How to Remove a Tree Stump


How to Remove a Tree Stump

How to Remove a Tree StumpHow to Remove a Tree Stump

So you’ve cut down that problem tree in your yard and hauled away the branches. Now all you’ve got left is that big stump staring defiantly at you. You are wondering how to remove a tree stump.

Well, you’ve basically got three choices. First, you could call someone with a tree grinder to come to take care of it for you. But hey, you are a do-it-yourself kind of person so that option is out.

Second, you could rent a tree grinder yourself and tackle it. That is a better option but it involves the hassle of renting an expensive piece of equipment. So that leaves you with option number three – doing it the old fashioned way.

Tools Needed

  • All-purpose utility bar
  • Nursery digging spade
  • Hammer
  • Hand file


The first step in the process of stump removal is digging out a trench about eight to twelve inches wide around your stump. You can think of it as a little moat.

The inside edge of the moat should be a minimum of fifteen to twenty inches from the stump to give you plenty of room to work. Dig the moat down and towards the center of the underside, like the shape of a teacup. Use the spade to do this.

This digging works best when the soil is moist, obviously, so it is best to tackle this project after a rain. The purpose of this step is twofold: to gradually separate the trunk structure from the earth and to reveal the stump’s roots as they meander away from the trunk.

Cut Those Roots

As your trench gets deeper, you will start to expose roots. The utility bar has a flat end to hammer on and a flat-bladed end on the opposite end. The blade should have a pretty good edge on it for root cutting purposes. If not, sharpen it up with a hand file or a grinder.

You are going to want to remove exposed sections of the roots as you encounter them. Cut the sections out at both edges of the trench so the remaining root ends will not impede your digging. Slam the blade into the root to begin the cut and them whack the other end with the hammer. If you find that you need to re-sharpen the blade, do so.

The further you go, the looser you will find the tree trunk becoming. Periodically wobbling it back and forth will make the digging, if not more pleasant, more manageable. In addition, it will allow you easier access to the roots that go down rather than out.

Before you know it you will be at that last anchor root. Slice through it and recover your prize!

Stump Grinders for Tree Removal

Although most homeowners are glad to have plenty of trees in their yard, there are times when a tree has become an annoyance, is diseased or for other reasons just needs removal. For the do-it-yourself homeowner, renting a stump grinder will be essential to this process.

If you only have one stump to grind, experts recommend hiring a tree service, but if you have more than one stump or a neighbor who wants to split the rental cost with you, then renting a stump grinder makes perfect sense.

Tree Removal

After you cut down the tree (and depending on the size, experts generally recommend a chainsaw for this job), you can rent a stump grinder from just about any home improvement warehouse or tool rental store. These are walk-behind stump grinders, not the large, trailer-carried grinders brought in by professional tree service workers.

The stump grinder has an engine near the center, a cutting wheel at one end and a handle for you at the other. The cutting wheel will likely be mounted in a vertical direction; the cutting wheel does not saw the stump, but grinds it, reducing your tree stump to chips. It goes without saying that protective eyewear is a must.


As you go through the stump grinder rental process at the store, you should be instructed in its use as well as how to use it safely. Be careful to move all rocks, buried pipes, electric wires, concrete, bricks, or any other matter that might be in your yard. Those items can become airborne and dangerous if kicked up by the stump grinder. Rocks and other hard products will also dull the teeth of the stump grinder. Keep children far away when doing this job as well.

As you begin using the stump grinder, experts recommend not trying to force the machine to take a cut or do grinding. Your job is to not force the machine, but let it lead and feed itself. If the teeth on the cutting wheel are kept sharp, the machine will effortlessly feed itself, while dull teeth are more likely to grab and make the stump grinder jump.

If used carefully, operating a stump grinder can be a rewarding yard improvement task for any homeowner.

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