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Will Painting a Tree Stump Stop It From Growing?

Once you’ve removed a tree in your yard—whether it’s due to disease, old age, or storm damage—you’re left with a tree stump.

At the very least, the stump has none of the majesty or shade of a full tree, but also, many stumps will also start to grow sprouts. While this might sound like a great way to regrow your tree—that’s if you want to regrow your tree—the resulting growth won’t be of the same quality as the original tree. It will likely be unstable and have long branches growing from the stump rather than a full trunk. You may not like how this looks, since the sprouts will take quite a while to become a new tree and they may look “weedy” or strung out.

This may be something you want to avoid.

One question we are asked every so often is, will painting a tree stump stop it from growing into a new tree? A coat of paint may sound to be an easy solution, but it’s a band-aid for a problem you’ll still have to handle later.

You may not have the time to handle it now, but you also may not want to let the stump sit in your yard. If you let it rot, it can become a haven and a home for pests like insects or rodents, which could cause health concerns for you and your family.

So, besides painting, what are your options for dealing with the stump? Here are several options for handling your leftover tree stump.

1. Painting With Herbicide

Treating your stump with paint may not be all that effective, but “painting” will have better results. You may use a paintbrush or a sprayer for this particular task. Different trees sometimes require different herbicides, so do your research to get the best results with the product you buy. Make sure to choose a dry day to do this work, with no rain or high humidity in the forecast.

Since you’ll be working with a chemical, your personal protective equipment on hand should include rubber gloves and safety goggles. Follow the instructions on the product’s container as far as the product-to-water ratio.

The herbicide needs to be applied to fresh wood. If you paint it on already dead wood, you won’t see much change. If your tree has just been cut down, you can get started right away. If it’s been a while and the outside of the stump has dried out, you’ll have to trim down the first inch or two in order to get to fresh wood.

2. Leave the Stump and Do Something Creative With It

If you aren’t interested in removing the stump, there are plenty of creative things you can do with it. Enter “things to do with a tree stump” into any search engine, and you’ll get myriad ideas to sift through. After all, your tree was an interesting fixture of your yard before so the leftover stump can do the same. All it takes is a little imagination and a little additional work.

If the leftover stump is particularly wide, you can hollow out the inside and create a planter or make it into the stand for a planter or the base for a small raised flower bed. If the stump is tall and narrow, you can create a little fairy house, complete with a roof, surrounded by a picket fence for its fairy garden. You can create a tabletop and use it for tic-tac-toe or a chessboard.

Maybe you can carve it to make a little throne or chair, and then varnish it so the wood doesn’t rot or deteriorate. It could be a stand for a birdhouse or a birdfeeder. Maybe you or a local artist could use it to carve some decorative art. The sky’s the limit.

3. Grind the Stump

If the stump just has to go, grinding the stump is a great way to get it out of there and reclaim the space. Grinding a stump requires a little more planning ahead and some heavy equipment.

You’ll want to connect with 811 before you do any kind of digging or grinding because there could be underground utility lines in your area that you may need to avoid. Remember your safety gear: gloves, safety glasses, and hearing protection, and be sure that pets and kids are away from the area while you’re working.

It may take a couple of hours to grind down the stump so be sure to persist so you get all of it. When you’ve finished with the stump, check whether there are any large roots that you could still reach and grind out as well.

If you’re at all uncomfortable handling the stump grinder or don’t own one and don’t want to rent, it may be a better idea to hire a professional like Mr. Tree to do the stump grinding. They’ll have the right equipment and safety gear to complete the job. They’ll be able to get in and out and on their way, usually within the same day.

4. Dig the Stump Out

Digging the stump out is a great option if your tree stump is smaller or in a narrow space, and you could do this with some basic tools you already own. You can also save some money since you won’t need to rent any equipment, but be prepared to put in more effort if you choose this route.

Take a shovel and dig around the base of the stump. Once you’ve unearthed the roots, you can cut them using an ax or a saw. Without the roots, you should be able to pull the bulk of the stump out of the ground. If you see any other roots in there, try to pull them out too, and then fill the hole with topsoil or loam.

If you plan on replanting a tree in that space in the future, you can also fill it with compost and leave it for a year or two while the old roots are broken down into further compost for your new tree. This new soil combination will be fertile ground when you decide to replant in the future.

If you need help removing a stump, it’s always a great idea to leave it to the professionals. If you’re in the Portland or Vancouver area, reach out to Mr. Tree. We have the right tools and plenty of experience and would be happy to help remove that stump from your yard.