How to Kill A Tree Stump

Tree stumps can be an unsightly part of a garden or landscape, taking up valuable space which could be used for a flat surface, such as grass or a flowerbed. Even smaller tree stumps can be difficult to remove, due to roots which reach deep into the ground. 

It is possible to kill a tree stump yourself with just a few materials. The most effective way to remove a tree stump is to kill it, then remove it. Allow Tree Survey Experts to walk you through our step-by-step guide to killing a tree stump, with just a few materials.

How to kill a tree stump

Tree stump

Mix Epsom salt and water

Epsom Salt is an effective substance for killing tree stumps. The Salt contains sulphur and magnesium, of which large doses can deprive tree stumps of the moisture and minerals they need to survive.

100% Epsom Salt can be purchased online from a number of retailers. The Epsom salt should be mixed with water to be applied to a tree stump.

Epsom Salt and water is a natural stump removal method. However, it is possible to purchase ready-made tree stump removal chemical which can be applied to the stump directly, then just add water after.

Drill holes into the stump

Once Epsom Salt and water mixture has been made, several holes need to be drilled into the stump for the solution to be correctly applied.

Before drilling, you should cut off as much of the top of the stump as possible. This is because the chemicals added to decompose a tree stump are more effective on fresh wood.

The drill holes should be spread a few inches apart, spread evenly along the top perimeter surface of the stump. Room permitting, the holes should be roughly 1 inch wide, 12 inches deep and 3-4 inches away from the back edge.

More holes can be drilled from the rim of the stump at a 45-degree angle. These holes can connect to the other holes to speed up the rotting process.

Pour the chemicals into the drill holes

Once the holes have been drilled into the stump, then the mixture of Epsom salt and water should be slowly, poured into the holes. Be careful to make sure the mixture does not overflow, preventing the Epsom salt from escaping. 3 or 4 ounces of the liquid should be enough. 

Cover the Holes with wax

You can also seal the holes with a porous material such as wax to prevent the mixture from escaping.

Tree stump with drill holes

Cover the tree stump with a tarp

Once the mixture of Epsom salt and water has been applied to the drill holes in the tree stump, covering the tree stump with a tarp will help to decompose the tree stump. The tarp prevents the stump from coming into contact with any sunlight or water. This way the stump cannot perform photosynthesis, meaning it will eventually die.

Check the stump after 4-6 weeks

4-6 weeks later, check the progress of the stump to see how it has decomposed. A tree stump typically takes 4-6 weeks to die once appropriate chemicals and materials have been applied. The tree stump will become sponge after this time.

However, this will depend on the type of tree and the environment. Softwoods such as pine trees take less time to decompose than hardwoods like hickory.

If the tree stump looks spongey and decomposed enough, then you can break the rotten wood with an axe. However, if the stump is still sturdy, then you can simply reapply the Epsom salt and water solution or tree stump removal chemicals into the holes. If this is the case, cover the stump with a tarp then check again in three weeks.

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