Depending on the species, planting a tree can be a surprisingly pain-free process. With a little care taken to provide nutrients through fungi and watering, it’s easy to stimulate rapid growth for the coming year. It can therefore be frustrating to deal with the often difficult challenge of entirely removing a tree. Whether the tree is strangling your other plant systems with overly vigorous growth, too diseased to save, or simply needs to go in order to make space, it’s worth bearing these removal tips in mind.

Digging Out

An old standby, this technique is often used when the stump stands only a few inches above ground level. Possible, try and keep stumps at least a few feet above the ground to provide better leverage. A cutting mattock is the best tool for the job, letting you dig to the base of the stump, severing loose roots along the way. Dig down and cut the taproot, and there should be enough access space to pull the stump from the earth. Many opt to use a car in tandem with a mattock for added pulling power, and if space allows then it can be worth considering the extra force.

Grinding Away

When stumps are located near to walls and paths, tearing up the earth to get to the base of the stump may not be a viable option. For these awkward situations many choose to go with a stump grinder. A cutter wheel with carbide teeth grinds away at the stump to below the soil surface, until it’s largely destroyed. Some choose to burn out the hole with kerosene, but as long as you cover it with topsoil the stump should rot away out of sight and of its own accord.

Splitting Up

For smaller stumps, perhaps with a diameter no greater than ten inches, splitting can be a fast and effective method of removal. Simply cut away at the stump with an axe, or preferably a heavier maul, extracting sections of timber until only the roots remain. Smaller stumps can often be split straight down the middle, with both halves available to be removed instantly. The technique avoids the slow digging process, but can be quite exhausting when applied to larger stumps.

Natural Decay

Sometimes the easiest solution is to take no action at all, since the stump will rot away over time without any outside help. For anyone looking to speed up the natural process it’s easy to hasten results. Make sure the stump is close to ground level, and cover it with mulch or soil. Many elect to drill holes into the stump and insert nitrogen fertilizer into the gaps, encouraging the decay to start from within. Many retailers market stump removal chemicals to be left in drilled holes, rapidly decaying the stump. Always bear in mind that most of these pose a hazard to wildlife and humans, and should only be used with caution, and in private areas.

For whatever reason the plant needed to be felled, by bearing these tips in mind stump removal doesn’t need to be an overly laborious process.

From tree nurseries to tree felling, Tobias Arthur is an expert on planting and the environment. Currently collaborating with English Woodlands he hopes to expand his expertise while writing about his passion.

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