8 Alternatives to Removing Stumps Without a Stump Grinder

Every property owner knows the challenges associated with cutting down trees. Whether they are too old, diseased, or already dead, cutting down the branches is just the first challenge. After the branches are removed you must cut through the stump, which is the most difficult part of tree removal, as the stump remains firmly rooted in the ground.

Instead of using a costly stump grinder, there are several other, more budget-friendly options that you can employ that are just as effective as using a grinder.

An easy solution is chemically treating the stumps. Using products such as potassium nitrate or other chemical fertilizers can easily destroy the stumps without manual labor. These products work by encouraging bacterial growth to decompose the stump. After brushing on the chemicals and letting a few weeks pass, the stump will be removable with minimal effort and an ax.

Alternatives to Stump Grinders to Remove a Tree Stump

There are several ways of removing a tree stump, the quickest and most effective of which is using a power stump grinder to turn the stump into sawdust. However, if you don’t have access to a grinder there are several other ways to get rid of stumps. Here are a few alternatives to stump grinders to remove a tree stump:

Chemical Removal
Chemical products are available at home and garden stores that will hasten the decay of stumps. Most of these products employ potassium nitrate to accelerate the decay process. Chemical fertilizers with a high nitrogen content will also produce bacterial growth to speed up the decay process and make a stump easier to remove. In either case, use a larger wood drill bit to bore holes into the stump. Fill the holes with the chemicals mixed with water and allow to stand until the stump becomes soft, which can take anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months, depending on the size of the stump. Once the stump has sufficiently decayed use a pick or axe to break it up. As a note of caution, keep children and animals away from the area when using chemicals.

The old tried-and-true method of digging gets rid of the stump in a few hours, but is very labor intensive. Dig around the stump with a pick axe until all the roosts are exposed. Use an axe to chop through all the roots and the stump will come free. However, some trees have a “tap root,” which is a root that grows straight down, into the ground, from under the stump. In this case the dirt under the stump must be dug out and the tap root chopped off. If there are a lot of stumps to remove a pulaski, which has a head with a digging tool, or adze, on one side and an axe blade on the other, is a worthwhile investment. After all the roots have been cut the stump can be pulled out with a chain attached to a small tractor or truck. As a warning, never try to pull a stump out with a vehicle before the roots have been cut, as the vehicle can be severely damaged.

Drill large holes down into the stump, from the top, as far as possible and fill the holes with fuel oil kerosene; don’t use gasoline. Wait one week for the wood to soak up the fuel and then drop a lit match into each hole. The stump will slow-smolder for several days and, eventually, will be burned away. Use a pick axe or pulaski to break up any remaining pieces. Be sure to keep children and animals away from the area while the stump is burning.

Organic Removal
Once the tree has been cut down the stump will naturally begin to decay, but depending on how much rainfall the area gets this can take a few months to several years. However, the natural decomposition process can be sped up significantly. First, cut the stump off as close to the ground as possible with a chainsaw. Cover the remaining stump with finely-ground mulch and completely saturate the mulch and stump with water. Cover the stump and mulch with a piece of plastic, weight the plastic down with some rocks and wait. Fungus and bacteria will quickly grow in the warm, moist environment and rapidly causes the stump to decay so it can be broken up with minimal effort.

Burning is another method to eradicate tree stumps. Done in a controlled environment, burning a tree stump from the interior is an effective way to completely remove the stump without burning the nearby soil. By lighting a fire on the stump, the tree is burned, along with its roots, and the soil is fertilized by the ash.

If you’re feeling up for manual labor, destroying that tree stump with a pick-ax is another way to get rid of that pesky stump. To manually remove the roots and pull the stump out of the soil, use an ax or chainsaw to cut the tree down as low to the soil as possible, and then use a crowbar or other tool with leverage to pull out the stump.

If you have ample time, and don’t mind the smell, another way to remove a tree stump is by using manure. Simply coat the stump in a thick layer of manure, and allow the Earth to do the rest. Be warned, though, manure decomposition of a stump can take several years, and comes with a stink!

All of these options are easy alternatives to renting a costly stump grinder, and are the perfect solution for your home improvement needs.