How to remove a tree stump

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How to remove a tree stump

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Project 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.
Continue to step-by-step instructions

Step by Step Instructions

1 Dig around the base of the tree trunk
2 Cut the upper root system
3 Cut the lower roots and remove the tree stump
  • Step 1. Dig 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. 
  • Step 2. Cut 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.
  • Step 3. Cut 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.

Tools and Materials

Tools

  • Axe
  • Crow bar
  • Mattock
  • Pruning saw
  • Rake
  • Shovel
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