Occasionally trees become unhealthy and need to be cut down. Removing dead trees prior to winter is important: winter storms with high winds, heavy snow or ice can knock trees down, destroying fences, homes, and other expensive property. It is always a good idea to call a tree service professional to remove trees and ensure that the trees are cut down safely and properly. Once a tree is removed the roots of that tree begin to die within days or possibly weeks and what is left is a stump as well as the roots.

Removing the stump can be labor intensive but here are five ways of removing this obstruction from your yard.

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Decay and Rot

If you are in no hurry the simplest method of removal is completely natural: cover the stump with organic material, like decaying leaves or mulch, and allow the stump to start rot naturally. You can drill holes into the stump to encourage the rotting process. Over time the wood will become soft and crumbled and will be easy to rake into the surrounding soil.

Manual Removal

This method is labor-intensive but avoids the chemical or fire dangers of other methods. You’ll need a shovel, hoe or other digging tools as well as a chainsaw. Start digging around the base of the stump to excavate the area under the soil level, about 1 to 2 feet below the surface. As you dig further you’ll see where the stump attaches to the roots and you can sever the connection. Once the roots are detached from the stump they will continue to rot and decay.


Create a small kindling fire directly on top of the tree stump and carefully monitor the fire until the stump itself is on fire. A tree stump might continue to blaze and smolder for weeks and must be monitored carefully. Do not attempt this method if the stump is located near any structures or buildings. This method of removal may not be legal so check with your local fire codes.

Chemical Removal

Tree stumps will rot and deteriorate faster with chemicals. First start by drilling many holes into the stump – this is where the chemicals will go. Specific chemicals like potassium nitrate, sulfuric acid, nitric acid or sodium bisulfite are used to kill the roots (or look for an off-the-shelf product like RootX ). Use caution when pouring dangerous chemicals directly onto your property, as it can pose a problem for children, pets, and wildlife.

Augers and Grinders

Gas-powered grinders can be rented and the carbide teeth on the underside cut and grind the tree stump. Keep grinding the stump until you are about 6-12 inches below the surface. An auger, with its pointed head, is used to cut and grind roots that have breached pipes.

Book a Tree Service

For professional advice and service be sure to check out Porch.com and search for “tree service” or “root removal.”