This article was updated on 07/22/20.
We all like attractive landscaping, especially the components that are functional as well as beautiful, like avocado trees. Unfortunately, they have a finite life span and eventually must come down.
This article explains how to remove a tree stump easily without using a stump grinder. Its simply a matter of methodically trenching around the stump and cutting out the roots with a nursery digging spade and a utility bar.
Removing a Tree Stump
Many people find out that that cute tree they planted years ago is now a monster and the spreading roots are threatening to incur expensive home foundation or driveway repairs.
That problematic tree in the yard has been cut down and youve hauled away all the branches. All thats left now is that big tree stump sticking up out of the yard like a bad, aching molar. So howre you going to remove it? For most of us it boils down to three choices.
The first one is that you can call someone that has a stump grinder to take care it out for you. If this is the case, find local reviews arborists and landscape services like Angies List.
Secondly, you could go to a local home improvement center and rent a tree grinder to tackle the job. Thats a superior choice but it still involves renting a heavy piece of equipment.
Now this narrows it down to whats behind door number three the DIY way that we all love so much. This is how to go about removing a tree stump by yourself.
Stump Removal Tools Needed
This DIY project wont break the bank as far as tools are concerned. All homeowners should own a basic assortment of hand tools.
All purpose utility bar
Heavy duty digging spade
Flat file or bench grinder
Trench Around the Base with a Spade
Putting some weight on that shovel to move some dirt
The first and main operation in the stump removal process is carving out a trench 8 to 12 inches wide surrounding the radius of the tree stump. Its like a small moat. The inner side of the trench will be at a minimum of 15 to 20 inches away from your stump.
This will afford you lots of area to work with. Trench the moat downwards and in the direction of the stumps underside; think of a teacups shape. Use the spade to do this.
This trenching is easier when your dirt is wet, obviously, so tackle this job following a rain if possible. There are two objectives of this step: to methodically remove the trunk from the dirt and to
expose the stumps roots so that you can cut them out.
Cut Out the Stumps Roots
As your moat becomes deeper, it will begin to expose tree roots. Your utility bar will have a flat end for hammering on and on the other end a flat blade.
The blade should maintain a sharp edge for root cutting or itll work you like an underfed mule. If its not sharp, sharpen it using a file or bench grinder.
Youre going to take out sections of your stumps roots as you find them. Slash the sections at the inside and outside edges of your trench so that the roots wont get in the way of the digging process.
Drive the bars blade into a root beginning your cut and them slam the opposite end of the bar with your hammer to drive it through. If you need to sharpen your blade, do it. In most cases, itll dull up fairly quickly.
Give it a Wiggle
As you make progress, the tree trunk will become looser in the ground. Periodically wiggling it in a back and forth motion will make your trenching, if not more fun, more doable. Also, it will allow you an easier shot at roots going downward instead of out laterally.
Soon youll be at looking at the final anchor root (the tap root). Cut through it. All youve got to do now is get rid of the stump. Chop it up if its too large to handle. Youre done! That's how to remove a tree stump.
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About the Author:
Kelly R. Smith was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelors Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.