How to Dig Out a Tree Stump – 5 Best Methods

Are you tired of looking at that unsightly tree stump in your garden? Or perhaps you need to remove it to make room for a new garden bed or landscaping project. Whatever the reason, getting rid of a tree stump can be a challenging task.

However, with the right tools and techniques, it is possible to successfully dig out a tree stump and reclaim a part of your garden. In this post, we’ll cover the top five methods on ‘How to Dig Out a Tree Stump’, including tree stump grinding, chemical decomposition, manual digging, tree-pulling tools, and burning. Read on to learn more about each option and find out which method is best for your needs and budget.

If you have a ‘large tree stump’ that you need to remove, a tree stump grinder may be the most efficient option. These machines have a rotating blade that grinds the stump into small wood chips, making it easy to dig out and dispose of or place in your compost bin and even work into clay soils as an amendment if you have soil problems.

 The main downside to this method is that it can be expensive to rent or buy a tree stump grinder, and it can also be quite loud and disruptive.

You will need to use common sense to ensure the safety of both you and your family. This is especially true if you plan to use the machine around windows or cars. In addition, wear protective clothing and goggles

How to Dig Out a Tree Stump- Tree Stump Grinding

How to Dig Out a Tree Stump: Use a ‘Tree Stump Grinder’ For Larger Stumps

Decompose The Stump With Chemicals

Another option for removing a tree stump is to use chemicals to speed up the decomposition process. There are several products on the market that contain ingredients like potassium nitrate and sulfur, which help to break down the wood fibres in the stump. A popular chemical method for removing tree stumps is using Epsom salts.

It can be a very effective and inexpensive solution, it can also be used to kill nuisance plants. However, the tree stump removal process is a bit slow, and it may not be suitable for those who want immediate removal.

To use the chemical method, you’ll need to drill holes into the stump and then apply the chemicals according to the manufacturer’s instructions then cover the stump with a layer of mulch. This can take several weeks or even months to work, but it’s a relatively low-effort option compared to some of the other methods on this list.

How to Dig Out a Tree Stump - Using Chemicals

How To Dig Out A Tree Stump: You Will Need To ‘Drill Holes’ In The Stump Then Apply Chemicals

Remove the Stump Manually

If you’re up for some hard work and don’t mind getting your hands dirty, you can manually dig out a tree stump using a pick and shovel. This method can be time-consuming, but it’s also the most budget-friendly option for digging out a tree stump.

To get started, you’ll need to loosen the soil around the base of the stump and then use the pick to dig out as much of the root system as possible. You will then need to use the shovel to remove any remaining dirt or debris.

manually removing a tree stump

How To Dig Out A Tree Stump: Manually Removing Tree Stumps Can Be Hard Work.

Use A Tree Pulling Tool

If the tree stump you’re trying to remove is relatively small and not too deeply rooted, you may be able to use a tree-pulling tool to yank it out of the ground. These tools typically consist of a long lever with a hook or claw on the end, which you can use to leverage the stump out of the ground. This method can be quite effective, but it may take some trial and error to find the right amount of force to use.

Burn The Stump

Finally, if you don’t mind a little fire and smoke, you can try burning the tree stump to remove it. This method works best if the stump is small and not too deeply rooted.

To get started, you’ll need to clear away any debris or branches that may be surrounding the stump. Then, use a propane torch or another heat source to slowly burn away the wood fibres. This process can take several hours or even days, depending on the size of the stump, but it can be a satisfying way to get rid of it once and for all.

How To Dig Out a Tree Stump: Using a Stump Grider


How Long Does It Take Epsom Salt to Dissolve a Tree Stump?

Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) can be used as a chemical stump removal method to accelerate the decomposition of wood. It may take several weeks to several months for the Epsom salt to fully dissolve a tree stump, depending on factors such as the size of the stump, the amount of Epsom salt used, and environmental conditions.  

What is The Easiest Way to Remove Tree Stumps?

The easiest (not the quickest) way both physically and the most cost-effective method of tree stump removal is to use chemical products. These products can be purchased at DIY stores or online and are applied to the ‘stump’ according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

The chemicals will accelerate the decomposition of the wood, it will take several weeks or months for the ‘stump’ to fully decompose. This method is relatively low in effort and allows you to let the chemicals do the work.

Can I Remove a Stump Myself?

Yes, it is possible to remove a tree stump yourself, although this method will require a lot of physical labour and may be challenging if the roots of the tree are deep or extensive.

1. Use a shovel or other digging tool to carefully dig around the stump and loosen the roots.
2. Expose as much of the root system as possible by digging around the stump.
3. Cut through any remaining roots with a saw or other cutting tool.
4. Lift the stump out of the ground, using a lever or other tool if necessary.

Is it Better to dig up a Stump or Grind it?

Is it better to dig up a stump or to grind it? One should consider these factors when deciding between grinding and hand-digging a tree stump.

1. Time and effort: Grinding is quicker and requires much less physical labour than hand digging.
2. Cost: Renting a stump grinder can be expensive, while hand digging may be more cost-effective.
3. Tools and equipment: Grinding requires a stump grinder, which may not be available.
4. Results: Grinding leaves wood chips that need to be removed, while hand digging may result in a neater appearance.


No matter which method you choose, it’s important to follow all safety precautions and to get permission from any relevant authorities before attempting to remove a tree stump. Also, ensure you clear and dig around the ‘stump and roots’ of all debris and dirt first, before attempting any removal.

And don’t forget to dispose of the stump responsibly once it’s been removed, whether that means taking it to a landfill or recycling it for mulch or wood chips.

We hope you have found How to Dig Out a Tree Stump helpful and look out for more tips for the garden to kitchen. Visit our FAQ page for more information on a whole host of garden information and jargon which you may find interesting.