharp bit. If the wood is green, you will need a powerful drill to reach a depth of 12 inches. Drill each hole at a 45-degree angle so they meet at the bottom.
Pour water into the holes. Let the water subside, and then pour high-nitrogen fertiliser into the holes to refill them. The higher the nitrogen level the better. A straight-nitrogen fertiliser, 45-0-0 works best, but even natural fertilisers such as cow manure can be used.
Soak the ground all around the base of the stump with water, so that the ground is mushy.
Throw a plastic tarpaulin over the stump and the area around the stump and stake it down tightly with tent stakes.
Cover the tarp with 3 to 4 inches of mulch and wet it down. This will hold down the tarp and trap moisture beneath it. If you live in a windy climate, lay stones on the corners of the tarp to hold it down.
Wait for the stump to rot. The high nitrogen levels in the fertiliser, the moisture and heat generated by the mulch cover will accelerate rotting. Every month or so, pull up the tarp and soak the stump and surrounding ground. Pour water in the holes and add more nitrogen fertiliser. Recover the stump and rake the mulch back over it. Repeat until the stump crumbles in your hands.
Break up the rotted stump with an axe and shovel. The pieces should come apart easily. Lift them out of the hole.
Tips and warnings
- Wear gloves and eye protection when handling fertilisers.
- Avoid using weed and chemical plant killers on tree stumps as the root system may communicate the chemical to a wide area of the yard, killing grass, flowers and other trees. Fertiliser used in this method won't damage nearby plants; it will be significantly diluted before the roots carry it anywhere.
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