How to Remove a Tree Stump

See our simple step-by-step instructions on how to remove a stump yourself, and without spending a bunch of money.

Keep in mind: Price and stock could change after publish date, and we may make money from these affiliate links.
Chainsaw removing stump

Removing Stump with Chainsaw

Learn how to remove a stump without a grinder. Step One: Get the stump as low as you can.

Learn how to remove a stump without a grinder. Step One: Get the stump as low as you can.

Trees come down, be it from age, disease or natural disasters. And left behind are the stumps, which can be expensive to remove.

Stump grinder rental can cost more than $150 per day and professional stump removal services can cost anywhere from about $150 to $1,000, depending on factors such as tree size.

While DIY stump removal solutions that don't involve a stump grinder may not be the fastest approach to getting rid of stumps, they're definitely less expensive.

Here's a proven way to remove a pesky stump when money actually is an object. Bear in mind, this involves burning, so check your local laws regarding open fires.

How to Remove a Stump

1. Lower the Stump

Cut the stump as low to the ground as possible before the process truly begins.

2. Soften the Stump

A commercial stump remover or plain ole saltpeter (aka potassium nitrate) will soften the wood and make it amenable to a slow and thorough burn.

Using a drill with a 1-inch bit, 8 to 12 inches long, drill deep holes in the top of the stump spaced 3 to 4 inches apart in all directions.

Fill each hole with stump remover/saltpeter, and top each hole off with boiling water to dissolve the saltpeter.

3. Give It Time

Walk away and forget all about that stump for a month or so to allow the remover to do its thing.

4. Add Kerosene

Now that the stump remover has been absorbed by the wood, it's time to do the same thing with an accelerant. Depending on the size of your stump, a gallon or two of kerosene or lamp oil will do the trick. Gasoline is not recommended.

Let this soak into the wood for a couple of weeks, then repeat the process. The accelerant will distribute throughout the stump, including the roots, allowing for a thorough and complete burn.

5. Burn the Stump

Check with your local fire department regarding open fires and any restrictions due to drought conditions. Once you have the go-ahead, it's time to burn.

Rake out the area around the stump to remove any flammable debris and, using bricks or rocks, build a fire ring around your stump. Place kindling and logs on top of your prepared stump, enough to build a standard campfire. Keep a hose handy as a safety precaution.

Start your fire as you would any other. The idea here is to get things hot, but don’t expect the stump to disappear in a burst of flame.

6. Tend to the Embers

As the fire fades into glowing embers and the stump is still there, don’t be disappointed. This is going to take some time.

Depending on the size of your stump, those embers may keep glowing for several days or even a week. Be sure to check progress often and stir the embers up now and again, if necessary. If they should go out, start a new fire hot enough to return to a hot ember state until the stump has burned out completely.

7. Rake Out the Ashes

Fill the hole with your preferred soil. If the stump was situated in a grassy area, it's time to seed.

Next Up

How to Plant and Grow a Catalpa Tree

Learn all about unique catalpa trees, plus get expert tips and information for choosing, planting, growing and caring for catalpas in your home landscape.

Cottonwood Tree Facts

Learn about growing cottonwood trees, known for their ample shade and cotton-like seeds.

How to Choose, Plant and Grow Junipers

Learn all about the various types of junipers available for landscaping, plus how to plant, prune and troubleshoot, and what varieties to choose for your home.

Choosing the Right Crape Myrtle for Your Landscape

Follow these tips to help you choose the right crape myrtle varieties for your yard and learn how to care for them.

How to Remove Wallpaper

Wallpaper removal is relatively simple with some elbow grease and a few household items.

How to Kill Poison Ivy in Your Yard

Discover five strategies for getting rid of poison ivy.

How to Plant and Grow a Persimmon Tree

Experts share why persimmon trees are good to grow and offer tips on persimmon types and how to care for them.

How to Grow a Peach Tree

Learn how to grow a peach tree from a seed or young tree, and fill your shelves and freezer with delicious peach jams, pies and cobblers.

How to Remove a Dishwasher

Removing your dishwasher doesn't need to be left to the pros. Follow our steps to get the dishwasher out yourself in no time.

Grow an Olive Tree

Grow an olive tree indoors and let it take summer vacations outdoors. If your climate is warm, you can even plant it in your garden.

Go Shopping

Get product recommendations from HGTV editors, plus can’t-miss sales and deals.

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.