How To Get Rid Of Tree Stumps: 5 Options for Removal

Wondering how to get rid of tree stumps? It might be surprising to learn that removing a tree stump can be as difficult as removing the tree itself. Thankfully, if you hired a professional tree service to remove your tree, chances are they also offer tree stump removal. However, if you removed the tree yourself, then you will be responsible for removing the stump as well. That might mean trying a few DIY options or hiring a professional service to remove the stump for you. You definitely don’t want to leave the tree stump in your yard. Not only can they be an eyesore, but they also cause a myriad of problems for property owners:

  • They attract pests such as wasps and termites
  • They can damage your lawnmower
  • They can be a safety hazard; someone can trip over them and get injure

Option 1: The Chemical Method

This method requires the least amount of work. It involves using chemicals to speed up the natural decay process. If you’re not up for manual labor, or you have a tree stump that’s too large to remove by hand, then this method is your best bet. However, if you’re in a hurry, it’s best to first try one of the methods listed below. That’s because the chemical method of stump removal takes at least four weeks, and can last as long as a year. The larger your tree stump, the longer it will take to break down.

What You'll Need

  • Plastic tarp
  • Drill and bit
  • Chainsaw or bow saw
  • Garden mulch
  • Potassium-nitrate tree stump removal granules or high-nitrogen garden fertilizer
  • Protective safety gear (e.g. safety goggles, steel toe boots)


Step 1: Put your protective safety gear on.

Step 2: Using your chainsaw or bow saw, cut the stump so that it’s as close to the ground as possible.

Step 3: Using the largest drill bit that you have, drill some holes through what is left of the tree stump. Make the holes as deep and as large as you can.

Step 4: Fill the holes with water. Then, put your stump removal granules or high-nitrogen garden fertilizer into the holes.

Step 5: Soak the ground and the tree stump with water. Then, cover the stump with a plastic tarp. This will help accelerate the rotting process. .

Step 6: Apply an organic mulch over the plastic tarp, and soak again with water. This will further increase the moisture in the area. It will also prevent the tarp from being blown away by the wind.

Step 7: Over the next few weeks, periodically add more nitrogen and water to your tree stump, making sure to cover it up again afterward.

Step 8: After a few weeks, your tree stump should become spongy. At this point, you can use an ax to remove portions of the tree stump. Otherwise, you can repeat step 7, or move on to Option 3 below.

Option 2: The Manual Method

The manual method works best for small to medium-sized tree stumps. If you have a stump that is larger, and you don’t want to use the chemical method above, then you’ll probably need a stump grinder. In which case, skip to Option 4 below. Removing a tree stump using this method can take anywhere from 3 to 12 hours, depending on how large your stump is. Warning! Axes can be dangerous. Don’t use one unless you have been trained to use it safely. If you haven’t, use a bow saw instead — it’s safer.

What You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Heavy steel digging bar
  • Mattock
  • Bow saw or ax
  • Safety gear such as work gloves, safety goggles, and steel toe bootsv
  • Wet rag


Step 1: Using the mattock’s broad end, dig around the stump to loosen the dirt. Then, shovel the dirt out of the way. Clear as much soil away as is necessary to gain access to the stump’s roots.

Step 2: Use the mattock or bow saw to chop through the tree roots. Once you reach the taproot, use a wet rag to clean off excess dirt before cutting.

Step 3: Once you’ve cut through the taproot, wiggle the tree stump around to loosen it. Eventually, you should be able to pull it straight out.

Option 3: Burning It Down

This method can be used alone or after one of the methods listed above. Note: Some communities and neighborhoods do not allow open flames or the use of kerosene. Make sure to check your local rules and regulations before trying this stump removal method.

What You’ll Need

  • Tree stump removal granules (e.g. Stump Out)
  • Kerosene
  • Power drill


Step 1: Drill holes in the stump

Step 2: Sprinkle your tree stump removal granules into the holes. This will help make the wood more porous.

Step 3: Pour kerosene into the holes you drilled, making sure the tree stump is completely soaked.

Step 4: Light the stump. Make sure there is always someone supervising the fire. Once the fire has begun to smolder, you can cover it with topsoil to put out what remains of the fire.

Option 4: Use a Stump Grinder

Using a stump grinder is the fastest way to remove a tree stump. You should consider using a stump grinder if:

  • You have multiple tree stumps that need to be removed
  • Your tree stump is on the larger side, and you don’t want to use the burning method above

What Is a Stump Grinder?

Stump grinders are large machines that are specifically designed to remove tree stumps. Many local home improvement stores offer stump grinders for rent, and you can typically rent one for $100 to $200 a day. However, before you go and rent one out, make sure to do your research. Stump grinders can weigh around 1000 pounds, so you need to have a way to transport it to and from your home. Their large size also means that they can be a challenge to operate. You will need to make sure you have all of the necessary safety equipment and training. Despite their large size, many of the stump grinders available in your local store won’t be big enough to get the job done. It’s possible to rent professional-grade stump grinders. If you decide to go this route, expect to pay around $400 to $500 a day to rent one out. These machines will take even more skill and training to operate safely.

What You’ll Need

  • Stump Grinder
  • Rake
  • Shovel
  • Mattock
  • Chainsaw


Step 1: Use your shovel to clear away any dirt, debris, or rocks that are near your tree stump.

Step 2: Use your chainsaw to cut off as much of the stump as you can. If you can, try to get the stump flush with the ground.

Step 3: Position the stump grinder’s wheel a few inches above your tree stump.

Step 4: Turn the stump grinder on.

Step 5: Lower the stump grinder while using its lever to move it from side to side. Repeat until the perimeter of the stump is about 4 inches below the ground.

Step 6: Fill the resulting hole with the wood chips from your stump. Cover it with topsoil.

Option 5: Hire a Professional

If you hired a professional tree service to remove your tree, chances are they will also be able to remove the remaining stump. Some services charge an extra fee for this, others include it as part of your tree removal package. Even if you fell your tree yourself, you can still hire a professional tree service to come in and remove your tree. You should consider hiring a professional if:

  • You don’t want to wait a whole year for your stump to be removed
  • You can’t or don’t want to light a fire on your property
  • You don’t want to operate heavy machinery
  • You just want your stump removed with as little hassle as possible

Costs for professional tree stump removal can vary depending on the size of the stump to be removed. In general, you can expect to pay a minimum of $60. This means that in some cases, you can actually save money by hiring a professional, compared to renting out a stump grinder and doing it yourself.

How Long Do You Need To Wait Before Removing a Tree Stump?

You can remove a tree stump any time after the tree is felled. If you choose to remove the stump manually, it might be easier to wait until the stump has aged and dried out. Typically, this takes at least a year or two. The dried wood will be easier to cut out compared to wood that is still green. If you choose to remove the stump using chemicals, then you should begin as soon as the tree has been felled.

How Long Will It Take if I Just Wait for the Tree Stump to Rot Away?

If you can’t be bothered to try any of the methods above, you can always leave things to Mother Nature. If you go this route, it will take anywhere from 3 to 7 years to completely decompose your tree stump. The precise amount of time will depend on a variety of factors, such as the type of tree, and the conditions in the local environment. For example, pine trees may take longer to decay compared to Hickory trees.


You can choose how to get rid of tree stumps on your property. There are a variety of factors that will affect which option is best for you. If you are interested in professional tree stump removal, don’t hesitate to call in the experts. We can provide complete removal of unsightly tree stumps in the Portland area.