There it is, rising from out of the ground, interrupting the continuity of your beautifully landscaped lawn, that ugly, slowly rotting stump. The felled tree once attached to it sits neatly stacked in a firewood pile or has long left your property. Yet, that stump remains; and, though you’ve considered repurposing it to make it into a base for a bird bath or another feature, it’s deteriorating steadily.
That’s a problem in itself, because as it does so, it becomes a haven for pests that will wreak havoc on your lawn, garden, and their very presence will attract others who are looking for prey. Now, you’re praying there’s an easy way to get rid of it, without having to go through the time and effort of renting a machine grinder or a stump removal service.
The good news is, depending on how much patience you can muster, there are several options for DIY stump removal. Some take longer than others and though there are products available which claim to magically dissolve the entire thing, that’s more marketing than magic.
Renting a Machine or Hiring a Service
If you believe you can handle a machine, then it’s worth a shot to rent one and try it out. Be aware that these machines are not for the faint of heart, meaning, they require quite a bit of muscle. Handling a grinder isn’t an easy task and there’s a lot which can go wrong. Grinders present safety hazards and must be used with care. What’s more, not only do they require muscle, they are typically unwieldy machines, vibrating in a manner that will have you trembling for quite some time after using one.
You can remove a stump by renting a power stump grinder, but another way is to buy a can of stump remover (available at most garden or home centers). Most brands are made of powdered potassium nitrate, which speeds up the rotting process. You simply pour the granules into drilled holes and fill the holes with water. The stump will become pretty spongy after four to six weeks. Keep kids and pets away. Then you can break out the rotten wood with an ax. —The Family Handyman
Hiring a service is another option, but one that’s going to be more expensive than renting a machine. If you choose to go this route, be sure to check them out, especially their license and insurance. Of course, if you find a service that quotes a bargain basement price, that’s generally a red flag. You need to ask questions to ensure you’re not hiring someone that’s going to leave your property off worse. It bears repeating, but these machines are dangerous and if you hire someone that’s inexperienced, you might be looking at an insurance claim or filing a lawsuit.
DIY Stump Removal without a Grinder
Should you decide against hiring a service and don’t want to try and manhandle a grinder, there are other options to remove a stump. Here are some steps to follow for you to get the job done:
- Cut it down to size. It starts with a chainsaw and cutting it as close to the ground as possible. Suit yourself up with eye protection, a pair of work gloves, and a well-oiled chainsaw. Then fire it up and cut it, you can saw the wood into smaller pieces to burn later on.
- Soften the remaining stump. Now, it’s on to potassium nitrate or saltpeter. Drill several holes into the top using a one inch bit, about eight to ten inches deep each, spaced at least three to four inches apart. Boil some water, then pour the potassium nitrate into those holes and pour the boiling water into the holes. This will cause the potassium nitrate to break down and absorb into the stump to do its stuff.
- Leave it work for awhile. It will take about a month to six weeks, perhaps as much as eight weeks, for it to work through the stump and penetrate deep toward the root ball.
- Apply an accelerant to the stump. Pour one to two gallons of kerosene or lamp oil onto the stump, but do not substitute those for gasoline. This will take about two to three weeks to absorb deep into the stump and will have to be repeated at least once thereafter to get the job done.
- Burn it out. Once the kerosene or lamp oil has been applied at least twice over four to six weeks, then it’s time to set it ablaze. Check with your local fire department to learn about any open fires. Clear the immediate area around it if there’s leaves or fallen branches to ensure it won’t accidentally spread. Put that stuff on top of the stump into the holes, and strike a match.
It will take anywhere from a couple of days to nearly a week for it to be reduced to ashes. Once it is, simply rake it up and backfill the hole with a soil of your choosing.