Kill a tree stump

4 Best Ways to Kill a Tree Stump

If you have a tree stump in your garden producing new shoots, you must kill it to stop it from growing. A half-dead stump is an unsightly obstacle that will not go away. There are four ways to kill a tree stump: you can soak it in a saline solution, burn it, shield it from the sun, or shred it. After he’s dead, you can remove the stump and fill the hole.

Use Epsom or rock salt

Get Epsom salt or rock salt.

You can easily kill a tree stump with Epsom Salt or Rock Salt. The salt method will take several months for the stump to die, so it’s not the best method if you need to get rid of it quickly. First of all, always remember that rethinking is called for. Wouldn’t it be nice to leave the tree stump and put a flower pot with beautiful flowers on it? You could also let it overgrow or simply wait until it decomposes by itself and is home to many animals during this time. So away from destruction, towards creativity and environmental thinking! Don’t use regular table salt as it will have harmful effects on the soil around the stump. Use 100 percent Epsom or rock salt with no added ingredients to ensure the area around the stump is not disturbed.

Drill holes in the tree stump.

Drill a pattern into the stump’s surface so the solution can penetrate. If you have a long enough drill bit, the holes should be 1 to 2 1/2 cm wide and at least 20 or 30 cm deep. Going deep will ensure the saline solution can penetrate deep to the roots. If you don’t have a drill long enough, chop the wood with an ax and make grooves that should be as deep as possible. If you have a stump with large above-ground roots, dig holes in the roots as well.

Fill the holes with salt and cover them with wax.

Fill the holes 3/4 full with Epsom salt or rock salt. Don’t forget the holes you drilled in the above-ground roots. Then, light an unscented candle and let the wax drip into the holes. It is important to ensure that the salt stays in place and is not spilled over the garden, as salt can harm the soil and other plants’ roots.

Cover the stump.

Cover the stump with a plastic sheet, garbage bag, or other non-porous material. It will die faster if it doesn’t get sun and rain to develop new shoots. After six weeks or even several months, the stump will die. Check him out now and then to see how things have progressed. When the stump is dead, it should start breaking apart.

Shield against the sun

Cover the stump.

This method is not expensive, but it can take a long time. The idea is to slowly kill the stump by denying it its basic needs for sunlight and water. Place a dark tarp or trash bag over the stump so it will not receive sun or water.

Wait three to six months.

During this time, the stump will slowly die back. Check back from time to time to see how it’s progressing. It should start to rot and fall apart. You could use a solution to speed up the process as it dies and rots. It is available from nurseries and garden centers. You could also put some Epsom salts into any existing cracks in the tree stump. Or use the first mentioned method and drill holes in the stump and fill them with salt to make it go faster.

Dig up all the sprouts.

Covering the stem should stop any growth. However, new sprouts may still grow, which you will need to cut off or kill. You may not use poison if you want to grow a new tree from a sprout.

Burn out the tree stump

Drill holes in the stump.

Drill lots of holes in the top of the stump. If you have a long enough drill bit, the holes should be 1 to 2 1/2 cm wide and at least 20 or 30 cm deep. Going deep will ensure that the stump will be burned to the roots.

Pour kerosene into the holes (not good for the environment).

Soak the stump in kerosene so you can light it and burn it to ashes. Ensure the stump is completely saturated or the fire could die out before it reaches its roots. Another option is to shovel hot coals onto the stump. This will slowly burn through the wood without damaging nearby plants. If you are concerned about nearby objects catching fire, you should not use this method. You will set fire to the stump, very effectively, and it can be dangerous if you don’t have a lot of space around it. Check ordinances with local authorities to make sure it’s legal to have a controlled fire. Or call the local fire department but not 911 because it’s not an emergency.

Make a fire on the tree stump.

Place small pieces of wood on the stump and use a fire starter to light them. As the fire burns, the stump will catch fire and burn up. Look closely to ensure the stump catches fire, adding more wood if necessary to keep the fire going. Supervise the stump as it turns to ash. Don’t leave him unattended in case the fire gets out of control. Depending on the stump’s size, the firing process can take several hours.

Dig up the ashes and fill the hole.

Use a shovel to remove the ash from the roots and fill the hole with fresh soil.

Chop the stump

Get a stump grinder.

This is a machine you could rent at a hardware store. It has a milling disc with milling teeth that will shred the tree stump into wood chips. It’s a good method if you have a huge, stubborn stump. Renting a stump grinder is probably the most sensible decision. However, it might be worth buying one if you’re dealing with many stumps. You should also have protective gear. Goggles and a mask protect you from sawdust and flying pieces of wood. If you don’t like handling heavy machinery, you can call a local landscaper and explain that you have a stump that needs to be removed. So you’re just going to pay someone else to do it.

Cut the stump down close to the ground.

Use a chainsaw to cut down the stump to within a few inches. Remove any interfering branches or roots so the stump grinder can do its job on a stable and level surface.

Mill the stump.

Put on your goggles and mask, and position the stump grinder over the stump. Then, following the manufacturer’s instructions, slowly move the grinder across the stump’s surface to grind it away. Also, dig up the above-ground roots until the stump is completely dug away. Make sure your feet are out of the way of the tiller. Wear heavy boots, so you don’t accidentally hurt yourself. Make sure children and pets are at a safe distance before beginning your work.

Dig up the tree remains and fill the hole.

Remove and discard the shredded milling material (or use it as mulch). Then fill the hole with soil. You may also need an ax to chop up the remaining roots.


You can mix stains and dyes into the herbicides before applying them. Dye or stain will show you where the stump has been treated. This way you won’t miss any spots and won’t use too much herbicide either, reducing the risk of damaging other trees. Until the stump is dead, you could cut off seedlings growing out of the stump. Or spray them with something that contains triclopyr. If your goal is to grow a tree from the old stump, cut off extra seedlings, and don’t use herbicide.


In some trees, the roots can form a common root system with those of other trees when they touch. For example, they can share water and mineral nutrients in this way. This is a form of natural refinement. When trees have developed a common root system, the herbicides applied to the tree stump can spread to other trees through the root system. Even if the tree roots are not grafted, they can release the herbicide into the soil. Once the herbicides are released, all surrounding plants can absorb them. You may need to take other precautions if shoots continue to develop after you cut away the stump, as some hardy trees may produce more shoots.

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About the Author

sandy beck

Sandy Beck

Sandy Beck is CouponAnnie's consumer savings expert. Her work has been featured by Consumer Reports, The New York Times, Savings Hub, and MarketWatch. Sandy enjoys shopping and she is an extreme couponing expert.