5 Dumb and Smart Ways to Deal With Stumps

August 9, 2015 | By | Comments (24)
Stump Removal

Grumpy’s Mom turns a tree stump into work of art. Photo: Mondo Bender

If you have big trees, sooner or later one is going to croak, forcing you to cut it down to a stump. What should you do with this stump? Leave it, remove it, donate it to charity? Here are five options. Some make good sense, some make little sense, and some show whoever tries them has no sense at all.

So let’s say you have a stump like this one that’s several feet wide. What’s the first dumb way you could try to remove it?

Stump Remopval

Photo: treedoctoraugusta.com

Chain it to the towing rig on the back of your truck or SUV, throw that baby into 4-wheel drive, and gun it! Then go buy another truck, because you’ve just destroyed this one.

OK, what’s another way to deal with a stump that’s not nearly as dumb as the method above and yet holds great appeal to the homeowner with the extra Y-chromosome who just blew up his transmission?

Stump removal

Photo: ifunn.co

Burn it! Yep, just drill some holes into the stump or use a chainsaw to cut a pentagram into the surface. Then pour fuel oil into the holes or grooves, let it soak in for a couple of days, and light that sucker up! What could possibly go wrong??? (Let me be clear — unless you live on a farm, private island, or a passing asteroid, this is a really bad idea. Pentagrams scare people.)

All right, Grumpy, if we can’t yank ’em out or burn ’em out, what do we do with them? One alternative is to transform them into works of art. See my dear, old Mom up there at the top? She decided to pile rocks around the stump in her back yard to create a miniature Stonehenge. It works too! As the sun rises on the summer solstice, a beam of sunlight splits two of the rocks and shines directly on her garbage can. I got weak in the knees when I saw it.

Here’s some more stump art for those of you skilled with a chainsaw.

Stump removal

Photo: tree-stumps-removed.co.ik

Just for the record, I would have removed the drink can from the shot. Soft drinks have been linked to skyrocketing rates of squirrel obesity and Type-2 diabetes.

Now For the Nitty-Gritty
OK, you don’t want to trash your truck, immolate your yard, or decorate your stump. You still want it gone, though. You can do it the painfully slow, cheap way or the quick, more costly way. Let’s discuss the slow way first — a chemical stump remover.

Stump Removal

Photo: Hi-Yield

There are two kinds of chemical stump removers. The first, like the Hi-Yield, contains potassium nitrate and slowly decomposes the stump from the inside out. This is for dead stumps only. You drill holes into the stump, pour the stuff in according to label directions, wait for a year or more for the stump to rot, and then yank it out using your new truck.

For freshly cut stumps that are sending up shoots, potassium nitrate is useless. You need to apply a product with a herbicide called triclopyr that will be translocated to the roots and kill them, like this one.

Stump Removal

Photo: Fertilome

After that, just wait years and years until termites finish off the stump.

Time to stop fooling around. The best way to remove a stump is to use a stump grinder like this one. It uses a powerful engine and saw to quickly turn a stump and its major roots into sawdust before your gleeful, little eyes.

Stump Removal

Photo: okeechobee.ifas.efl.edu

While you can rent stump grinders from equipment rental places, unless you’ve used one before and still have both legs, Grumpy strongly advises you hire a tree service to do this. The average cost for grinding a stump is $2 to $3 per inch of trunk diameter with a minimum of $100. Your body parts cost more.


  1. Max Jones

    I really enjoyed your article about ways not to go about stump removal. My grandfather used to tell us how he would burn out stumps to get rid of them, but like you said, its not the best idea. I think I would rather call a specialist to come and do the stump removal job for me, so I just don’t need to worry about it!

    April 28, 2017 at 1:21 pm
  2. Caden Dahl

    I like how you mentioned that grinding is a good way to remove a stump. I had to have one of my maples cut down last summer, and I’ve decided that I want the stump gone and out of the way. I’ve never used a stump grinder before, and I’m worried about doing something wrong or causing an injury, so maybe it would be best for me to hire a professional to come and grind it.

    March 10, 2017 at 1:41 pm
  3. Lillian Schaeffer

    This is some great information, and I appreciate your suggestion to hire a professional to grind your stump. I had to have one of my trees removed because it was a safety hazard, but now I’d like to get rid of the stump as well. It sounds like grinding is a really effective and quick method, so I’ll definitely look into having a professional come and do it. Thanks for the great post!

    August 22, 2016 at 2:35 pm
  4. Jade Brunet

    Thank you for this humorous article of what to do with remaining tree stumps. Although it seems like logic, I have heard several stories of people trying to remove stumps by pulling them out with a truck. We have several pine trees in our yard that will soon be cut down, we will be sure to entirely remove each stump. Thanks again.

    July 22, 2016 at 9:40 am
  5. Kyle O’Ren

    It looks like hiring a professional to remove the stump is the way to go. I personally have tried the chemicals and found that they take long enough for me to stop caring about the stump by the time it’s ready to be removed. I’ve got one more stump that needs taking out, and I’m going to hire someone to do it.

    June 10, 2016 at 7:32 am
  6. jordan

    Great post! Thanks for this!

    June 9, 2016 at 11:06 am
  7. Kyler Brown

    I have some stumps in my yard that I’d like to get rid of. I really appreciated this post because I wasn’t sure how to go about removing them. As much as I like art, I probably will just want to use the stump grinder and get the darn things out of my yard. Thanks for sharing!

    May 19, 2016 at 9:39 am
  8. David Hawkins

    I had no idea that you could actually burn a stump out of the ground. For me and my yard, that might be a little dangerous since I have so much brush around. I might just hire a great service to take care of the stump for me. Thanks for the awesome tips!

    May 18, 2016 at 8:24 am
  9. Charles Kemp

    I have seen more people use stump grinders or the stump killer. They thing you have to be careful of is regrowth. Sometimes the stump will start growing back. If you get the stump removed, you won’t have to worry about it.

    March 22, 2016 at 4:50 pm
  10. Patricia Anderson

    Burning it would be so easy! I thought we were going to have to hook up some chains to a truck or something and pull it out. I’m glad I found this because burning it would be a lot easier solution for tree stump removal. Do you have to chainsaw a pentagram into the surface or can you do any shape to get the fire started?

    March 21, 2016 at 3:30 pm
  11. myirishheartblog

    I recently had to had a company come and remove my tree stump. However, if I had the talent, then I would have used a chainsaw to creat something with it. I realy like the squirrel and can’t imagine how someone was able to carve that into a stump. I would definitely would like to see other designs too, but do you know whether or not there are more cool carved stumps like that? http://mitreecare.com/tree-services.html

    February 5, 2016 at 8:45 am
  12. raylinsutter

    We recently chopped down six giant trees on our property to clear a field and are planning on having some tree stump removal done. My sons asked for permission to burn them down but I declined. I was afraid they’d set the whole property on fire. However, I did tell them that they could make some tree stump are out of one of them but after trying at it for about an hour they gave up. http://www.precisiontreecare.com/tree-care

    September 14, 2015 at 7:51 am
  13. Nancy Busey

    OMG. My ex-husband’s method is not listed. After digging around the stump a little, he decided to use water pressure to remove the dirt from around the remaining roots. He probably would have eventually used the vehicle method to finish removing the stump, but I had to take him to the ER before it got that far

    August 13, 2015 at 5:15 pm
  14. Barbara D

    Love your mom and the fact she has on pearls while gardening – classic southern lady.

    August 11, 2015 at 7:27 pm
  15. Priscilla Ramsey

    grumpy – I live in the NE section of TN. Something happened to many, but not all the crepe myrtles in town, some damaged, some not. What happened? All mine were damaged and had to be cut back even though they were well established and very large but the one next door is now in full bloom. Also, none of our hydrangeas bloomed this year. Nice full bushes, but few or no blooms. Any ideas?

    August 11, 2015 at 10:06 am
  16. Marylou Krueger

    Build a fire pit over it…

    August 10, 2015 at 6:43 am
  17. lou

    Build a fire pit over it….

    August 10, 2015 at 6:43 am
  18. Susan Richter

    I turned an old crumbling trunk into a Fairy Garden/House!

    August 10, 2015 at 6:37 am
  19. Christie LaGrange

    My stump grew a Charley Brown tree and I want the ugly thing gone. Need husband to get with the picture that the stump tree must go. Not a pretty thing.

    August 10, 2015 at 6:26 am
  20. Ann

    Grumpy, you’ve made me smile even before finishing my first cup of coffee! Thanks. Ann
    P.S. Your mom is great

    August 10, 2015 at 5:56 am
  21. L. D.

    You could also let honey suckles grow over the stump. I have one growing over the stump in my back yard. Every spring it produces and abundance of sweet smelling flowers.

    August 10, 2015 at 3:28 am
  22. Steve Asbell

    Or you could make a vertical garden, which is especially easy in zone 9 because I can grow bromeliads! On the other hand, the burning pentagram would be a superb way to vanquish Door-to-door evangelists…

    August 9, 2015 at 5:54 pm
  23. Brooke

    Grumpy, I had some crape myrtle stumps ground, but the roots are sending out shoots all over. Advice?

    August 9, 2015 at 3:26 pm
  24. dianne

    Grumpy, could you hollow out a stump and use it as a planter – fo sweet potato vine perhaps?

    August 9, 2015 at 10:30 am

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