Can I Grind a Stump Myself?

Trees are certainly an asset to your yard. They provide welcomed shade, beautify the landscape, and invite friendly animals; plus, if, they’re fruit trees, they can also be a source of good for you treats supplied by nature. However, if you’ve recently had a tree fall in your yard or you’ve had to take one down as a result of disease, or simply because it was growing too close to your house or you wanted to free up some space in your yard to make room for a pool, a swing set, a patio, or any other feature, the stump the tree has left behind can be a serious asset.

Tree stumps are a major nuisance. Not only are they an eyesore, but they can pose several problems. Firstly, they can become a tripping hazard that could potentially cause injuries; you could trip over it while mowing the lawn or your kids could trip over it while playing, for example. Tree stumps can also lead to a pest problem; wood-boring insects, such as termites, root-borer beetles, or carpenter ants, which can cause serious issues, as the pests could spread to other parts of your property – including your house – and cause serious structural damages and costly repairs. The bottom line: if you have a tree stump in your yard, you’re going to want to get rid of it.

Do tree stumps grow back? Can you kill a stump? How much will it cost to purchase the tools to remove a tree stump yourself? To find the answers to these questions and more, and determine the best way to get rid of those unwanted stumps, keep on reading.

Can Tree Stumps Grow Back?

First and foremost, you might be curious if tree stumps can grow back. As hard as it might be to believe, yes, a tree stump can eventually grow back into a full-sized tree! Though the upper reaches of the tree may be gone, the roots are still attached to the bottom of the tree. While the roots are no longer active when a tree is knocked down or removed, there is a chance that there could be enough nutrients within the root system, which could potentially lead to sprout growth. Over time, the trunk of the tree could recover, and eventually, a full tree could grow up out of the stump.

How to Kill a Tree Stump

If you want to avoid the above-mentioned risks that are associated with leaving a tree stump in your yard, including the risk of it becoming a tripping hazard, a pest attractor, or the regrowth of a new tree, you’re going to want to get rid of that stump. But how do you do that? There are a few different methods that you can use to get rid of a tree stump, the most common of which include:

Manual Removal

This method of killing a tree stump is best reserved for small or medium sized tree stumps. While you could potentially use remove a large tree stump manually, doing so might be extremely difficult and could prove to cause a lot of issues. In order to remove a tree stump manually, the first thing you’re going to need is brown. Muscle is absolutely essential for this method. You’ll also want to use a mattock, a tool that has a broad end that can be used for digging and a sharp end that can be used for slicing. Other tools that can be useful for the manual removal of a tree stump include a shovel, a steel digging bar, an ax, and a small and large bow saw. Of course, you’re also going to want to protect yourself by donning a pair of glasses or goggles, steel-toed boots, and work gloves.

Once you have all of your gear in place and you’re suited up, you can start working on removing the stump. Start by using the broad end of the mattock to dig around the stump. Once the dirt has been loosened, use a shovel to clear it out of the way. Using the other side of the mattock, chop through the tree roots. You could also use a small bow to sever the roots. Keep on digging and chopping your way underneath the rood ball until you reach the taproot (the primary root of the tree). Use a large bow saw and ax to cut through the taproot. Once you’ve cut through all roots, you should be able to work the stump out of the ground.


If the tree stump is on the larger size or if you aren’t keen on exerting the physical energy that the manual method requires, the chemical method might be a better alternative. While it doesn’t require elbow grease, this method does take longer to see results. It can take up to 3 hours to apply the chemicals and up to a year for the process to be completed.

In order to use the chemical method, you’ll need a drill and a large drill bit, a chainsaw or bow saw, water, a plastic tarp, mulch, and a potassium-nitrate tree stump removal in a granule form or a garden fertilizer that has a high-nitrogen level. Outfit your hands with protective gloves and put on a pair of protective glasses, too. Wearing steel-toed boots is also a good idea.

With your chainsaw or bow saw, cut the tree stump as close to the ground as you possibly can, using care not to allow the teeth of whichever saw you’re using to make contact with the ground. Once the stump is cut as near to the ground as possible, use your drill to bore holes a few inches in several locations around the top of the wood; the wider and deeper the holes you drill, the better. Fill up the holes you drilled in the stump with water and then fill the water-filled holes with your stump remover or fertilizer. Saturate the entire ground surrounding the tree stump and place a plastic top over top of the stump. Moisture is extremely important, and applying the tarp will help to retain the moisture in the stump and around the ground for as long as possible. Place organic mulch over the top of the plastic tarp, making sure that it’s fully covered. Thoroughly water the mulch-covered tarp. The moist mulch will not only help to secure the tarp, but it will also apply more moisture to the surface of the stump.

Check on the stump periodically by removing the mulch and tarp. Apply more water and fertilizer or stump remover as needed. Within about a month or so, the stump should start becoming soft and spongy. Once it does, use an ax to start breaking apart and removing whatever wood you can. Use the same process again until you have removed as much of the stump as possible. Once enough of the wood is gone, you can bury the remaining part with soil. Nature will take care of the rest of the decomposition for you.


Lastly, there’s the burning method. You can purchase either a liquid or powdered tree stump removal known as “Stump-Out” from your local hardware store. This product is specifically made to erode the fibers the wood contains, which will make the stump porous. Once the wood is porous, it will quickly absorb kerosene, so obviously, the next step is coating the stump with kerosene until it is thoroughly soaked. Next, ignite the kerosene-soaked wood. At first, the fire will likely produce high flames, but it will eventually lower and smolder.

Do note that as a safety precaution, make sure that you have a steady supply of water, such as a hose, readily available. Additionally, check the surrounding area to make sure that there isn’t anything flammable in the surrounding area. Look above the area, too, as low-hanging tree branches could potentially catch on fire.

How Much Would It Cost to Do the Job Myself?

The cost of purchasing the supplies that are needed to remove a tree stump yourself depends on several factors. These factors include the method that you will be using to remove the tree stump, your location (remember that prices vary from region to region), and the size of the tree stump. While the cost might be the same, regardless of size, if you’re using the manual method (though it will require more elbow grease do remove a larger stump), with the chemical and burning method, it will cost more to remove larger stumps than it would to remove smaller stumps.

Contact a Professional Instead

While the three methods described above are all certainly options that you could use to remove a tree stump on your own, if you’re looking for the easiest, most cost-effective solution, hire a professional instead. A pro will not only have the knowledge and experience that’s necessary, but they’ll also have access to the tools and equipment that are needed to successfully remove a tree stump. In the long run, hiring a professional would be a much more affordable, less frustrating, and more cost-effective approach.

Stump grinding can be tough work when you don’t have the right machines. Luckily, we do! Let us remove your stump for you.