If your landscape has a tree stump, you might be wondering what you should do with it. Leaving it in place means you’ll have your lawn around the tree stump while also using caution not to trip and fall on it. Depending on the particular tree species, though, stumps can have roots extending as deep as 2 feet into the ground, making them difficult for the average homeowner to remove. Thankfully, there are several ways to deal with an unwanted tree stump in your landscape.
For stumps with shallow roots — extending no deeper than 1 foot — you should be able to dig it out. A mini excavator is ideal for this project, though even a shovel will suffice. Just dig a trench with about a 2- to 3-foot clearance around the stump, at which point you can dig underneath the stump’s roots to remove it.
Burning is an effective, time-tested way to deal with a tree stump. But you can’t just start a fire on top of the stump and expect it to burn away the stump. Rather, you’ll need to dig out a hole or cavity in the center of the stump, at which point you can fill it with tinder and kindling. Once lit, the stump should catch fire and slowly burn. Keep in mind that it can take several days for a stump to completely burn. During this time, either you or someone you know should monitor the smoldering tree stump to ensure the fire doesn’t spread.
One of the easiest ways to deal with a tree stump is to chop it up. While possible with an ax, it’s recommended that you use a gas-powered stump grinder for this project. You can rent them for about $100 to $200 per day — or you can hire a tree/stump removal company to chop it up for you. Either way, a stump grinder will make quick work of your unwanted tree stump (or stumps) by chopping and grinding them to a pulp.
There are chemical-based products available that are designed specifically to destroy tree stumps. Available for sale at most home improvement stores, chemical-based stump-removal products generally contain potassium nitrate. Contrary to what some people believe, this chemical doesn’t burn stumps. Instead, it works by speeding up the stump’s natural decaying process. Tree stumps can linger for years or even decades, slowly drying out and decaying until there’s nothing left. If you treat a stump with potassium nitrate, however, it may decay in as little as one or two months. Once decayed, you can then dig out or chop up the stump using some basic tools.
If the tree stump is located in a convenient area, you could try turning it into a stool for your landscape. To do this, cut down the stump to an appropriate seating height of about 23 to 28 inches, at which point you can apply a wood sealer to the top surface. The wood sealer will create a waterproof barrier over the stump, protecting it from moisture and pests. You can then use the stump as a stool when relaxing or lounging in your outdoor living space.
Another innovative way to deal with a tree stump is to grow plants on it. There are a few ways to grow plants on a tree stump, one of which is to simply place a soil-filled planter or container on top of it. Alternatively, you can cut out a hollow cavity in the middle of the tree stump, fill it with soil and then add your plants.
While you can grow any type of plants on a tree stump, vine plants are ideal because of their natural ability to grow down and around the stump. As the vine plants grow, they’ll cover your tree stump with colorful flora. Just remember to water and prune the plants as needed.
Finally, you can use medium- and large-sized tree stumps as a table for your landscape or outdoor living space. Just place a couple of chairs or stools around the stump, and you’re good to go! You can place cups, drinks or other items on the tree stump — just like a conventional patio or outdoor table. It’s an innovative way to handle unwanted tree stumps in a landscape.
Don’t let your landscape suffer from an unwanted tree stump. Use one of the seven methods listed here to deal with it. Whether you dig it up, treat it with chemicals, turn it into a stool or use any of the other methods listed here, you’ll create a more attractive landscape that improves your home’s curb appeal.
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