Homemade solutions for tree stump removal

Updated March 23, 2017

When a tree gets cut down, it will leave behind a stump that often produces new shoots. Just cutting back the shoots may not be enough to take care of the problem. The stump can be removed or destroyed and underground roots should be dealt with. Small stumps can usually be removed easily, but removal of larger stumps often involves expensive contractors, large equipment or potentially hazardous chemicals. However, there are homemade solutions for tree stump removal that can prevent regrowth that use items found in most homes.

Removing small stumps

Small stumps can be removed using little more than a shovel or mattock. Dig around the stump and sever any roots with the blade of the shovel or mattock. Pull the stump out and shake off any loose soil. Add more soil to fill in the hole, and plant over it with sod or grass seed.

Natural decay

Consider letting tree stumps decay naturally. The process takes a long time, but requires little effort. Use an axe or saw to cut tree stumps as close as possible to the ground. For smaller tree stumps a shovel may be used to dig around the stump to find the root system. Sever as many connecting roots as possible to prevent new shoots from growing back. Larger stumps should be scored with a saw across the tops and sides to speed decay. New shoot may grow during the spring and summer, but may be simply be cut off or mowed over.

Smother the stump

Prevent light and air from reaching the stump. After the stump has been cut close to the ground, cover the stump with a plastic tarpaulin to smother the tree and prevent growth. Alternatively, a plastic bucket can be placed over the tree stump and hammered into the ground. If done properly, the stump should be nearly flush with the surrounding area. Cover the plastic with mulch or soil to camouflage the area. Over time the stump underneath will soften, break apart and effectively disappear into the surrounding landscape.

Speeding decomposition

Help the tree stump decompose faster with a homemade solution of salt. Many landscapers use chemicals to kill to speed up decomposition on tree stumps that won't be removed with grinders or pulled out with machinery. Using rock salt is a simple, cost effective, and ecologically sound way of doing the same thing. Drill holes throughout the tree stump and pour rock salt into them liberally. Mulch over the area after the salt has been applied.


Burn the stump out. Depending on local laws and the placement of the tree stump, burning may be an option. Individuals must contact their local fire brigade for local ordinances involving stump burning and the proper method of doing so. But, it usually involves soaking the stump before burning to prevent the stump from exploding. Tree stumps may smoulder for days under the ground even after visible burning has diminished. The process is time consuming, as the stumps must be constantly monitored for safety reasons.

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About the Author

Jeannie Knudson is an avid traveler with a love for the written word. She has been a freelance writer for over 15 years and holds a Bachelor's Degree in English from the University of Northern Iowa. She enjoys sharing her knowledge and experiences on eHow and