How to Remove a Tree Stump the Right Way?

Did you cut a tree that wasn’t working well in your yard? And now, an unsightly stump is left behind that’s troubling the overall appearance. If you have tried removing it, you would already know that it isn’t an easy task. There are several options available to get rid of the stump. Options include digging, grinding, burning, and using chemicals. However, the right choice depends on various factors.

Here, we will discuss how each method works and a few tips for selecting the right one. But before we begin, we recommend hiring professionals for tree trimming or stump grinding in Westwood NJ, for effective results.


Digging the Stump Out of the Ground Manually

This manual approach to removing the stump is labor-intensive and works well for small to medium trunk sizes. For a bigger stump, a stump grinder is a better option. While it is an inexpensive option, it needs you to spend time from 3-12 hours depending on the stump size. Plus, you will need some tools like a digging bar, box saw, mattock, and axe.

Here’s how you can remove the stump manually by digging:

  • Dig around the stump’s circumference using the mattock’s broad end.
  • Use the shovel to get rid of the loose dirt to expose the tree roots.
  • Now, cut off the tree roots from the trunk using the mattock or small bow.
  • Resume digging and chopping until the taproot becomes visible and then clear the area surrounding it.
  • Cut through the taproot with the bow saw or axe.
  • Wiggle and remove the tree stump from the ground.
  • Finally, fill the hole with sawdust or loam. You will need to add more sawdust or loam as the ground will sink in some time.

Grinding the Stump

As mentioned, stump grinders are suitable for bigger stumps or if you need to remove multiple old stumps. In addition, you will also need other tools like a mattock, shovel, chainsaw, and rake. However, before renting a grinder, make sure it can be easily transported plus the rental company offers delivery and take away. Here’s how an arborist in Emerson NJ, does the job well.

  • Use a shovel or mattock to clear the tree stump of rocks, dirt, and debris.
  • Cut the maximum possible stump with a chainsaw, usually up to the ground level.
  • Take the stump grinder and turn it on after placing its wheel a few inches above the stump.
  • Push it lower by around 3 inches and use the lever to make a side-to-side movement.
  • Grind down the entire stump perimeter to 4 inches using the wheel.
  • Use wood chips (stump remnants) to fill the hole and cover it with grass and/or topsoil.

While you can do it yourself, you should do proper research and follow guidelines as it involves heavy machinery.

Burning the Stump

The burning method is another DIY approach that you can use solo or combine with digging or chemical removal. For burning the stump, you will need a power drill, fuel oil or kerosene, a shovel, and a stump removal product. It’s an effective approach as long as you follow proper instructions and safety measures.

  • Take the power drill to make holes in the stump.
  • Sprinkle the removal product inside the holes that will make the wood porous.
  • Now, pour the fuel oil over the removal product into the holes. Let the stump soak completely and the fuel is absorbed.
  • Ignite the stump to burn it and watch making sure the flame smolders.
  • Once the stump burns completely, use a shovel to remove the ash from the hold.
  • Now, use topsoil to cover the empty area and put out any fire remnants.

However, before using this approach, ensure that using fuel oil or kerosene is acceptable in your neighborhood.

Removing the Stump with Chemical

The least labor-intensive approach, chemical removal takes time depending on the stump size. Since it involves rotting the stump, bigger ones can take around a year. And if you own a drill and chainsaw, this is an inexpensive approach. For this method, you will need a drill, a chainsaw, an axe, garden mulch, potassium nitrate, and a plastic tarp.

  • Remove the stump above the ground level using a chainsaw. Don’t go in without safety gear like steel-toe boots and safety goggles.
  • In the leftover stump, drill the widest and deepest holes possible using the largest bit. Keep the holes as close as possible.
  • Add water followed by potassium nitrate to the holes. You can also use a nitrogen-rich fertilizer or stump remover granules.
  • Use water to soak the ground around the stump and cover it using a plastic tarp. This will help retain moisture and speed up rotting.
  • Use mulch (preferably organic) to cover the tarp and add water again so that the area stays soaked and the moisture is retained.
  • Keep a periodic check on the progress alongside adding more nitrogen to the stump followed by mulch and water for recovery.
  • The stump should become spongy after 4-6 weeks. Then, you can remove its portions using an axe and speed up the process.

Once enough stump is removed, add dirt to cover it. Epsom salt is an alternative to potassium nitrate if you want to avoid harsh chemicals.


So, you can use one of the four methods to get rid of that unsightly stump. However, it’s suggested to hire a professional for tree trimming in Westwood, NJ, for effective results.

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