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How to Kill Tree Stumps

Stump Grinding

The best way to kill a tree stump is to have it ground out by us with a stump grinding machine. With the stump ground down, the tree will not re-grow.

The stump grinding has minimal impact on the surrounding area, so it can even be done close to walls or fences. The cutting head of the stump grinder turns the stump into wood chip, which is simply left onsite to turn into soil, put on borders or disposed of in your brown bin.

Depending on which stump grinder is used, we grind down to a depth of between 15 and 45cm below the surrounding ground level.

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Stump Grinder


The cheapest but slowest way to kill a stump is to just cover it over with a tied down tarp which doesn't let in any light or water. The starves the stump of one of it's most important needs - sunlight. This will stop photosynthesis, and eventually the stump will die. You of course left with the dead stump, which will take many years to rot away.


Stumps can be killed with doses of Epsom or Rock Salt. It can take many months for the stump to die, and of course you will still have it in your garden for many years to come. Normal table salt should not be used for killing stumps. Holes need to be drilled into the stump about 3cm deep. Pack the salt into the holes and seal with a none porous material like wax. Now cover the stump with a waterproof and opaque membrane and leave for several months.


Many garden centres sell stump killing liquids containing glyphosate eg. Roundup or triclopyr eg.SBK (follow instructions and safety guidelines), these should eventually kill the stump, but won't get rid of it. Most often you would drill a trench into the stump and around the outer (cambium) area and fill it with the stump killer (application techniques are product specific).

These stump killers should not be used in Spring and the early Summer, as the sap is rising at this time of year; Autumn and Winter are the best time for application. These chemicals only work on live wood, so they should only be applied directly after felling or when the stump has been freshly cut by a chainsaw.

Be aware of the danger to children, pets and wildlife. Nailing a piece of wood over the top of the stump and covering with a plastic sheet should help prevent poisoning. The stump will still take decades to rot, and then you'll still have to smash away the remains. Care needs to be taken not to kill the roots of surrounding plants. Always wear protective clothing. On principal we will never use chemical solutions to killing tree stumps.


A way to accelerate decomposition is to drill into the stump and add a high nitrogen fertiliser, and cover the stump with a plastic lining. This will still take many years to decompose.


Stumps often re-sprout with fresh growth. Without dealing with the stump the tree will simply regrow. The stumps after felling still have carbohydrates in the roots; this can be used for new growth, budding and fresh leaves. Once the leaves start photosynthesis the stump is re-energised and continues to grow.

Continual pruning of shoots from the stump should kill a tree over time; though this is a hit and miss approach, which again will leave an unsightly dead stump for years to come.