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An axe being used to cut through the uncovered roots of a tree stump

Overview

When you need to remove a tree stump, the main thing is cutting away the roots. A general rule of thumb is that the roots spread as far under the ground as the branches spread above the ground. We'll show you which roots to cut and how to find them. We also teach you what tools to use and give you a few extra tips to help make the job a bit easier.

Steps

1Dig around the base of the tree trunk

Use a mattock to loosen the soil, working in a circle around the base of the stump. Dig further out from the base of the stump itself – otherwise, you'll be digging nothing but roots. Once the soil is loose, dig it out with your shovel to expose the root system. 
Person digging around a tree stump.

2Cut the upper root system

Once the upper layer of roots has been uncovered, use a pruning saw to cut through the medium-sized roots. Then cut through the larger roots with your axe. To make the cutting easier, remove the soil from around the bigger roots before you start chopping.
Axe being swung at a tree root.

3Cut the lower roots and remove the tree stump

With the top root system cleared away, dig in underneath the stump. You can start to use the stump as a lever, pull it away from the soil to reveal the lower roots. Once you can see the lower roots, use your pruning saw and axe to cut them. Then simply pull your stump out of the ground and back fill the hole with soil.
Person removing a tree stump.

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Health & Safety

Asbestos, lead-based paints and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber are health hazards you need to look out for when renovating older homes. These substances can easily be disturbed when renovating and exposure to them can cause a range of life-threatening diseases and conditions including cancer. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page.

When following our advice in our D.I.Y. videos, make sure you use all equipment, including PPE, safely by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Check that the equipment is suitable for the task and that PPE fits properly. If you are unsure, hire an expert to do the job or talk to a Bunnings Team Member.