Various Tree Stump Removal Methods

By: Rodney Melvin


Felling trees is a relatively easy process; removing stumps is a different matter. Unlike felling which only involves cutting a tree, stump removal takes time and requires following set techniques to make the process simpler and faster to complete.

Most landowners would rather have stumps removed because they take up precious space, preventing the construction or installation of structures. They're also eyesores even if vegetation grows on them. The biggest problem, however, is that they're hazardous and can cause injuries especially when hidden under foliage.

Most stump removal methods should be undertaken by professionals especially if equipment is used. Take a look at four common techniques.

By hand

Removing stumps by hand works only on small, old or rotting stumps. A chainsaw, digging bar, pick mattock, an axe, length of chain and a vehicle with four-wheel-drive are needed.

The use of improper tools will render the operation useless or half-done. Remember, the stump may not be alive but its roots still spread a good distance so it's difficult to make it give. What has to be done, then, is to cut the major roots and the exposed ones with an axe or chainsaw. They can be pried using the pick mattock and the digging bar.

As the roots are pried, they loosen to make it easier to uproot. The chain is securely tied around the stump and connected to the vehicle which pulls it.

By grinding

Grinding is a popular removal technique but should not be attempted by amateurs. The equipment can be rented if hiring professional help is not desired.

Like the hand technique, the roots will have to be axed while stones and other obstacles are cleared. A chainsaw is used to cut the stump further to make grinding easier and less time-consuming.

The grinder will be difficult to use for amateurs so it's a good idea to have someone from the rental company demonstrate the process. Professional workers charge between $100 and $200 to grind and haul the stump.

By burning

Burning is an inexpensive way to remove stumps and is a common technique applied in regions that don't have access to stump grinders.

In this method, the stump isn't simply lit. Holes are bored into it and filled with potassium nitrate. Water is poured into the holes to dissolve the chemical and scrap wood is placed on top of the stump before ignition.

Drilling holes and burning the inside of the stump ensures that the entire piece burns well. Remnants are cleared and vegetation allowed to grow over the area if construction or installation of structures is not immediately required.

By chemicals

Chemical removal is another technique that is cost-effective. However, it takes time for the stump to break down.

Potassium nitrate is filled into holes drilled not in the stump but around it. Water is poured into the holes and the mix is left to sit for about a month or more depending on the state of decay of the stump. The waiting period ends when the stump becomes spongy and can be torn using an axe.

To facilitate more rotting, the stump can be doused with kerosene and made to sit for another couple of weeks before axing it. Or, it can be burned to make removal of debris easier.

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