How to kill & remove tree stumps & roots + best killers

Trees spice up our farms and homes but there comes a time when the inevitable has to happen and we are forced to cut down a tree that is decades old, if not more. Cutting down trees is pretty easy especially when you hire a person to do it but spending more money on hiring professionals to deal with this can turn out to be expensive.

heart shaped tree

Stumps left after trees have been felled are an eyesore and require to be dealt with in the fastest and most economical DIY method we can. Leaving them at your home that have not been killed will lead to other plants mushrooming from the remains.

How do you kill them fast?

Killing tree stumps and roots fast tops our wishlist immediately after we fell a tree but getting it done becomes a nuisance that troubles us so often. Plants shooting off the and roots makes our homes, gardens and farms so much worse that we wanted when cutting down the tree, for wahteve reason.

There are many methods that we can apply to kill the stumps and roots almost immediately to a few days after cutting down a tree. The methods discussed here have been tried and worked successfully for so many different people who were previously faced by a similar problem.

stump being removed

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Killing tree stumps fast requires methods that apply more of mechanical action than chemical action thus methods like;

  1. Using a grinder
  2. Digging out roots.
  3. Burning it

become more effective yielding the results required.

How to kill tree stump and roots fast

Killing tree stumps needs prior planning with some requiring you to prepare well in advance to acquire the money for materials and skills to carry out the daunting task which will be ahead of you. The methods used should be chosen as keenly as you would choose a basement crawl space humidifier, chest freezers or garage floor tiles epoxy.

We have discussed some of the methods involved and how to go about once you decide on which to go on with;

1.)              Using a grinder.

stump grinder

Use of grinders has come out on top of the methods that you can apply to kill tree stumps as well as remove them from the compound within the shortest time possible, the same way we need air conditioners in summer.

Stump grinders are encouraged for people who enjoy carrying out physical tasks while at home in their free time either by themselves or with their families. Just like flux core welders you are advised to read and understand the instructions before use.

To use a grinder first you should consider hiring one from the local store where they stock and to know the cost of hiring one. You should also get to know which grinder they have in stock and whether it is favorable for the task you are about to embark on.

Get the right dimensions of the stump remover if you have obstacles in your intended working area like garden gates or get to know the grinder ground clearance in case you are working in a rocky area. If unsure of the dimensions use our SAE to Metric chart. These will help you prepare well in advance before the D- day.

Renting these machines is quite costly thus it is advisable that before you acquire one you ensure that all the preparations are ready so that you don’t get charged for time that you did not actually use the piece of equipment. The preparations made before using a grinder should be meticulous the same way we are required when setting up amp wires and breakers.

Before renting it, ensure that you have a means of transport reliable enough to get the machine to your work site. Some companies will have it delivered and pick it once you are done but others leave it to you to cater for its transportation.

How to remove them with a grinder

Burning it Digging it out Removers

tree being removed

Removal of tree stumps requires enough preparation time to give you an easier time while operating the grinder.

Step 1: Make sure you have your personal protective equipment (PPE) required when operating the grinder. The PPEs include; safety goggles, ear muffs, safety boots with steel toe caps to lessen the severity of any accident that may occur.

Step 2: With a shovel or mattock, clear the area surrounding the stump by removing any unwanted material e.g., rocks.

Step 3: Using a chainsaw reduces the tree stump to a lower level to make it easier for the grinder to work on it from the ground level.

Step 4: Position the grinder wheel a few centimeters above the stump and turn it on.

Step 5: Lower the wheel to the stump and move it side to side, letting it do its work.

Step 6: Grind it until its diameter is evenly around 4” below the surface.

Step 7: Fill the hole left with chips and loosen top surface soil to cover it.

       2.) Digging it out

Another effective method of dealing with tree stumps and roots left after the tree has fallen, is to remove both. You should note that this method is only advisable for small to medium sized trees as larger sizes will have you working longer than is necessary and at times you will be unable to complete the task.

Step 1: Dig around the stump, deep enough to get to the roots.

Step 2: Remove the loose soil to gain access to the roots.

Step 3: Cut off the roots.

Step 4: Continue digging in an effort to get to the main root which is the tap root.

Step 5: Cut off the tap root and remove everything.

       3.) Burning

Burning takes very little time to kill it as compared to chemical processes that may take up to several months to achieve the same result. Before you start burning, you need to start the preparation process two days prior for you to completely burn it down.

Step 1: Drill holes into the stump that will create space in which you can pour your fuel and for proper air circulation for burning to take place.

Step 2: Pour a removal powder to make the wood porous.

Step 3: Pour the fuel – either kerosene or fuel oil, and leave it to be absorbed.

Step 4: Set it on fire, leaving it to burn while you are around to prevent the fire from spreading. Once it has been burnt to your satisfaction, extinguish the fire and cover with top soil.

Before you use burning as a method, ensure that the local laws allow for such practices to be carried out.

Does stump killer really work & what is it?


What is a stump killer?

A stump killer is defined as a chemical substance that you can apply to kill and accelerate its rotting process before you can successfully remove it.

They are the preferred method when dealing with several stumps that require being killed and removed. Since it is more of a hands-off approach you can easily deal with all them all on the same day (if you have several) unlike the mechanical methods like digging up where it could take up to a day to remove one from the ground.

This method is preferred due to its low cost of operation and you can work on the project alone without getting very tired. For instance, you could prepare more than 5 stumps in a day while using these chemical solutions.

Many people are skeptical of these, casting doubts on whether they work or not but if applied correctly and following the manufacturer’s instructions, they do work.

It is important to note that unlike the mechanical methods the chemical methods may take several months to work but their effectiveness is unmatched. They work by speeding up decomposition leading to earlier rotting of what remains.

For ones already rotten, you can pick up a pick axe to chip it out till you get to a level below the ground which you consider low enough not to be a nuisance and now cover the remaining part with top soil or grass.

How long does it take for this chemical to work?

They do not have a defined time frame in which they work with but their effectiveness and results depend on the type that needs to be worked on. Generally, hardwoods take a longer time to decompose than softwoods thus for the same brand and amount applied on both, the hardwood would take longer time to decompose.

However, it is estimated that this process takes 2-8 weeks to work.

How to rot one

Accelerating the rate of decay frequires much planning and preparation to ensure that all goes on as planned. First, you need a compound rich in nitrogen, the commonly used product is nitrogen-based fertilizers since nitrogen speeds up the rate of decay. For people living in areas with animal manure that too can be used.

We have outlined some of the steps needed below:

Step 1: Using a chainsaw, cut the stump as near to the ground as possible.

Step 2: Drill holes both vertically and diagonally with a large drill to ensure that the airflow will be enough to aid in the process.

Step 3: Remove the bark and loosen the soil around it to ensure there is proper aeration.

Step 4: Pour the type of chemical that you will have chosen and add water. The water applied will help the chemical applied soak faster into the tree.

Step 5: cover the ground around and on top with mulch and pour water on top and around. It will soak in the water which will speed up the rotting more.

Chemical options

Chemical killers are preferred because they are less involving, requiring you to just prepare the stump, apply whatever chemical you have chosen to be your method and sit back and wait for it to die undisturbed.

Chemical methods use substances like round-up or Spetra-cide to hasten the decomposition, making the wood more porous and easier to remove once it is fully decomposed.

How to apply

Step 1: Cut the stump till you get as close to the ground as you can.

Step 2: Using a drill bill drill holes that are almost 1” wide on top of the stump to provide spaces for where you will pour the chemical. Try to make the holes at least about 5-7 inches deep for the chemical to get as far as possible.

Step 3: Apply the chemical pouring it in the drilled holes as advised by the manufacturer on the packaging paper. If the chemical is in granular form, it is advisable that you add some water for maximum absorption.

Step 4: from time to time check the rotting process to determine whether to add more chemicals. In a few weeks it will have decayed ready for removal with a pick axe or by digging it out.

Best tree stump killers

There are thousands of stump killers in the market today and getting to know the best has always proven to be a daunting task. However, after using different products on different occasions and consulting professionals we were able to come up with a list of the top tree solutions.

The majority of these products use potassium nitrate to accelerate the decaying process due to its high nitrogen composition.

1.     Roundup tree stump and root killer

Roundup is a product that uses glyphosate as its main component to effectively kill the remaining growth, and its roots by systemic action. Once the herbicide is sprayed or poured, it is absorbed and transported to the roots by the freshly cut tree.

Roundup can also be used in killing weeds that are a nuisance growing on gravel, pathways or gardens. It is so potent that it easily kills the Japanese Knotweed easily which is so hard to kill.

Method of application

A cup of Roundup is diluted with 9 cups of water. Spray the mixture on a freshly cut area. The sprayed mixture will then be absorbed, killing the roots thus stopping regeneration of the plant.

For optimal results follow the instructions on the packaging. It takes 2-4 weeks for the decomposition to take place.

After removal of the stumps and the roots, take about a week before planting anything new on the same spot for the plants to grow.

With Roundup you get good value for your money because a 250 ml bottle can be effectively used 16 times and you can also use it to kill weeds and other plants.

2. Spectracide

Spectracide is potassium nitrate based which is preferred for use because it does not affect neighboring plants when used. It is also a pocket friendly option best recommended for medium sized tree trunks.

It is designed with an easy pour opening where you can direct the granule to where you want without wastage through spillovers. For optimal dissolution and results you are advised to use hot water.

3. Gordon’s, 32 oz

Gordon’s is a ready-to-use option which decays the remains all the way to the roots and is used with a brush killer. It has so much potency that the 32 oz bottle can be split across several times before disposal.

It comes in fluid form packaged in a squirt bottle designed to make it easier for application of the liquid into the drilled holes. You can add water after pouring the highly concentrated liquid to make it be used for more time.

You need to be careful when using it because it kills the surrounding vegetation and plants.

4.                 Bonide

Made from an inorganic substance known as sodium metabisulfite, Bonide is granular packaged in a can with an easy-to-use cap for application.

Bonide stamp out is designed for trees that are 12 months or older and require to be decayed. You can use it on freshly cut ones but for preventing plant regeneration after which you will require a second application for decaying months later. You can use it to kill weeds in your garden as well.

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