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remove a tree stump

What is the Best way to Remove a Tree Stump?

Tree stumps left behind after a tree has been removed or has naturally fallen really can pose a problem. You may be keen to get rid of the stump because you want to landscape your garden and it’s getting in the way. The stump may look unsightly right there in the middle of your lawn, or it could be a safety hazard. What’s more, it really is highly advisable to remove a tree stump to prevent fungal root rots such as honey fungus, and also to prevent suckering, where new shoots grow from the trunk and roots.

Whatever your reasoning behind wanting rid of a tree stump, you’re going to need some good, solid advice on removing it. Precisely what our expert tree surgeons have put together in this guide to the best ways to remove a tree stump.

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When is the best time to remove a tree stump?

You can remove a tree stump any time, but the most cost effective and easiest way is to ask the tree surgeon who is removing the tree to do it there and then.

If you are using chemical-based stump killers then you will need to apply these to freshly cut wood, so it is best to do this immediately after felling. If you don’t, then it will be necessary to recut the stump before applying the stump killer.

How to remove a tree stump?

There are various methods of tree stump removal you can use. Let’s take a look at them.

Physical stump removal

This involves literally pulling out or grinding out the stump. It is considered the best solution when you need to remove a tree stump.

Smaller stumps can be pulled out with a winch. These can be hired, but should not be used by anyone who has not been trained in their safe use. A winch won’t really be suitable for stumps cut to ground level. If however yours has been left around a metre in height then it should work.

A mechanical excavator can also be used, again providing there is sufficient stump height left to work with. Once again, these machines should only be used by trained operators for safety reasons.

Stump grinding is another popular physical method of tree stump removal. Stump grinders mechanically grind out the main root plate, leaving only sawdust. You can choose the depth to which you would like the stump ground. If you are intending to lay turf, then around 20-25cm should be enough. If however you are landscaping or planting then you’ll need at least 30cm.

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The sawdust can be used to fill the hole left behind, or you could make mulch out of it. If you prefer, the tree surgeon can take it away for you. Beware of using any diseased wood though; this should be very carefully removed. If you are planting then it is good practice to fill the hole with topsoil and try not to mix any sawdust with it as it could cause issues with nutrients not being able to reach the plants.

Stump grinders are specialist machines which are dangerous to use unless you are adequately trained, so be sure to hire a qualified tree surgeon to carry out this type of stump removal.

Remember that physical methods of tree stump removal will need to involve taking out the roots of the tree, otherwise there is a chance that it will grow back.

Chemical stump removal

You can also remove a tree stump using a chemical process.

Chemical stump killers usually contain glyphosate and there are various brands on the market.

Always proceed with caution and read the instructions very carefully. The method will vary from brand to brand, so be sure to follow it to the letter.

Some stump killers need to be used to treat the whole cut surface of the stump. You may need to drill holes around the living edge of the stump to pour the granules into, or it may be necessary to use an axe or a chisel to cut wedges around the edge of the bark which you then fill with the granules or liquid.

Timing is very important. It is recommended that chemical stump killers are used between autumn and winter. Treating stumps during spring or summer will coincide with rising sap which could reduce the effectiveness of the treatment.

It is advisable when possible to apply chemical stump killer to fresh stumps that still have living tissue. This tissue will assist with the uptake of the chemical. Stumps that have been cut in the past few weeks may have live tissue underneath which can be exposed by slicing off the top of the stump.

Once you’ve finished your chemical stump killer application having followed the instructions, cover the stump with a plastic sheet and secure in place to prevent the chemical being washed off by the rain. Keep an eye on it; it should begin to rot within a few weeks. Once it is soft enough you should be able to remove it easily by chopping with an axe or even a shovel.

Always follow any safety advice provided by the manufacturer. It is highly advisable to wear protective clothing such as gloves, Wellington boots and safety glasses. Do not let animals or children near the stump during or after the treatment.

Stump removal methods to avoid

It is not advisable to burn down stumps. Aside from the fact that they are usually too wet, this method can prove very dangerous and in many areas will not be permitted in any case.

If you are looking for ways to speed up the rotting of the stump, be aware that nitrate fertilisers will not do the job, neither will they improve burning qualities.

Need professional help with tree stump removal in Essex?

TH Trees Ltd offers a range of expert, qualified tree stump removal services including stump grinding. If you need to remove a tree stump anywhere in Essex, give us a call on 01268 642814 and we’ll arrange to assess it and work out the best method of removal. We offer a trusted, Trading Standards approved service, full insurance and a range of tree surgeon qualifications for your complete peace of mind.

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