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Removing Tree Roots After Tree Removal

Now and then it happens that people have to part with a tree from their garden. The reasons for this can be different.

The fact is that the tree is quickly sawed off, but the stump, which is stuck in the ground afterwards, quickly becomes a dangerous tripping hazard and for this reason must be removed from the ground.

If you leave the stump in the ground and wait for it to rot on its own, you are not doing anything wrong, but you have to be prepared for a longer waiting time. This is because, until the stump rots completely, a period of between 8 and 10 years may be necessary.

Often, garden owners look for help on the Internet to successfully remove the stump from the ground, and in this context encounter a wide variety of advice. It is not uncommon for self-proclaimed “experts” to advise:

  • Gasoline
  • Petroleum
  • Fuel paste

with which the stump should first be filled and then set on fire. However, these advices should be skillfully ignored and put aside. Because these “tips”:

  • Do not work.
  • Are sometimes dangerous.

If the log burns, a charcoal layer forms on it, which protects the stump. By burning the stump, you only shoot yourself in the foot, because the protective layer only unnecessarily prolongs the rotting process and delays it even further.

Tree Root Removal

Is it necessary to remove the tree root at all?


When the tree is cut down and the really exhausting work is due, many garden owners ask themselves whether it is even necessary to remove the tree root from the ground. Perhaps they have heard about the foresters in the forest, which leave the tree stumps to themselves and do not interfere further with nature. In the garden, however, other conditions apply, which argue for removing the tree root from the ground. If the tree was removed for space reasons, and it was not diseased, the owners are usually not interested in finding a new tree in the place. However, deciduous trees in particular do not necessarily and inevitably die when removed from the stump. It is quite possible that the tree will sprout anew. In addition, the roots of the tree also continue to grow. Among other things, these can continue to threaten utility lines and drainage pipes, as well as old masonry walls with mortar. Not to mention the paving stones, which the strong roots can lift without any problems. The tree roots continue to take up space. Although there is now no longer an obstacle with regard to the field of vision, effectively space continues to be taken up by the tree, or its stump. This is especially the case with shallow-rooted varieties. One tree species that is known for this is spruce. The root system of this tree species begins just below the surface of the soil. Thus, in order to establish a new bed or even lawn at the site, it is necessary to wait until the roots are completely decayed. And this, as already mentioned, takes a lot of time.

The observance of safety measures

Finally, whoever decides to remove the tree stump, for these purposes must always keep in mind and remember the applicable safety measures. In this regard, first of all, it is completely irrelevant whether for the removal:

  • a spade
  • a mini-excavator
  • is used. The site must be prepared for the removal of the stump, which includes the fact that care is taken to comply with safety measures.

Among the preparatory work may be necessary:

  • move plants
  • cover the working surface.
  • In order to ensure sufficient safety during the work, it is also necessary to comply with other safety measures:
  1. The work may only fulfill with sufficient protective clothing. This consists of safety google, safety work gloves or assembly gloves, and safety shoes.
  2. To work more safely and effectively, the removal should not be done alone, but only with the help of additional hands.
  3. A splitting axe and also a saw should always be ready to fall back on in case of emergency.
  4. Firecrackers and explosives have absolutely no place in the removal of a tree stump. Anyone who resorts to these means takes an extremely risky and dangerous risk with regard to their own health and the health of others present. Not to mention the condition of the garden, which can suffer from such action.
  5. If heavy equipment is used, such as a gas-powered chainsaw or root cutters, it is important to observe the rest periods that are regulated by law. Especially over the weekend or during lunchtime, these should not be disregarded under any circumstances.

Tip: If you want to create a useful or ornamental bed directly in the place where you remove the tree roots, compost should be added directly to the excavated earth.

Ways To Remove Tree Stumps

Ways To Remove Tree Stumps On Your Own

Save strength when digging the tree stump

Many people imagine digging out the tree stump to be very strenuous. With this assumption, in principle, you are not wrong, but there are certainly ways to dig out the tree stump, saving as much effort as possible. Among the tree species are spruce, arborvitae, and cypress, all of which are characterized by the fact that they have a weak and shallow root system. Often the diameter of the trunk does not exceed 12″, which means that the root can be dug out easily and simply by hand. Whether these works are of course also a question of physical fitness, but the right technology also plays a major role in this context. This consists of leaving a piece of the tree that is at least 60″ long already when it is cut down. The second step is to dig out the roots all around with a sharp spade. If you encounter thin roots, you will cut them directly with the spade. If this is not possible, an axe will be used later for this purpose. In this context, it is important to get out of each root a piece that is about spart width. This has the advantage that the digging is not hindered and can continue without restrictions.

Using a Stump Grinder to Remove Tree Roots

There is also the possibility of removing the tree root with the rootstock cutter. This brings the advantage that you can remove the stump within a short time. This not only saves you power, effort and time, but also the disposal of large pieces of roots or stumps. Due to the fact that the device does not leave behind any pieces, but only fine wood chips, you have an easy game with regard to disposal. However, in order to be able to remove the tree stump with such a device, some important rules should be followed. These are:

First step:

  • The tree root must first be exposed with a spade, as is required for manual excavation.
  • It is important to go as deep as possible. This is because the deeper the trench, the more of the root can be excavated later with the equipment.
  • A shovel may be able to assist if the stump is particularly large.

Second step:

Now it is time to remove any stones that are directly on the stump or in the immediate vicinity. If these get into the machine while it is removing the stump, they can damage the cutter blade and render the machine useless.

Third step:

  • The third step is to gradually remove the tree root.
  • How much time this process takes always depends greatly on the size of the tree stump.

Fourth step:

  • When the tree stump is completely removed and is now no longer a tripping hazard, however, you have a new obstacle. This is the trench that has been created. To prevent it from becoming a source of danger, it should be filled in.
  • The wood chips must be disposed of properly.

Tip: To be able to remove the root of the felled tree, you do not have to buy a suitable device. You can rent root cutters in many hardware stores for several hours and simply return them after use. The advantage is also that you can receive extensive instruction in the use and application of the device from the specialist staff at the DIY store.

Physically Remove Tree Roots on Your Own

Another way to remove the tree stump from the bottom of the garden is the rope hoist. With this, too, some preliminary work with a spade and ax is necessary. Because even in this case, the tree root must first be dug out as far as possible with these two tools. If possible, the stump should already be loosened somewhat in this connection.

  • Also, in this case, thicker and more robust roots should be cut directly with the axe in the process.
  • Once the trench is ready, the pulley must be attached to the tree stump. For this purpose, simply attach a tension belt near the tree stump. The object or the tree must be really firm and sturdy in the process. Otherwise, it will not be able to withstand the resulting resistance.
  • The second tensioning strap is then attached directly to the tree root. Here, too, care must be taken to ensure that it is firmly and securely attached to it and cannot slip off.
  • Now the pulley is extended. How this works is explained in detail in the instructions that come with the device.
  • The tensioning straps are now pulled so far that you can connect them to the cable puller and thus apply them. In this context, the tension belts are inserted into the snap hooks, which are located in the cable pull. Then they are secured and you can start.
  • The actual digging starts west now, as the lever continuously increases the tension until the tree root loosens more and more and can finally be lifted out of the ground. In the case of particularly robust and stubborn roots, you can also help out simply and easily with an axe and cut through the roots with it.

The goal is to build up as much tension as possible. The higher the tension, the faster the tree root will come out of the ground.

Remove Roots Using a Chemical Compound

There is also the possibility to approach the whole thing with chemistry. To be exact, the applied chemistry is the potassium nitrate. This appears as granules and is sprinkled as this into the wood. As a decomposition accelerator, this chemical element is said to be able to speed up the tree stump as it rots. Instead of having to wait between 8 to 10 years, the waiting time, in this case, is reduced to between 3 and 12 months – the exact amount of time always depends on the species and size of the tree. Thus, you benefit from great time savings and do not have to wait for nature to take its course.

However, before using such products should always keep in mind that they do not have a particularly positive impact on either people or the environment. Especially if children and animals live in the household, an alternative should be considered. If this is out of the question, it should at least be ensured that children and animals stay away from the tree stump. Even inhalation of the chemical substance can cause damage to health.

The granules are applied in the following way:

  1. Several holes are drilled into the tree stump.
  2. The powder is then filled into the holes and distributed in them.
  3. Now it is time to wait and observe the tree stump. – If the wood starts to become soft, it can simply be chopped up and disposed of.
  4. If there is a need, the process can also be repeated.

The removal with fertilizer or compost

As already mentioned, in a forest, for example, it is common to simply leave the stump of felled trees and let nature take its course. In this case, the bacteria and fungi take care of rotting the tree trunk. However, since this process can take up to 10 years, you can also speed up the decomposition process in your garden by using certain means. One of these means is fertilizer.

Similar to what is required for the chemical substance, the method with fertilizer also requires you to drill holes in the tree stump, and then you can fill it with the appropriate substances.

For these purposes, different substances are suitable:

Compost The microorganisms, which are contained in the compost, colonize the wood.
Calcium cyanamide The calcium cyanamide should find its application after the compost. This is because it contains the important nutrients that the microorganisms need to perform their function effectively.
Yeast By producing heat, yeast further accelerates decomposition.

Remove Roots With Rock Salt

If you find that the stump is still alive and able to produce new shoots, you can proceed with salt. Because with this you can kill the new shoots without them growing and eventually you have a new tree in the garden. But, even if the shoots were killed by the salt, this does not change the fact that the rotting itself is very slow and the tree stump hardly disappears by itself.

  • Therefore, a combination of killing by the salt and accelerating the rotting by other substances is recommended.
  • The tree stump is interspersed with Epsom salt or rock salt. When buying the salt, make sure that it does not have any additional ingredients. These could harm the environment.
  • To be able to intersperse the tree stump with the salt, small holes must be drilled in it. This is the only way for the salt to reach deep inside the tree trunk. The best depth of the holes is between 8″ and 12″. As for the distance between the individual holes, it should be about 1″. However, there is no clear rule regarding the correct depth. The deeper you can drill the holes, the deeper the salt can work at the root of the tree stump.
  • It does not necessarily have to be a hole drilled with a drill. If you do not have a drill, you do not have to buy one specially for this purpose. It is quite enough to hit the tree trunk with an axe or to saw the crevices with a chainsaw.

This procedure should also be applied to the tree stumps, which have branched roots on the surface. Holes must be drilled and then filled with salt.

For filling the holes with the salt, it is important that they are not completely stuffed with the salt. There must, as the saying goes, still be air at the top. Only in this way the holes can be closed again with some wax. A simple candle is sufficient for this purpose, the wax of which is dripped over the holes filled with salt.

To complete the process, the tree stump should not be left open, but covered with an opaque black tarp. This fact also helps to speed up the process of decomposition.

Removal with fire – burning down the tree stump

A tip that can be read over and over again in the forums on the Internet is that of simply setting fire to the tree trunk and thus letting it burn down. This may sound quite simple and plausible in theory, but in practice, it is anything but advisable. Because as simple as it sounds at first glance, the burnout of the tree stump is then but not. Because in this case:

  • smoke is produced.
  • the combustible material, with which the tree is set on fire, is not completely harmless.

Laymen often make a big mistake and resort to wrong and dangerous fire accelerants, such as kerosene. Although this accelerant has the advantage of burning quickly and effectively, at the same time it not only sets the tree stump on fire but also contaminates the entire ground, which is located in the immediate vicinity of the tree stump.

Max Welder

Max Welder

Hi! I'm Max Welder ( I always wanted to work with my own hands, repair something, do things. Now I combine my knowledge with computers and my own knowledge in the field of mechanics in order to understand which tools I like the most. I hope to convey some knowledge and experience.

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