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Basic Tree Stump Removal Options

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Stump removal
Trav's Tree Services
Trav's Tree Services
November 20, 2017
minute read

Tree stumps are often horrible-looking safety hazards, which frustrate many homeowners, who struggle to find the best way to deal with them. They are usually remarkably resilient and put up a good fight as you try to remove them.

Tree stumps ruin the aesthetics of your property, represent a serious trip hazard and often harbour rodents and other pests. And although most top-notch tree services will encourage their customers to have all resulting stumps removed, and they’ll include such services in the overall price quote, cut-and-run-style amateurs often leave the problem to you.

There are a number of different ways you can remove the average tree stump, but each case is obviously unique, and no single technique is appropriate for all circumstances. The best way to proceed is with the help and guidance of a tree-care professional, who has experience removing stumps.

But whether you enlist the help of a professional or try to tackle the tree stump yourself, you have five basic options for doing so:

Burn It Away

You can get rid of a stump by burning it, although this method generally takes quite a bit of time. The oxygen-bathed outer portions of the stump will generally burn fairly quickly, but the internal portions often require a lengthy treatment with hot coals to combust completely.

Always be sure that you to keep fire safety in mind when attempting to burn away a tree stump. There are a variety of commercial accelerants, which will help speed up the process; just be sure to follow all of the manufacturer’s directions to the letter.

Grind It Down

The most common method for dealing with tree stumps, grinding allows you to get rid of a tree stump in a relatively safe and convenient manner. This is the most common method by which tree services and landscapers deal with tree stumps, and it should usually be considered the best option.

Modern stump grinders, which chew through the stump by using chisel-like teeth mounted to a spinning disc, make stump removal a fairly quick task. If used correctly, stump grinders are relatively safe, and they can completely eliminate the above-ground portions of the stump.

Pull It Up

If you’ve got plenty of heavy-duty chains or steel cable and a big, 4-wheel-drive vehicle, you may be able to yank the stump right out of the ground. Doing so will require considerable caution, and you’ll need to be very careful about how you attach the chain to the stump and to your truck, as it could cause significant injury or property damage if it slips loose during the process.

This method is only appropriate for relatively small stumps, as a large stump’s root system will make it very difficult to pull it free. Particularly enterprising homeowners may try to use pulleys to enjoy a greater mechanical advantage, but this is beyond the skill set and comfort level of those without formal training or experience.

Hack It to Pieces

Although it isn’t exactly a sophisticated approach to the problem, you can chop up a tree stump and the major roots with any number of hand tools (although an axe is probably the best option). Doing so is neither easy nor is it particularly safe for those who haven’t accumulated much experience swinging an axe around, but it is occasionally the only reasonable option.

You’ll spend a lot of time using this approach (and burn a bunch of calories in the process), so most homeowners will be wise to opt for one of the other options unless access to the stump is limited or it is situated too close to a building to burn it safely.


This is obviously a technique that is suitable for professionals, but explosives can be used to blast even the biggest stumps into a million tiny pieces. Because there are so many safer, easier and more cost-effective solutions for stump removal, explosives are rarely used in residential or commercial areas; it is generally used on vast tracts of land in rural areas.


If you are in need of some stump-removing guidance or help, give your friends at Trav’s Tree Service a call. One of our arborists will visit your property, assess the stump (or stumps) in question and recommend the best course of action. Before you know it, that unsightly and dangerous stump will be gone, and you’ll have reclaimed your property.

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