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How to Kill a Tree Stump

how to kill a tree stump

If you’re trying to remove a tree entirely from your yard it’s vital you get rid of properly or it’s going to continue to spread new shoots and potentially continue growing. In this article we’re going to take a look at a few simple techniques you can use if you want to know how to kill a tree stump.

How to Remove a Tree Stump

Here’s two two excellent tried and tested options for removing tree stumps:

Method 1: Epsom Salt (takes a few months) items required:

  • Epsom Salt,
  • Drill and 8-12 inch drill bit.
  • Tarp or something to cover the trunk.

Method 2: Chopping (stump gone same day) items required:

  • Stump grinder
  • Chainsaw
  • Axe & shovel.
  • Protective Goggles and mask.

Let’s take an in-depth look at how to remove tree stumps using both methods.

Method 1: How to Kill a Tree Stump with Epsom Salt

If you can get your hands on some Epsom salt then it’s pretty straightforward to cost-effectively remove a tree stump. It’s worth noting that this isn’t the quickest way to remove a stump and can take several months so if you’re looking for a quick fix, try one of our other recommended methods.

1. Get Some Epsom Salt

Ensure that you use Epsom salt, don’t try to use regular table salt as this won’t have the same effect. We also advise against using a chemical herbicide as this could potentially kill the roots of other plants in the area. You should be able to find Epsom salt in pharmacies or grocery stores but if you can’t get Epsom salt near you, you can always source it online.

2. Make Holes in the Tree Stump

You’re going to need to help the salt penetrate the tree stump, this is where making holes helps out. Our recommended method for this would be drilling holes using a long drill bit (Between 8-12 inches long). It’s vital you use a long drill bit to ensure you get deep enough into base of the trunk.

We recommend taking the drill bit out every few inches while drilling to help clear the hole of wood shavings and ensure the holes are nice and clear.

It’s difficult to put an exact number on how many holes there should be but as a rule of thumb aim for a series of holes 2-3 inches apart until there’s an even spread of holes across the entire tree trunk.

3. Fill the Holes with Salt

Spread the Epsom salt across the top of the trunk making sure to spread it evenly across the holes. You can also follow the additional steps below which may improve results but are not essentials:

  • Light a candle and use the wax to seal the top of the holes up.
  • Spread any surplus salt from the top of the trunk around it’s base – only do this if there are no other plants surrounding the tree trunk.

4. Cover the Trunk

The fourth and final step involves covering the trunk to stop the rain getting to the salt. This also helps to prevent sunlight from reaching the trunk. You can use a tarp and metal pegs to effectively cover the trunk, other options include plastic bags but be sure to add plenty of layers as these may not be so weather resistant. After around 8 weeks you should notice the trunk has started to die when you check on it. After a few months of the procedure, the trunk should fall apart on its own.

Method 2: How to Kill a Tree Stump by Chopping

Chopping away the tree stump is a more aggressive approach but one that gets the job done much sooner. It does require a little confidence in operating machinery and remember:

It’s vital that you always wear the appropriate protective gear when operating machinery and there are no children or animals around.

1. Source a Stump Grinder

You’ll need to use a stump grinder in order to effectively chop it up, we’d recommend renting one if possible as it’s likely to be the most cost-effective way to get your hands on one. If you don’t feel comfortable operating one yourself it’s worth contacting local contractors to do it for you but is likely to be more expensive than if you do it yourself.

2. Get the Stump Close

Before we can start using the grinder you need to cut the stump as close to the ground as possible. Wearing protective goggles, a mask, and if possible steel toe cap boots use a chainsaw to level off the stump a few inches above the ground.

Use this as an opportunity to cut away any roots or lumps that may get in the way of you grinding the stump.

3. Use the Stump Grinder

Every stump grinder will come with different instructions so reading the manufacturer’s usage guide is a key point. Once you are familiar with how to use the grinder move is slowly across the stump to break it up into bits. After the stump has been broken into bits you can use an axe and shovel to chop out/remove remaining roots and wood chunks.

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