The Best Way to Rot Out a Tree Stump

Written by lisa wampler
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The Best Way to Rot Out a Tree Stump
Trees can regrow even after being cut to the ground. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

After cutting down a tree, it is important to remove or kill the stump to stop the tree from regrowing. The process of pulling a stump out of the ground can end up being long and tiring, depending on the size of the root ball buried underground. An alternative to pulling the stump out of the ground is to rot the stump. This will kill the root system and prevent regrowth.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Electric drill
  • 1-inch drill bit
  • Shovel
  • Herbicide
  • Stump removal chemical

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  1. 1

    Drill several holes through the top and sides of the tree stump, using a 1-inch or larger drill bit and an electric drill. Drill into the stump the full length of the drill bit. This breaks up the tree and allows more moisture into the stump.

  2. 2

    Dig around the base of the tree stump until the root ball is exposed. Do not attempt to dig out the entire root ball. Exposing the roots is all that's necessary.

  3. 3

    Boil enough water to fill the holes in the stump and to pour on the roots. Boiling water shocks the root system and keeps the roots saturated. Repeat daily or every other day until the stump rots.

  4. 4

    Pour a chemical herbicide into the drilled holes in place of the water each day for seven days, followed by a stump remover chemical that has a high concentration of potassium nitrate. Rotting the stump with chemicals is faster than boiling water but risks killing desired vegetation around the tree.

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