How to Kill Sycamore Tree Stumps

Updated February 21, 2017

The sycamore tree (Platanus occidentalis) is found in many parts of the United States. These trees are sun-loving and spread to form wide crowns. After a sycamore dies, it can leave a stump with a wide spread of underground roots. There are a number of different ways you can kill sycamore tree stumps and also remove them at the same time.

Clear off as much of the new growth on the stump as possible with a pair of hedge clippers or snippers. Cut the growth as close to the boot as possible.

Attach a spade bit to a power drill. Drill a series of holes around the top face of the tree stump. Repeat the process along the sides of the tree stump. Angle the holes on the sides of the stump so that they meet the holes coming down through the top face of the stump.

Insert chemical stump killer into the holes you drilled. Pour water into the holes to form a paste inside. Keep children and animals away from the stump as the chemical works. After approximately four to six weeks, the sycamore stump should become soft and spongy enough to chop up with an axe.

Rent a stump grinder to grind the stump down to below the surface of the ground. These machines are large, usually about the size of a riding mower, and use a sander on the end of a hydraulic arm to sand down the stump. Don the proper safety equipment, such as a hardhat, gloves and goggles, before manoeuvring the stump grinder in position. Lower the grinder arm and run it over the stump until it is below the surface of the ground.

Burn the stump out by using kerosene. Soak the stump in kerosene and allow it to soak in for a period of weeks. Put a match or blowtorch to the stump until it begins to smoulder. It will take a period of weeks for the stump to burn all the way through, so you will need to keep a careful eye on the sycamore stump if using this method.


Always use caution when working with chemicals, such as stump removers. Follow all instructions from the manufacturer when using heavy equipment such as stump grinders. Do not use gasoline for burning out a stump because it will burn too hot and can be dangerous. Don't try to burn down the stump during the summer if you live in an area prone to brush fires.

Things You'll Need

  • Hardhat
  • Safety gloves
  • Safety goggles
  • Hedge trimmers
  • Snippers
  • Power drill
  • Spade bit
  • Chemical stump remover
  • Stump grinder
  • Kerosene
  • Match
  • Axe
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About the Author

Nathan McGinty started writing in 1995. He has a Bachelor of Science in communications from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master of Arts in international journalism from City University, London. He has worked in the technology industry for more than 20 years, in positions ranging from tech support to marketing.