DIY Tree Care: How To Grind a Tree Stump On Your Own
Once you have your tree removed, you have another chore – getting rid of the stump. Tree stumps are a trip-and-fall hazard, as well as an easy place for pests like ants and termites to take up residence. Some species of trees will send out new growth from an untreated stump. So unless you are planning to carve it into a lawn decoration, your tree stump needs to go.
A professional tree service can grind down the stump to sawdust in an hour or two. If you do not want to pay for stump grinding, here are three tree care tips on how to get rid of the stump yourself.
Dig it Out
If the tree you removed is small, you may be able to dig out the stump. Obviously this involves a lot of time, sweat, and elbow grease, but if you already own a good quality shovel, mattock, bowsaw, and/or axe, you and a helper or two should be able to manage it.
First, soak the area around the stump to loosen the dirt. A power washer is perfect for this and will expose more roots than just a hose. Dig around the stump with a mattock or shovel to expose the roots, continually clearing away the loose soil (there will be a lot of it). With a mattock, bowsaw, or axe, chop away at the smaller roots until you reach the taproot. Wearing steel-toed boots and taking caution to clear the area of objects and people, chop or saw through the taproot with an axe or bow saw. Continue chopping through the remaining small roots until you can free the entire stump.
Rot it Out
Dead tree material will eventually rot away on its own, but you can speed up this process to get rid of your unwanted stump. It does take time and patience, but rotting out your stump takes considerably less labor than digging it out. This method is best for large tree stumps that are impractical to remove manually.
Make sure the stump is cut as low to the ground as possible. Using a drill and a large drill bit, bore several holes into the surface of the tree stump. The bigger the holes, the faster the stump will rot. Fill the holes with water, then with high-nitrogen fertilizer or stump-remover granules. Water well all around the stump and cover it with a plastic tarp to trap in the moisture. Put organic mulch on top of the tarp, then wet the mulch also. The added moisture will speed the rotting process, and the added weight will prevent the tarp from blowing away and hide the unsightly stump. In the next 4 to 6 weeks, lift the tarp and rewet the stump periodically. When the stump becomes spongy, break it up with an axe or mattock, then bury the remaining material so it can continue to rot underground.
Burn it Out
This method can be risky in a fire-prone area like El Dorado Hills, but if you can get approval from the county, burning the stump is fast, easy, and shovel-free.
Drill several holes into the top of the tree stump. Fill the holes with water and potassium nitrate or Stump-Out. These products rot the wood, leaving it porous and perfect for burning. When the wood is porous (in about 4 to 6 weeks), soak the stump in kerosene and ignite it. Watch the stump closely as it becomes a low, smoldering flame. The result will be only ashes.