6 Ways to Remove Tree Stumps

A tree stump can be a real thorn in the side of your gardening project, or even just an eyesore drawing the ire of your neighbours. Fortunately, by following these simple steps, you can be rid of that tree stump in no time.

Before we start, keep in mind that removing a tree stump can be labour intensive. If you don’t want to undertake the project alone don’t worry. There are people that can help. Consider calling an arborist. What’s an arborist? Think of them like tree doctors. They provide many tree-related services. From simple tasks like pruning to heavier ones like stump removal, they do it all. Most cities have at least one arborist. You can call them and they will remove your stump for you. All you have to do is pick up a phone. Of course, this method will cost some money.

If you want to do the work yourself, don't mind breaking a sweat, or are looking to save a few dollars, then keep reading. You’ll have that stump gone in no time by following seven hopefully simple steps.

1. Do it yourself.

If the tree stump is located in the front of your property, near a road or a laneway, or some other vehicle-access, then you are in luck. The stump can be pulled using a chain and a truck or tractor. If this isn’t the case, the stump can still be removed but it will take a little more elbow-grease.

First dig out around the stump to expose the roots, especially the big ones. It’s easiest to do this using a long handled gardening shovel with a good sharp blade. Keeping a sharp edge on your digging and cutting tools is important. It will save you headache in the long run. Trust us, a sharp shovel is far easier to dig with.

If you’ve never sharpened anything before don’t worry. A simple flat file is all you need. Just run it along both sides of the blade of the shovel at a 30 degree angle until the edge is nice and sharp. Tree roots beware!

Of course, when sharpening anything, please exercise caution. Have an expert do this for you if you are unsure of the best way to do this yourself.

2. Water the stump.

Once the larger roots are exposed, water them with a garden hose to clear away any dirt, sand, or small rocks. This is a nice little trick that will save you trouble in the next step.

3. Use a chainsaw or axe.

Using a chainsaw or axe, cut the roots surrounding the tree. Be careful to avoid hitting any rocks or even the ground, as this will dull your chain or your axe quite quickly. If you took the time to wash away any debris, your tools will not dull as quickly, saving sharpening time.

As always, exercise caution when using any sharp tools. If you are uncomfortable using the necessary equipment, consider paying someone else to do the work.

4. Use a tractor and chain.

Once the stump is exposed and the roots are all cut, it is time for removal. This is the point where whether or not you can access the stump with a truck or tractor will make a difference.

If you are able, take a strong towing or high capacity chain and wrap one end firmly around the stump, then hook the other end to the hitch or undercarriage of the towing vehicle. Make sure the chain is strong enough to withstand the tension when pulling the stump: you will need a bigger chain for a bigger or more stubborn stump.

If the towing vehicle does not have a hitch, ensure that the chain is hooked to the steel frame of the vehicle and not the bumper or somewhere else, as this may cause damage to the vehicle.

With the towing vehicle, accelerate slowly to ease the stump out of its hole. Stand clear. Make sure no one stands near the stump in case the chain snaps. A flying chain can cause very serious injury, so be careful!

Take your time to rock the stump out. It might take some coaxing but patience is your friend. It is better to take it slow than to try too hard and snap your chain or damage your vehicle. If you have no success then you will need to remove it by hand. Read-on.

If you cannot use a vehicle to remove your stump, then you can still overcome your stump-related woes. It will just be a little more work is all! But you can do it.

5. Try a pry bar.

If you do not have access to a vehicle that can do this task for you, acquire a long steel pry-bar, making sure that it is at least feet long. You can buy these at most hardware stores, or even rent them from some equipment suppliers.

Using this bar, stick one end under the stump. Ensure that the pry-bar is well wedged below the body of the stump. Now, apply pressure on the other end to rock the stump out of its hole. The more weight you can apply on the bar the better your chance of success. Having a friend or two to help push on the bar can be of real use here. Again, you might need a little patience. As you rock the stump it should slowly loosen. At this point you can start back to the drawing board to clear out any extra dirt or roots that are exposed.

If this does not free the stump you have one final option, which is listed below!

6. Remove it in sections.

If the stump remains stuck you will have to remove it in sections. Using a chainsaw, cut the stump into as many pieces as possible and remove them. Cleaning out around the stump to prevent damage to your chainsaw is a very good idea.

You can also use a wood grenade to break up the stump into smaller pieces using a splitting-axe or maul. This is an ideal solution if you don’t have access to a chainsaw.

Maybe you’ve reached this point and decided it’s just too much hassle. If you just want to cover the stump over with grass or earth, you can cut the stump back as far as possible (using your chainsaw or wood grenade) and then bury it. Out of sight, out of mind, as they say!

Sure, removing a tree stump can be a daunting task. After all, you’re trying to undo what took a tree decades to grow. Be patient, you can do it. We’re rooting for you!

Top How to... Guides

Sorry. No data so far.