That old tree stump on your property has become more than just an eyesore. It’s become a hazard, something you almost trip over every time you’re outside enjoying your yard. It’s also become a possible haven for termites, which you definitely don’t want to move into your house. You’d like to plant something new in the space the stump is taking up, but to do that, you have to remove the stump first.
Maybe you’ve already gone outside to see if you can remove the stump on your own, only to discover it’s no easy task. For a large tree stump, you can’t simply dig the stump up with a shovel and carry it off. Stumps are large, very heavy, and most of all, excellent at doing their jobs, which is to anchor large trees and prevent them from falling, even in bad weather or other adverse conditions.
How Stumps Are Removed
If you want to remove a stump, you’ll have to weaken it first. There are a number of ways you can do this, depending upon your budget and the amount of time you’re willing to devote to the job. Probably the fastest method is to rent a stump grinder and physically grind away the stump, however, this can also prove to be a bit pricey since the equipment rental is not cheap.
Rotting the stump chemically is another option. Multiple holes are drilled in the stump and then a chemical such as potassium nitrate is poured in. Over time, the chemical will degrade the cell walls of the wood, causing the stump to become spongey and easier to remove. This method is effective, but it can take a very long time before it finally gets the job done.
Another popular method of stump removal is burning. Burning the stump will weaken it enough to remove it without the use of expensive equipment or an incredibly long wait. Of course, this method involves a controlled fire, so it comes with a few risks of its own.
How To Burn a Stump
Burning tree stumps requires a few key tools and materials. Saltpeter or potassium nitrate will work as the catalyst for the burn. You’ll also need a drill that can bore into wood easily. Some hot water, a funnel, a gardening trowel, and some matches are also necessary tools for the job. Finally, you’ll need a shovel to dig away the remains of the stump when the job is finally done.
The first step is to drill many eight- to ten-inch-deep holes all around the top of the stump, leaving about an inch or so of space between each one. Then use your gardening trowel to put the saltpeter or potassium nitrate into each of these holes. After you’ve done this, use the funnel to fill the holes the rest of the way with hot water, one by one. The water will dissolve the saltpeter or potassium nitrate and allow it to be absorbed into the entirety of the stump and rendering it appropriately flammable.
Using a little tinder or kindling, build a small fire on the top of the stump. Eventually, this will cause the tree stump to begin smoldering, which will cause it to turn entirely into charcoal and ash. You can then easily break the tree stump apart and dig it out. You won’t need to dig up all the pieces of tree root that are under the earth, as they’ll eventually rot away without any issue.
A Word on Safety
Of course, if you’re going to opt for a controlled burn to remove your tree stump, you must make sure you do it as safely as possible. The entire process can take anywhere from 12 to 24 hours, so you’ll need to remain nearby, keeping an eye on things that whole time: don’t plan to burn your stump when you’ll be away from home. Fire can easily spread to nearby structures or woods. Make sure, also, that you use the right chemicals for burning tree stumps. Don’t use something that will create a huge, roaring fire (such as gasoline). The key is to allow the stump to burn away gradually.
It’s important to ensure the stump doesn’t catch anything else nearby on fire. It’s critical to keep the surrounding area wet if possible and to move any flammable materials far away.
Also note that before you burn anything, you must make sure it won’t produce any toxic fumes that can pose a hazard to people or pets who live in the area. While most trees can burn safely, there are a few species that will release toxins when they’re set on fire—such as oleander, Mexican elder, or anything with the word “poison” in its name—so make sure to find out if the tree stump you are attempting to remove is safe to burn and far removed from plants that could be dangerous.
Rules for Burning Tree Stumps
It’s also important to ensure that when you do burn a stump away, you do so legally, following all of your local laws and ordinances. The last thing you want is a hefty fine or another legal issue just because you were trying to remove an old tree stump. In many areas, burning tree stumps is entirely illegal (as is burning anything else).
In other areas, you’ll need to get permission from your local government before attempting to burn a stump because there’s the possibility that doing so can pose a risk to a nearby sewage line or gas main. Before you attempt to burn a tree stump to remove it, do some research on your local ordinances to discover what is and is not allowed in your area.
If you do discover that burning tree stumps is not legal in your area, don’t worry. It’s still possible to remove them without a huge hassle or renting costly equipment. Simply contact your local tree service, such as Mr. Tree, and ask them to perform the task for you instead. In this way, you can remove old tree stumps quickly, affordably, and most importantly, safely.