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Keeping a yard neat and clean can take a lot of work. Keeping the grass trimmed, the flower bed tended to, and a million other things can go into making your outdoor space look precisely how you want. Tending to the trees is a task in and of itself.

Simply pruning a tree or cutting out branches can be difficult enough. If the tree is rotted or shedding leaves all over the place, there is the added task of cutting down that tree. This can be difficult and dangerous, usually requiring professional assistance.

The thing is that once the tree has been cut down, the problem may not be resolved. There are actually tree species that will send sprouts from their roots and stumps for some time after the tree itself gets removed.

In some instances, these sprouts can pop up around 30 days after the time the tree has been cut down.

This is because the tree itself is dead, but the stump and roots can continue to live without it. The sprouting is meant to replace the dead tree as if it were a naturally occurring instance.

This can be defeating given that the idea was to cut down the tree in the first place. Not only that, it can be potentially hazardous. Roots unknowingly growing can spread underground, damaging sidewalks, pipes, and other areas of a property.

Thankfully, there are steps to be taken to not only remove the tree, but to stop root and trunk sprouting.

1 – Stump-Killing Herbicide

Application of Herbicide on a Tree Stump

One of the most effective ways to get rid of that pesky stump after a tree removal is to use a stump-killing herbicide. Generally speaking, you will want to apply this right before you cut down the tree or within 30 minutes of taking down the tree.

Also, the spring is actually the most effective time of the year when it comes to killing a fresh-cut stump in your yard.

There are two types of herbicide: brush-on and spray-on. Both of these have been specifically created for killing stumps and preventing their future growth. If you have already performed the cut, make sure to apply your herbicide over the entire area of the stump that has been cut.

Read the instructions first because they might tell you something different. Follow whatever the manufacturer directions are for that particular herbicide.

With these types of stump-killing herbicides, they won’t enter into the soil or have an impact on plants in the area if applied properly. The ingredients in the herbicide will move down the stump, traversing into the roots. This effectively poisons the roots, killing them and preventing any further growth.

If there are still sprouts popping up here and there after removing the stump, just apply the herbicide to those sprouts. This is common as there can be roots that are too far from where the trunk is for the stump chemical to properly reach it (or where stump killer wasn’t used).

For the more aggressive approach involving herbicides, you can use a herbicide that is meant for broadleaf weeds. If you can’t find that, try using a nonselective herbicide. This type of herbicide is meant to kill any vegetation that it comes into contact with.

Grass and Weeds Dying From Herbicide

When using this method, be certain that you are okay if another plant within the area winds up dying. That can be a nasty surprise if you aren’t aware of the effects of a nonselective herbicide.

It is important that you follow manufacturer directions with these herbicides. These are dangerous chemicals and mishandling them can be dangerous not only for other plants within the area, but for you as well.

Not only that, there are some herbicides that can actually damage the soil, remaining persistent even after the initial application. If there are plants you wish to protect, take proper precautions to do so.

If you plan on planting in that area again in the near future, pick a product that will break down sooner rather than later so that the soil isn’t impacted.

When sprouts appear, you can simply apply the herbicide where you need to. But if there are plants near the area where the stump was, you may want to consider digging up the sprouts by hand. It is better to be safe than sorry.

To dig up the sprout, start by digging around the entirety of the sprout and make sure that you go a few inches below surface level. You will want to snip the sprouts off below the ground level.

You can do this with some pruning shears or scissors. When finished, cover the soil to block off any sunlight.

Killing the sprouts as they appear depletes the food reserves that the roots have stored. It may take some time, but eventually the roots will run out of stores and those nasty sprouts will stop popping up where the stump once was.

2 – Deeper Chemical Use

Felled Tree With Blue Plugs of Glyphosate to Kill Wood

Using herbicides can still result in sprouts popping up here and there, which can result in a frustrating experience. So, if you want to get a more effective removal measure, try applying stump-killing chemicals directly into the stump.

This method might take a few applications, but it is also one of the easiest ways to keep the tree from sprouting up again through those sprouts. Those sprouts can be the most difficult part of the entire tree removal process.

To start, you need to drill holes all across the surface of the trunk. If you can get deeper into the stump, the better the results will end up being. When you have drilled your holes, find a stump killer that is commercially available and then fill the holes accordingly.

As mentioned with the stump-killing herbicides above, take precautions when using these. Read manufacturer warnings and directions before doing anything because it can be potentially hazardous to other plants in the area.

Take those broadleaf weed killers. Those are made with glyphosate. This is an effective way to kill stubborn stumps in your yard, but it can potentially spread into other plants and trees that the roots of your former tree may have been near.

This can be damaging or deadly for those plants and leave you needing to replace any plants that fall into the line of fire.

Another important point worth mentioning is your own personal safety. These are hazardous chemicals. Make certain that you are taking the proper steps to keep yourself safe during this process. Wear safety goggles, gloves, and a long sleeve shirt.

Make certain that you keep this out of reach of any children that may be around, too. Always treat these chemicals with the respect they deserve because they can be dangerous if handled improperly.

3 – Stump Grinder

Stump Grinder Removing the Stump of a Cut Down Tree

This is typically a last-ditch effort as it can tend to be a bit more expensive to rent a stump killer than to buy a few chemical herbicides. Still, a stump killer can be a very effective measure for removing those resilient stumps from your yard.

Keep in mind that not only is a stump grinder quite a bit more expensive, it will also take a substantial amount of work to get the job done. If this is the method that you go with, keep your weekend free to ensure that you get the job completely done.

Generally speaking, your average stump grinders are gas-powered. Not only that, they will run you in the neighborhood of $100 to $200 every day that you need it.

If you have tried the other methods and they don’t seem to be doing the job, keep this cost in mind beforehand. It can be a little bit of a shock to get to the rental place and hear that number without knowing what to expect.

As is the case with the herbicides, you will want to go above and beyond with safety measures. Herbicides are dangerous in their own, different way. A stump grinder can be extremely dangerous if treated with anything less than the utmost care and attention.

Before you take the equipment off of the rental property, make sure that the dealer shows you each of the controls as well as the safest way to operate the machine. This will take some extra time, but it is worth it when it comes to protecting yourself from the dangers that a stump grinder offers.

Continuing with the safety directive, be certain that you have proper eye and ear protection. Goggles and proper ear protection will be needed. Stump grinders aren’t predictable when it comes to debris. Goggles will protect you from random pieces of stump that can get thrown this way or that.

Stump grinders are also very loud. Without proper ear protection, you run the risk of doing unnecessary damage to your hearing during the process of using the machine. Take the extra steps to be safe when using a stump grinder.

It is also important that you remove any rocks that may be near the base of your tree stump before you begin grinding the stump. Not only are rocks another potentially dangerous projectile that can be launched from the stump remover, it can damage the equipment, too.

The very last thing that you want is to damage the stump grinder. It can be quite expensive to replace a damaged or broken stump grinder on top of your rental fee.

Forestry Worker Cutting the Stump of a Spruce Tree With a Chainsaw

If you have a chainsaw you can make the entire process a little easier as well. Use your chainsaw to cut the stump down even further. The closer you can get to the ground, the easier it should be to feed the rest into the stump grinder.

This can make the entire grinding process substantially easier than if you tried to grind the entire stump with no other efforts.

Lastly, start the process of grinding the stump. There is a hydraulic lever that you use to raise the grinder above the stump, slowly lowering it down onto the stump.

The grinder will then move from side to side, clearing the wood as it passes. Eventually, it will work its way into the ground, removing the roots as well.

When you have finished using the stump grinder, turn it off and fill the hole with topsoil to even out the area.

4 – Burning the Stump

Burnt Stump in Green Grass

Be very careful if you use this method. It should go without saying that fire is dangerous and not to be taken lightly.

Not only that, you will need to check out any local ordinances in your area to see if burning stumps is even permissible. You don’t need any fines for trying to remove that stump.

If burning the stump is okay, start by drilling a few holes in the stump. Make sure that they are around 8 to 10 inches in depth and be certain that any debris in the hole has been cleared away.

Next, it is time to scoop some potassium nitrate into the holes. When this is complete, fill the holes with some hot water. The water acts to dissolve the potassium nitrate and distributes it all throughout the stump.

When this part of the process has been completed, take the scrap wood that you dug out of the holes earlier and light them on fire, placing them in the holes. They will begin to smolder, with the eventual result being that the whole stump has now been turned into ash.

This could take a little bit of time, but do not let the stump out of your sight. Fire is unpredictable and leaving the stump untended could potentially allow the fire to spread without your knowledge.

When the stump has completely turned to ash, you can remove it. A shovel is the most effective method for getting rid of that many ashes.

There are plenty of ways to get rid of those pesky stumps. It depends on how much work you want to put in and how effective the method you plan on using is.

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Author

I have a bachelor's degree in construction engineering. When I’m not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies...I’m at home with my wife, two daughters and a dog. Outside of family, I love grilling and barbequing on my Big Green Egg and working on projects around the house.

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