How to Dig Up a Tree Stump

Once a tree is past its prime or if it poses a hazard to your property, you are faced with the task of removing it.

Once it's cut down, you'll still have to deal with the stump!

Do you know how to dig up a tree stump? If not, do you know what other methods you can use to get rid of an ugly stump?

If you have an old (or new) tree stump in your yard that you need to get rid of, keep reading to learn more about the options you have before getting started. 

Why Remove a Tree Stump?

Even though trees are beautiful in their own right, they eventually may need to be chopped down. Afterward, they will leave behind a stump with roots that can become an issue.

While removing a tree stump right away is not always necessary, you won't want to leave it in the ground for too long once the tree is cut down.

Realistically, there isn't much of a reason to want to keep the stump anyway. It likely is an eyesore on your property and may even get in the way of a clean appearance on your lawn.

People could trip on the stump if they don't see it, so it might be a safety hazard in your yard. 

If the stump eventually becomes overgrown with grass or weeds around the stump, you may not be able to see it as easily when mowing your lawn either.

Tree stump removal isn't as easy as pulling the stump out of the ground. Tree roots are very strong, so should know the proper way to deal with the issue before you start digging up your lawn.

Main Problems Related to Tree Stumps on Your Property

Some of the unavoidable problems related to leaving the tree stump are where it includes decay or fungus and regrowth of the tree. 

A tree stump will take the nutrients of plants that are near it. It will decay over time and can breed fungi that will infect those nearby plants, especially trees, at the same time. This could lead to you needing to chop down more of the trees on your property if they become damaged.

Decayed stumps are also susceptible to different pests, like termites, beetles, wasps, snakes, or ants.

All of these can damage your home in one way or another. Getting rid of them can also be expensive and if they caused lasting damage, it may take a lot of time as well.

Another problem to consider is that the tree that was cut down can eventually grow back from the stump. Trees store energy in their roots during photosynthesis and using that, the stump can produce a very awkward tree that could be more of a nuisance than the first one was!

If you've got an old stump and have been experiencing one or both of these main problems, you need to take care of the stump right away.

Before you do anything, it's important to learn how to pull a stump out of the ground correctly to make sure that the problem is solved.

Removing Your Own Tree Stump at Home

The first thing to know is that there are several ways to remove a tree stump and depending on the type of tree that was there, one method may be more effective than another.

The second thing to consider is that if you're unable to remove the tree stump on your own, you can hire professional services to have it taken care of for you. Not only are these professionals experienced in getting rid of unsightly stumps, but they also have the best tools and equipment needed to get the job done. 

Know that there are permits and requirements that must be met in certain areas before a tree can be removed. 

If you want to give it a try yourself first, there are a few things that you'll need to know to keep yourself safe and increase the chances of success.

Considerations Before You Get Started

Think about how old your tree was before it was cut down. Older tree stumps are easier to remove.

Alternatively, smaller tree stumps are a lot easier to remove than large, wide tree stumps.

It's important to consider how many stumps you need to be removed as well. Removing one or two tree stumps may require a different method than removing many tree stumps at a time. 

Method One: How to Dig Out a Stump 

This method is most appropriate for people that want to remove an old tree stump that is small. If the tree was diseased, that will make this method easier as well.

The tools that you'll need will include:

  • Shovel
  • Ax
  • Chainsaw
  • Pick mattock
  • A truck or other vehicle
  • Chain
  • Power washer (optional)

The first thing you'll need to do is use the chainsaw or other saw and remove lower branches that may be on the trunk. After this, you'll want to remove the top part of the trunk and keep the bottom remaining intact. 

Use your shovel and pick mattock, as well as the digging bar, to get at the roots surrounding the stump. You can use a power washer here to rinse away dirt and find additional roots, but this is an optional step. 

Cut at the large roots with an ax. Try to push the trunk up after some of the roots are cut and expose more roots to cut with the ax. Continue this until the whole trunk is uprooted. 

If you find that the trunk won't move when you push it, you can use the chain and wrap it around. Connect this to your vehicle and slowly pull forward and reverse to uproot the trunk.

Be careful not to pull too quickly or you may damage your vehicle.

Method Two: How to Safely Burn a Tree Stump

This method can be effective for people that don't have the resources to dig out the stump on their own.

For this to work, you'll need to have:

First, you'll want to drill 10-inch holes around the top of the stump with almost an inch of space between each. 

Use your shovel, or a small gardening shovel if you have one, to add the catalyst to each hole. Then, funnel the holes with hot water to fill them the rest of the way. 

The water will work to dissolve the catalyst and will help it absorb into the stump. This helps the stump become more flammable so that the burn can be more controlled.

Use a little bit of tinder and build a fire right on top of the stump. The tree stump will eventually smolder and turn into charcoal and ash.

After this, you will be able to break the stump apart and dig the rest of it out.

As you can imagine, this method is slightly less safe than digging out the tree without chemicals. If you want to do a controlled burn, you have to be prepared to keep an eye on it for at least 12 hours. 

Don't make a plan to burn the stump while you're not home. Fire can spread quicker than you may think.

You also want to make sure that you use the right types of chemicals on the stump. You don't want to produce toxic fumes that could be hazardous to people or pets in the area. Know whether the type of tree stump you're planning to burn will release any toxins or poisons when burned. 

Method Three: How to Remove a Tree Stump With Chemicals

If you'd rather try to remove the stump with chemicals alone, this is an option if you have the right know-how and materials.

To do this method, you'll need: 

  • Drill
  • Potassium nitrate
  • Ax
  • Chainsaw

Cut down as much as you can with the chainsaw. Use a large drill bit and drill even holes around the perimeter of the stump with each being about 10 inches deep. 

The holes that you drill are important especially with this method because they are how the chemical will absorb into the stump. 

Pour the stump remover chemical, which usually contains potassium nitrate, directly into the holes that you drill and let it sit. The chemical will rot through the wood, so you will want to leave it for at least 3 weeks to fully penetrate the wood.

The stump will eventually become spongy and rotten. You can use the ax to remove the rest of the stump and the weakened roots at this point.

Aftercare for Your Lawn

If you remove your stump on your own, you'll need to clear all of the debris and the actual stump away on your own. Professional services like ours will take care of this task for you.

The stump removal, regardless of the method you choose, is going to leave a large hole behind where the roots were. Filling in that hole is going to be the next step to care for your lawn.

This is likely the most important thing to remember after getting a stump removed because a big hole in your lawn could be unsafe. It also won't look much nicer than the stump itself did!

You can use topsoil to fill it in and pack it lightly to promote future growth over the soil. 

You can always add new grass over where the tree once was, but another option is to plant a different tree or use this as an opportunity to change up your landscape. This might be the perfect time to add a new garden or plant some bushes in the old tree's place. 

If you choose to plant grass, don't forget to care for it just as you would with the rest of your lawn to promote the overall health of your landscaping and plants. 

Do You Need Professional Help With Your Tree Stump Removal?

Regardless of the method you choose, removing your stump can be difficult. This is especially true if you are dealing with a large stump or the roots have grown deep into the earth. 

If you aren't sure about whether or not you will be able to remove the stump, it may be better to call us to come help. Our professional stump removal service is able to make quick work of your tree stump and won't make a mess of your lawn in the process.

You may feel concerned about the cost. Professional removal may actually cost less as well, especially if you have to buy or rent the equipment needed to remove the stump on your own. 

If you want to remove the stump as fast as possible, hiring a service like Green Tops is your best bet. We have all of the experience needed to answer your questions and finish the task safely. 

Remove Your Tree Stump Today

If you're looking for the best tree stump removal services out there, you'll want to consider Green Tops.

We know how to remove a stump fast and can give you the knowledge you need to care for your lawn after the removal is complete. 

Our team is made up of professional arborists and we are here to help you with any tree-related concerns you may have. Contact us today to learn more about our services and see what we can do for you.

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