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What Is the Best Stump Remover?

A tree stump on your property is more than just an eyesore. It can pose a danger to people and property if it isn’t promptly removed. Even after the tree has been felled, the roots can continue to grow, clogging pipes, causing the sidewalk to buckle, and creating a tripping hazard for people outside. The stump itself can also sprout shoots that will prove to be a drain on the resources the other plants in your yard need to survive. That’s why it’s important to remove the stump promptly after a tree has been removed from your property.

Of course, tree stumps are stubborn beasts. Removing them isn’t always the easiest task. There are several ways to make the process more manageable. Renting a stump grinder and physically grinding the stump into mulch is one possibility, albeit one of the more expensive options. Burning the stump away is another option, although one that must be closely watched since it involves a controlled fire. Yet another option is to use the best stump remover you can find.

What Is Stump Remover?

Tree stump remover is a chemical that, when used properly, accelerates the decomposition process of tree stumps. So while it’s extremely difficult to dig a tree stump out of the ground or to cut it apart for disposal, a stump remover will cause it to rot and soften. After a few weeks, it will become spongey and can be broken apart much more easily with an ax or shovel.

How Is It Used?

Stump remover is generally purchased in powdered or liquid form. Some powders require you to mix them with water before application. To successfully rot the tree stump, you need to drill a few holes in the stump and pour the mixture in. Then you must wait a few weeks as the mixture penetrates and absorbs into the wood.

A large part of the reason that wood is so strong and tough is that its cell walls are made up of an organic polymer called lignin. A stump remover chemical thins this compound, causing the wood to become much softer and easier to remove.

Are There Any Risks?

Because stump removers are chemicals, it’s important to keep them away from children and pets. During the period where your stump remover is decomposing the remains of the tree stump in your yard, you should make sure no children or animals can play on or near it.

You’ll also need to take great care when using your stump remover to ensure it doesn’t harm any of the surrounding plants or trees. Your goal is only to rot away the stump itself, but if the chemicals get anywhere else, they can also kill the grass in your lawn and other nearby plant life.

How To Choose The Best Stump Remover

There are several chemicals that might be used for stump removal, and they aren’t all created equal. Choosing the right one depends upon a couple of things: your budget, whether you have any other nearby plants or trees you want to avoid harming, whether there are roots you also need to kill, and how easy you want the stump removal process to be after the decomposition is complete.

Potassium Nitratemr-tree-what-is-the-best-stump-remover

One of the most popular stump removal chemicals is potassium nitrate. This stump remover has several advantages over other options. Usually coming in the form of granules, potassium nitrate makes the wood of your tree stump soft and porous—and therefore more easy to remove—without posing a risk to surrounding vegetation. It’s also odorless, which not all stump removers are.

Potassium nitrate products are also generally cheaper than other options. The only major disadvantage of this stump remover is the time and effort involved. You need to spend some time drilling holes in the tree stump itself. Then you have to wait a number of weeks and spend some time breaking the stump apart and pulling all the parts of it away.

Copper Sulfate

Another popular stump remover, copper sulfate is a very powerful chemical that doesn’t require much to do its work. The great benefit—or drawback—of this material is that it doubles as a potent herbicide. That means that it can be used for a lot more than just removing stumps. It will kill off algae, mosquito larvae, fungi, and weeds as well. Of course, this also means that the chemical can very easily kill off plants that you want to keep, such as lawn grass and other surrounding plant life.

If you decide to use copper sulfate as your stump remover, you have to take great care as to where it ends up in your yard. Do not allow it to get on any plants that you don’t want to lose.


Another powerful herbicide and fungicide, triclopyr is used to rot stumps as well as to remove tough brushes and other stubborn weeds. It isn’t especially expensive and can be a great material to use if you want to clear a whole lot of brush and other invasive growth. Much like copper sulfate, however, it has a tendency to destroy every plant it comes into contact with. That’s why if you have a carefully curated garden, triclopyr shouldn’t be brought anywhere near it.

Other Options

For most yards, the best stump remover is probably potassium nitrate. However, as we’ve mentioned, it works slowly and will still require a good bit of effort on your end before the stump can be removed. If you want to remove a stump more quickly—and without putting any surrounding plant life at risk—then you can also look into hiring the services of a professional arborist. A professional—like one from Mr. Tree Services—can remove the stumps from your yard in a quick and efficient manner, without requiring the use of chemicals or expensive equipment rentals.