Stump Removal Techniques


There are several ways to remove a stump from your lawn. The method that you use is based on your available time, materials and effort. While tree removal companies offer stump extraction as a service, it is often considerably cheaper to do the work yourself.

Manual Digging and Cutting

  • Digging out a stump is a long and tedious process, but can be done with only a shovel and an ax. Dig around the entire stump cutting the large roots with the ax. Many of the small roots will be cut easily with the shovel. There is generally a large central root extending directly down from the bottom of the tree stump. Dig below the stump and cut the bottom root when it is narrow enough to cut relatively easily. The stump will easily be lifted out of the hole. If it is a large stump you may need to chop the stump into several pieces for removal.


  • Of all removal methods, burning a stump out requires the fewest tools, but can take several days to a week based on the size of the stump. Burn excess branches or charcoal around the stump to dry it out. A fresh stump will not burn on its own. You can aide the drying process by boring holes into the stump. Be certain that there is adequate airflow to the ignited stump by digging a trench around its base.

Pushing or Pulling

  • Using heavy equipment, such as a skid steer loader or other tractor, you can push a stump right out of the ground. Start by pushing the upper part of the stump, breaking the closer roots and tipping it over. Then place the edge of the bucket at the base of the stump under the main root ball and drive forward to extract the stump.

    To pull a stump out of the ground, dig around the stump and wrap chain, cable or straps around it below the upper roots. Pull the chains with a vehicle or winch until the stump breaks free.

Stump Grinder

  • Stump grinders come in various sizes for different sized stumps. Some are hand held like a jackhammer while some are much larger machines. While they are generally very effective, using one that is too small on a large stump will take a long time and strain the machine, possibly breaking it and injuring yourself. Choose a grinder based on the diameter of the stump you are removing. Many tree cutting companies will offer stump grinding as a service, but these machines can also be rented.

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