Reduce the Cost of Removing a Tree Stump

by Dollar Stretcher Contributors

Related Articles

How to Create an Outdoor Room on a Budget

12 Frugal Landscaping Tips

Removing a Downed Tree

Reduce the Cost of Tree Stump Removal

We took down an old oak tree in our backyard last year. It was small enough that we could do it ourselves, but we didn't have any way to remove the stump. We'd like to build a deck right where the tree stump is. I hate to spend money I need for the deck hiring a stump grinder. Is there anything I can do to reduce the cost of removing this tree stump?

Disintegrate with Rock Salt

If your area allows burning, you can position stones around the stump and set it on fire on a calm day. We've done that with two stumps on our property. We live out in the country and there are no restrictions on burning. We've also dumped rock salt on a stump at the side of the house. The stump disintegrated. It took about a year and several applications of rock salt, but the ground came out level. So if you have time before you want to build your deck, I recommend that route, especially if the stump is close to the house.

Here's a Quick Solution

If you can wait for several months to a year, make a checkerboard pattern on top of the stump with the saw and then cover with water softener salt. It will rot quickly and you can pick it away.

Get Out Your Drill

We had a similar problem. We cut the stump as low to the ground as possible, actually it was pretty even with the ground. Then we drilled some holes and filled with stump remover. The stump just rotted away and cost us next to nothing and was not hard to do either.

Make It Family Time

I have never paid for stump removal. Instead, check if you need a burn permit in your area, and using a fire ring if possible on smaller stumps, have a bonfire and some great family time. Be sure to be considerate of your neighbors and not burn on windy days and invite them to your "campfire" night if possible. After the first fire, use a small shovel and carefully dig the dirt out from around the roots to determine if the stump is sufficiently burned and can now be easily dug out or if it needs to be burned again. By exposing the roots, usually the second time is the charm and it is gone!

How They Do It in Farm Country

Here in farm country, tree stump removal is a common and necessary thing to clear pastures and/or just get rid of the ones that have been cut from a forest. The way they do it is to find a metal garbage can that is larger around than the stump, take out the bottom, and push it into the ground, completely surrounding the stump. Then they fill the can with kindling and something flammable and light it. Slowly the stump burns out. You need to watch it to make sure that the fire doesn't get away from you, and you want to dowse it once it is lower than the ground, so you're not also burning roots, unless you're willing to monitor those also burning out slowly.

Be aware that if you don't remove the roots, they will eventually decompose and drop, so don't put any part of the deck foundation structure near that area.

Vinegar and Boiling Water Do the Trick

I've managed to remove and also kill a few tree stumps on my property over the years. I get the tree cut down as close to the ground as I can. Then I drill holes in the stump. I pour vinegar and boiling hot water down the holes and around the stump area. Initially, I will treat the stump daily when the weather is dry for a week or so. If a few sprouts come up, I treat them the same as if they were weeds, either with weed killer or the boiling water and vinegar. With the stump, usually every week or so, I will chop down the sides, vertically until the stump is dry and splitting itself. Usually at that point, I'm able to extract quite a bit of the stump with a crow bar underneath the stump. Eventually the stump does loosen up and I can pry it up and out. Keep the area clean of sprouts or cones to prevent the tree from reseeding itself.
Karen K.

Sometimes the Old Ways Are the Best Ways

My former next door neighbor used to burn tree stumps after the tree had been removed. The fire smoldered for a long time and I think he burned the middle part before the outer surface. He grew up on a farm during the Great Depression and knew all the old ways of doing things.

It will Fall Apart in Pieces

I had a 40-foot pine tree that was two feet around that I cut down. The stump was too expensive to remove. A farmer told me to drive as many large steel nails as I could as far into the stump. It took a little over a year and I never had any sprouts, but the nails rusted and the stump fell apart in pieces.

Get Critters Interested in Helping

I read once that if you put honey or sugar water in the stump, the critters (ants, porcupines, squirrels, birds, etc.) will gnaw away at the wood to get the sweet taste. However, I don't know how long it would take.

Let Nature Take Its Course

For tree stump deterioration, pour a mixture of buttermilk and vinegar on the stump. This increases the rate of deterioration. I personally think letting nature take its course is the easiest solution. Use the stumps as small stands and place flowers in pots upon them. The natural elements of nature will do the work for you!

Check Out Resources Online

On Pinterest there was a pin about removing a tree stump by using Epsom salts; it came from an article in eHow. So go to eHow and check it out. It seems like an easy and inexpensive way. It says that a large stump might take a month or two to decay, but the roots decay as well.

calculator iconCalculator: Do I Qualify for a Home Equity Loan?

Put the Stump to Work

If the stump is tall enough, build around it and put a tabletop on it for a deck table. After you add some benches, you will be set to entertain on your new deck.

Might Come In Handy for a Woodworker

There may be an amateur or small woodworking business in your area that would come take the stump for free or even pay you for it, as making tabletops, bowls, and the like from tree stumps is all the rage right now. You could advertise that you have a free stump for the taking on Freecycle or Craigslist and see who replies.
Terry in Hoschton, GA

Take the Next Step:

  • Visit the TDS library for frugal landscaping tips and ideas.
  • Make your deck look new again with these tips for deck clean-up and repair.
  • Could spending 5 minutes reading a newsletter twice a week save you time and money every day? Dollar Stretcher Tips readers think so. Subscribe and find out how many ideas stretch your day and your dollar! Subscribers get a copy of our ebook Little Luxuries: 130 Ways to Live Better...For Less for FREE.

Have an idea that we didn't include? Send it to us and we'll add it to the article.

Stay Connected with TDS

Little Luxuries

to the Dollar Stretcher newsletter and get a copy
of our ebook
Little Luxuries:
130 Ways to Live Better...For Less
for FREE!

Your Email:

View the TDS Privacy Policy.

Get Out of Debt