Stumps can be unsightly in a well-manicured garden. They can also cause tree fungus problems in existing trees, so stump removal is at times a necessary challenge. Once the decision is made to meet the challenge head-on, choices of how to remove the stump have to be made. If time is not a constraint to ridding your yard of a tree stump, here’s one method of removal that will let nature do the bulk of the work for you.
Use a chainsaw and cut the stump down as close to the ground as you can. Be careful and keep the chainsaw’s teeth from striking the ground as it will dull the chain. Use a wide drill bit and drill several holes into the stump as deep as the bit can go. The wider and deeper you can drill the holes, the better. Fill the holes first with water and then fill the holes again with a fertilizer high in nitrogen content.
You will want to use a fertilizer with an NPK rating of at least 45-0-0. Thoroughly wet down the stump and the ground around it. Cover the stump with a heavy plastic sheet or tarp to help hold in the moisture. Cover the plastic sheet with organic mulch or hay and thoroughly wet the down mulch covering with water.
To help keep the plastic from blowing away you may want to weight it down further with some bricks or heavy rocks. Periodically remove the plastic covering, add more water and nitrogen, soak down the stump, reapply the plastic covering and mulch and soak the mulch again.
Eventually, time and nature will take care of your stump problem as the combination of moisture and nitrogen will break down the properties of the stump.
If you need a stump removed faster than the above method then one choice is to remove it by hand. Stump removal by manual methods, while difficult, can be achieved with the use of proper tools. You will need a good heavy spade and a “landscape bar” also called a rock bar”. The landscape bar is a very heavy, solid steel bar with a flat blade on the bottom and a rounded top.
If the stump is rather tall, cut it down to no more than about 4 feet in height. This will give you some leverage when it’s time to pull it from the ground. Use the spade and dig a trench around the base of the stump, exposing as many roots as possible. Stab the landscape bar down into the ground to cut as many of the roots around the perimeter of the stump as you can.
As you stab the bar into the ground, wiggle the bar back and forth to slowly work it under the center of the stump. When you feel the stump begin to move, push on the top of it, rocking the stump in a back and forth motion to help the stump release from its hold in the ground.
If removing the stump manually is not your choice, removing it mechanically may be a better way. Stump grinding machines have been formulated to grind away a stump with the use of a large flywheel and cutting teeth.
The cutter head moves across the top of the stump and grinds it away a little at a time. Stump grinding machines are available in a multitude of sizes and are perfectly suited to remove the top of the stump down to the roots.
Remember, always use appropriate precautions when using machinery or sharp and heavy garden tools. Steel-toed boots can save you a nasty foot or toe injury and gloves and safety goggles are a must if using a stump grinding machine.