Ways to Get Rid of Stumps & Roots

Tree stumps can be eyesores and tripping hazards and interfere with your landscaping; the roots allow the stump to remain intact. You can remove the tree stumps and roots that were left behind after a tree was cut down in a variety of ways. Some stumps can be dug out, while others require chemical aids or the use of special machinery. The best method to remove your stumps depends on the amount and size.

Hitting a tree stump with your mower can damage the blades.

Things You'll Need

  • Axe

  • Shovel

  • Grub hoe with axe blade

  • Drill

  • Stump killer chemical

  • Matches

  • Kerosene or fuel oil

  • Chicken wire

Step 1

Dig out smaller or more shallow stumps by hand. Expose all of the roots of the stump and cut through each root; use the axe for thicker roots. Use a grub hoe with an axe blade to pull all of the roots out of the ground.

Step 2

Cut down larger stumps as much as possible with your axe. Drill a series of holes -- 1 inch wide and 12 inches deep -- around the perimeter of the top of the stump. Drill more holes around the stump, about three inches from the rim, at a 45-degree angle; line the angled holes with the holes on the top of the stump to connect.

Step 3

Get a tree stump killer chemical from a local hardware or garden store. Look for products containing powdered potassium nitrate. Follow the directions on the product carefully when pouring over the stump. Wait for the stump to become soft and spongy; the process typically takes four to six weeks. Break the stump down with an axe. Remove all dead wood and roots.

Step 4

Pour kerosene or fuel oil into the stump holes after using a chemical softener to avoid using an axe; allow a few weeks for the liquid to be absorbed by the wood before dropping a match into a hole to slowly burn the stump. Clear all leaves from the area surrounding the stump. Enclose the burning stump with chicken wire or another enclosure to keep family members and pets away. Watch the stump closely as it smolders; the process can take days to finish.

Step 5

Rent a stump grinder from your local garden or hardware store if you have a lot of stumps and roots. A stump grinder is a large, bladed machine designed to grind down the stump and roots into small pieces. Not all machines operate the same; ask the store staff for instructions on how to operate the machine. The rental cost varies by area and machine size, but typically starts around $100 per day.


Check local laws and zoning regulations before burning anything in your yard. Hire a professional if you experience difficulty removing any stumps.


Do not use gasoline to burn the stump.