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Stump Removal 101

Removing a stump can be hard, I guess that's why we have the business we do. In this section, we are going to talk about common techniques to remove stumps. Often as we visit with our customers we see that they have tried various methods previously to try to remove the stump themselves. I can understand that; I am a "Do it yourself" kind of guy too. Typically we see these methods employed:

1 - Burn the Stump Out This method always seems to be the most popular. It makes sense, doesn't it? A stump is wood. If you just soak it in gas or oil it will burn itself into ashes, right? In this case, when we show up we usually find a stump that is charred on top. When we grind into the stump you can see that the first inch is indeed burned but the rest is in perfect condition, hard as a rock. 

Some reasons I feel that this method isn't as easy as it seems is that for a stump to burn it needs to be dry. Wood will typically dry very slowly in nature. It usually will take several years for a stump to dry out completely to a point where it would burn. Secondly, Stumps are hard to burn because of the time it takes to burn. If you watch a few videos on youtube of stump burning it usually takes several days to burn down into the ground.

2 - Dig the Stump Out  I always admire the people who try to dig out the stump. It incredible some of the depths people reach trying to remove it. This method is usually the one that takes the most time and effort. Stumps have root networks like spider webs, they are designed to hold up trees that weigh thousands of pounds in wind storms. I recommend using a hose to blast out the dirt from around the roots and then use a chain saw to cut each root. It's a lot of work and messy, but it can be done.

3 - Pull the Stump Out This method is pretty straight forward, hook up a truck to a stump and gun it. This can work for small stumps. Remember stumps are designed to hold up trees that blow in the wind under great stress for years. Cutting the roots will help so that it can be pulled out. Remember that digging the stump is hard work. I've seen many stumps that people have spent days digging out only to give up halfway through.

4 - Epsom Salt/ Stump Killer  There are some great videos on youtube of using Epsom Salts/Stump Killers to remove a stump. Essentially the job of stump killer is to delaminate the fibers of a stump. Wood on a microscopic level looks loke straws glued together. What stump killer does is dissolve that "glue" between the fibers so that the stump falls apart. These work, but require time. Cover the stump with stump killer and reapply over several weeks. On average it will take about 6 months the get the stump where you can break it up.

5 - Chain Saw Cut it Out  Basically this involves using a chainsaw to cut chunks of stump out or cut the roots out from underneath the stump. Most chainsaws can get a stump to ground level but after that, it can get difficult. I mean there is a reason why they invested Stump Grinders. Two factors limit the use of chainsaws, first is the size. If the stump is large the blade on the saw won't be able to get all the way under the stump. Second is that running a chainsaw in the dirt will tear up the machine. You'll find that the machine will lose its speed quickly as it gets dull and gummed up from the dirt.

6 - Let it Rot  To be honest this is the best method; it's letting mother nature do its thing. Stumps will rot depending on two factors, Time and Moisture. If the stump is constantly wet and you give it a few years it will rot to the point where you can "pop" it out of the ground. Since Utah is a dry state this can take more time, but eventually, the stump will rot away.

7 - Use a Stump Grinder  My Personal favorite and the best option if you don't have lots of time on your hands. You have two options with a stump grinder. Rent one yourself or give us a call. I'll walk you through both scenarios. Renting a stump grinder isn't too complicated. They usually run about $50+ per hour with a two-hour minimum plus damage waivers and insurance. Please see our section on "How to Grind a Stump" for more detailed info. on working a grinder. After grinding the stump you'll need to clean up the woodchips, refuel the machine and clean it before you take it back. 1' Stumps will usually take about 2 and a half hours to pick up the machine, learn how it works, grind the stump, clean, refuel and return. 2' stumps will take about 3 and a half hours. Let's do a little math.


2.5 hours @ $50 an hour = $150


Damage Waiver = $36


Fuel $10

Total= $196

Plus you have to do the work and remove the chips

Or you can hire a professional stump grinder. Here in Utah, we have very competitive prices. We also carry insurance in case any property or utilities are damaged. A 1' stump that would cost about $196 in the example above would cost about $110 to hire a company removed, plus they will remove the chips and do all the heavy lifting. 

As you can tell we are a bit biased about having us remove your stumps. Feel free to try any or all the methods above, and if you need help please don't hesitate to call us!

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