Stump grinding is the fastest, most professional method of getting rid of an old tree stump. However, there are a few other ways that you can remove a tree stump and save money, time, and effort in the process. These methods work best on small to medium stumps, and may require a lot of manual labor. The other methods include burning, adding chemicals, and letting the stump rot. These methods will take a bit longer, but they are still an affordable alternative to hiring a stump grinder or paying for a professional service.
When a stump is ground, there is usually a large pile of mulch left above ground. This mulch is rich in organic material that decomposes quite quickly. Many gardeners choose to use this mulch in their landscape, rather than leaving it where the stump once was. It is also very spongy, and is a great environment for planting, as it provides excellent moisture to the soil around it.
If you don’t want to use a stump grinder or you don’t have the time, you can starve the stump of sunlight by covering it with a plastic tarp and a thick layer of organic mulch, such as wood chips or hay. This will keep it from being exposed to sunlight, and encourage rotting and decay. You can add a nitrogen source to speed up the rotting process, such as potassium nitrate pellets or commercial stump remover products.
After the tarp tree stump removal and mulch are placed, monitor the stump. It should begin to rot and soften within a few weeks. If not, add more nitrogen and continue to monitor it. Eventually, the stump should become spongy enough to cut up with an ax and remove from the site.
You can also speed up the rot and deterioration of the stump by soaking it periodically. Water rots wood quite effectively, and the more water it has access to, the faster it will break down. You can also add a chemical to the stump that stimulates the breakdown of wood and improves its ability to rot. Stumps that are buried in the ground will take much longer to rot than those that are exposed to sunlight and air.
The last option for removing a stump is to burn it. If the stump is small enough to fit in a fire pit, you can burn it. Otherwise, you will need to dig down to the level of the roots and build a fire beneath the stump. You can also pour a flammable liquid on the stump to encourage it to burn, but this is not a very safe option and it doesn’t always work well.
When you are done with your stump, remove any ash and soil that is loose around the base of the stump, then fill the hole with a combination of sawdust and loam. The loam will help the stump settle into the ground, and the sawdust will provide organic material for the surrounding soil as it breaks down.