How to Remove a Tree Stump and Roots Safely and Easily

The stump and roots that remain after you cut down a tree are often difficult to deal with. Most of the tree removal services charge you extra for their removal (they are not included in the tree removal cost). Maybe that’s the reason why you get to see old stumps in people’s yards so often. However, it’s always better to remove them for safety and beauty of your home.

stump removal
image via Flickr by vastateparksstaff

There are different techniques for removal of tree stumps. You should choose the right one depending upon the type and age of the tree. If the stump is too hard and wide and the roots are long and deep, you may want to get help from a local tree service company in your area. For example, if you stay in the Portland metropolitan area, look out for a safe, reliable and certified company like Portland Tree Service. A professional service provider should be able to guide you with several aspects like suggesting the best time for removal, assessing the root structure, and using the right equipment and technique.

Following are the main techniques used for removing stump and roots of a tree:


This is probably the most straight-forward method. Dig around the stump until all the roots are exposed. If the roots are large and deep, you may need a powerful tool or equipment for digging and removing of soil. Cut the roots and pull them out using a lopper, saw or an axe. After all the roots are removed, dig underneath the stump and pull it out.


If a stump is too difficult to remove by digging, you may want to try the grinding method. You will need a heavy-duty grinder for this purpose. Clear rocks and other material from around the stump and cut away the stump with a chainsaw as close to the ground as possible. Take the grinder wheel above the stump, turn on the wheel and start grinding. Note that stump grinder is a dangerous machine. Make sure you have an experienced person to operate it.


Burning is another easy method to get rid of a stump. However, some areas may be subject to legal restrictions on open fires. So, first make sure that it is legal to burn a stump in your area.

Lay out enough scrap wood on and around the stump and light a fire. Keep adding more wood so that the fire keeps burning for several hours. Once the stump is burnt down to the ground, remove the ash and fill the hole with soil.

Using a Chemical

Rotting a stump with the help of chemicals makes it soft and easy to remove. Begin with drilling a series of vertical holes into the stump, each about 10 inches deep. Fill the holes with a stump remover chemical (which is usually potassium nitrate powder). Wait for a few weeks to let the stump rot. Once it’s ready, chop it up with an axe. Any part of the remaining stump and roots can be burnt down.

Remember that the stump removal chemical can be harmful if ingested. Keep kids and animals away from it (even from the stump that has been applied with this chemical).