Tree Stump Removal Instructions


Look at these photos that one of my subscribers sent me. This works!

If you have a really large tree stump in your yard, you really only have a couple of options. Hire somebody to come in and grind it, or rent a grinder and do it yourself.

If the stump is really large, you probably don't want to tackle grinding it with a rented grinder, they just aren't big enough for really large stumps.

But for smaller tree and shrub stumps the following tree stump removal instructions should come in handy. Removing tree and shrub stumps is not as hard as most people make it.

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One of the most common methods of do it yourself tree and shrub stump removal is to hook the stump to a pick up truck and go like crazy.

Bad idea!

For one, that technique is really hard on a vehicle. You can twist the frame, rip off brake lines, or possibly remove the rear axle. Not only that, it tears up the lawn something terrible, and then you have more work to do.

I suppose with a newer vehicle you might even manage to release the air bags. Wow! That sure would hurt. Not to mention the $5,000. or so it takes to restore an air bag system.

So, with all that said, here are my tree stump removal instructions that work really well on stumps that can be removed by hand.

You'll need a few tools:

Spud Bar

Following my tree stump removal instructions, these are the two most important tools you'll need. A good nursery digging spade. You must spend at least $80.00 on a digging spade, or you just have a toy.

A good heavy spade is essential for all phases of home landscaping, so do yourself a favor and spend $80.00 on a tool that will do most of the work for you. Cheap spades work, (kinda) but you do all the work and the spade just goes along for the ride. A good spade will make your job easier. A lot easier!

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The tool I am holding in my hand is a "Landscape Bar", or an "All Purpose Utility Bar". It has a flat blade on one end, and round end for tamping on the other. Made of solid steel, this puppy is heavy! But it's the weight of the tool that gets the job done. My guys nicknamed this tool "Spud Bar" and the name stuck.

Sharpening Spud Bar

Notice the flat blade on the end of the landscape bar. We are going to use this to cut tree roots, so you don't want it blunt and dull. You don't want it razor sharp, but putting a narrow edge on it will make your job easier.

Notice the boot on my foot? That's a steel toe boot, and really a must for this kind of work. And tools have a tendency to go any direction they want sometimes.

Don't even think about wearing your sneakers. I care too much about your toes to let you do that!

Tree Stump Removal

O.K.! Now for step by step tree stump removal instructions.

Step 1

Get the top of the plant that you are removing to a manageable size. In this example I am removing a woody Viburnum, and the branches are not rigid enough to give me any leverage, so I will cut them down fairly close to the ground.

If this were a small tree, or an evergreen with one, or several upright branches that were good and rigid, I would consider cutting them off at about 4 feet high and removing all the small branches below that.

The reason for leaving them taller when possible, you can get a lot of leverage with those four foot upright branches. As we begin to get the stump loose, that leverage comes in handy and the stump comes out sooner. But in this case that's not an option, so off they come so I can get in nice and close to work on this stump.

Step 2

As you start the stump removal process, using your spade, you are going to start digging a little trench around the stump. Notice how I have the spade turned backwards?

It's not a big deal, but with the spade backwards you can sometimes pry against the stump to get a little leverage. But mainly, you want to dig away from the stump, throwing the soil outwards to expose as many roots as possible.

Tree Stump Removal

Are there any secrets in these trees stump removal instructions? Yes, the further away from the stump you dig, the easier it is, and the more successful you will be. That may seem obvious to you, but after 20 years of teaching people how to remove stumps by hand, I know that for some reason most people try and dig too close.

Tree Stump Removal

Step 3

After digging around the stump as much as you can with a spade, you start using the landscape bar to cut some of the roots around the perimeter of the stump.

The secret to using the bar is to just keep going around the stump, stick the bar into the soil, move it back and forth slightly to open the trench a little, and to make pulling the bar back out easier. Just keep doing this all around the stump.

The technique is to lift the bar out of the ground and then stab it back in, the weight of the bar creates enough momentum to cut any small to medium size roots that are in the way. Keep the bar at such an angle that eventually you will be able to get to the center of the stump from underneath with the tip of the landscape bar.

Tree Stump Removal

At first it won't seem like you're getting anywhere, but eventually you will see the stump start to move. Once it starts moving, it's as good as out. Just keep stabbing that bar into the ground.

Tree Stump Removal

Before you know it you will have cut all the roots around and under the stump and will be able to easily pull it from the ground.

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And there you have my Tree Stump Removal Instructions. This technique is quite simple, but without the right tools it can be next to impossible.

Questions? I do my best to answer all questions on my blog...