Tree Stumps: How To Kill Them?

Last updated on June 12th, 2022 at 02:25 pm

After a diseased or dead tree is cut down, its stump can become a nuisance. What should be done with it? Should it be ripped out or left to rot in place? We help you decide, between strong methods and softer techniques.

Pulling out the stump: The strong method
It is never very easy to pull out the stump of a tree or shrub, especially when you want to remove a hedge. Depending on the species:

Tree Stumps: How To Kill Them?

It may have long roots of varying depths that will have to be found and cut with a pruner or a pruning saw (for the smaller ones), an axe or a chainsaw, for the larger ones.
Its weight can be important. Once cleared of the surrounding soil, the stump is therefore difficult to lift or requires the use of a mechanical shovel.

Détruire rapidement une souche d'arbre

If you want to remove the stump from a small tree yourself :

First, avoid cutting the tree flush to the ground. It is more practical to leave 60 cm to 1 m of trunk length so that you can move the stump back and forth to help loosen it from the ground.
Start by removing the soil around the stump with a pickaxe until you can access the roots.
Clear the soil over and under the roots so you can slide and maneuver the tool to cut them (axe, saw, trimmer…)
If your stump is not too big, you can slide a crowbar or a crowbar underneath to try to lift it and pull out the remaining small roots. Lean on a large stone for leverage.
Then move it by manipulating it with the remaining part of the trunk. Little by little, you will succeed in extracting it.
If your tree stump is too heavy to be extracted by hand, use a chain hoist or a small motorized winch, making sure that the chain surrounds the stump at the roots.

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If your stump is very large and you have the necessary space, a mechanical shovel becomes essential. It is then better to call a professional.

Rotting a stump in place: The gentle method
Rather than ripping it out, some gardeners choose to let the stump decay in place. But, depending on the nature of the wood and its size, it can take many years for it to rot. However, this decomposition process can be accelerated.

détruire souche arbre

To speed up the process even more:

Clean the surface of the stump of all wood chips.
Then, using a drill equipped with a wood drill bit, drill holes close together in the center and around the edges of the stump.
Fill them with saltpetre (nitrate of potash) or with a stump killer. Plug the holes with a cork or wooden stopper.
Leave the saltpeter to work for 10 to 12 months, then uncork.
Then pour disaromatized kerosene inside the holes in the stump and with infinite care, set it on fire. Oil does not ignite as violently as gasoline, so this method is less dangerous!
The fire will slowly consume the entire stump and turn the roots into charcoal. Removal will then be easier.
If you want to use a chemical-free method of destroying a tree stump, do as the ancients did!

If you cut your tree low to the ground, you can already deprive the stump of light by covering it with a black garbage bag or simply with soil. In this humid environment, the wood-eating fungi will get to work faster.
Conversely, you can also dig holes all over the stump and let rainwater seep in, which will promote wood rot.
You can also slash the surface of the stump with an axe or chainsaw.
Finally, gardeners used to dig holes in the stump and slip in a clove of garlic or cheese. It is not certain that this old trick is really effective…

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  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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