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Tree Service

How Does Tree Stump Removal Really Work?

Close up of Pensacola tree service professional performing tree removal with chainsaw.

Maintaining a tidy lawn and great landscaping is not only aesthetically pleasing, but it’s also a smart way to protect your investment. Positive curb appeal can add a perceived 10% to the value of your home. One of the most important parts of maintaining that curb appeal is tree stump removal.

Removing a tree stump sounds like a lot of hot, labor-intensive work for one person to tackle, and anyone who has done lot clearing will tell you that that’s the truth.

There are a few different ways to go about tree stump removal, so before you decide how you want to go about it, you should take a look at some pricing and weigh it against the amount of work involved in each process.

Read on to find out more about how tree stump removal works, and it’ll help you decide which way to go.

Manual Tree Stump Removal

If you think you’re up for the work, you’ll first need to get some tools. If you don’t already have them, they could be a little on the pricey side. You’ll need:

  • Mattock
  • Shovel
  • Ax
  • Digging Bar
  • Bow Saw
  • Safety Glasses
  • Gloves
  • Steel or Composite Toe Boots

Once you’ve gathered your tools and put on your PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), use the mattock to loosen up the dirt all the way around the tree and then dig out the dirt so that as much of the roots as possible are exposed. After that, you’ll need to use the ax and the bow saw to start hacking and sawing each of the smaller roots until the taproot is all that remains.

Once the taproot is showing, use the axe and digging bar to chop and pry the stump out of the ground. This method will take a day’s work to complete if the tree has any size to it, but it will be gone after this. Once complete you can refill the hole with dirt.

Use Chemicals

Another option for removing a tree stump is to use chemicals to deteriorate the stump and gradually work away at it over time with a maul or an ax. The tools you’ll need for this method include:

  • Chainsaw
  • Drill
  • Potassium Nitrate
  • Tarp
  • Ax
  • Mulch

This method is a little bit less laborious, but it will take time so if you’re in need of immediate tree stump removal, skip to the next section. Otherwise, read on.

First, you’ll need to cut the stump down to ground level (or as close to it as possible) with the chainsaw. Then take the drill and drill several holes in the cutoff stump and fill them with water. After you’ve filled the holes with water, add potassium nitrate.

After you’ve done all of this, saturate the ground all around the stump with water and then cover the stump with a tarp to help retain moisture. On top of the tarp, lay down your mulch and water it again.

Check on the deterioration of your stump from time to time (about once or twice a week) and refill the holes with water and potassium nitrate and cover it back up. After about six weeks, your stump should be rotted enough to use the ax and chop it out of the ground. There may still be some woody debris left over, but you can cover it all up with your mulch and make it a flower bed or another landscaping addition.

Burn The Stump

This is going to sound like the easiest method, but keep in mind that it will take the longest of any method we have discussed in this article. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Power Drill
  • Fuel Oil or Kerosene
  • A Lighter

That’s all you need. First, drill holes in the stump with the largest drill bit you can find and fill them with fuel oil or kerosene. Using caution, light it.

Now, a couple of caveats. First, make sure you have some water on hand to extinguish any fires that may escape your work area. It is very important to only use fuel oil or kerosene –do not use gasoline under any circumstances.

The other caveat is that this process will take some time, and you’ll have to repeat the process several times over a matter of weeks. You can gradually chop away at it with an ax if you’d like to speed up the process, but it’s still going to take time and patience.

Hire a Professional

Hiring a tree service professional, or arborist, is by far the easiest route. Some folks are scared to go this route, simply because they do not want to pay someone to do the work for them. Primarily, because they think it’s going to be too expensive. The reality however, is that it can be cheaper to go this route and in addition to being cheaper it also takes all of the manual labor off your hands.

If you look at the equipment you’ll need, the amount of time that it will take, and the amount of labor required, the smarter choice for many people is to hire a tree removal service to take care of it. The average cost of tree stump removal is right around $350, and they can be in and out of there within a day while you’re off doing something a lot more fun than hacking away at tree roots.

Save Time and Money, Call a Pro

Weigh the options laid out above before making a final decision, obviously. If you don’t mind the work and you’ve got the tools and supplies on hand, by all means – go that route. If you’d rather have a professional come in and give you a quote, that should help you make an even more informed decision.

Make sure that if you do decide to hire a tree stump removal service that you call a trusted local business.