A tree in your backyard has died or become diseased. That means it’s time to completely remove it from your yard before it falls down, or before the disease can spread to healthy trees in the surrounding area. You might be surprised to learn that professionals charge two fees when dealing with diseased trees: one for cutting the bulk of the tree down, and another for stump removal. As it turns out, stump removal often ends up being the most complicated part of this process. The good news is, while it can take time and effort to get rid of an unwanted tree stump, it is possible to do without hiring help. Any of these methods should work:


Stump grinder

If you live close enough to a DIY store that offers tool rentals, grinding may be a great option for you. You’ll need to rent an angle grinder for about a day. Additionally, you’ll want to get a hold of some safety glasses, a rake, a chainsaw, a shovel, and a mattock. Start by clearing the area around the stump of rocks and other debris. Then cut down as much of the stump as you are able to with the chainsaw. The closer to the ground you can get it, the better. Next, you’ll start using the grinder. File the entire stump down until it’s about four inches below ground level. You should be able to easily fill in the remaining hole.

An angle grinder can be a dangerous piece of equipment, so be sure that you are comfortable with operating one before trying this method.

Pulling the Stump

You’ll need considerably more equipment if you plan on using force to pull the stump out of the ground. Be warned, this method is extremely labor intensive and generally not recommended. You’ll need a chainsaw, a mattock, a shovel, a pry bar, and an ax. Use the chainsaw to remove any branches that may have grown out of the stump. From here, you can start cutting away at the stump itself, but you’ll want to leave enough of it above the ground to use for leverage later. Use the mattock and shovel to dig up the ground and expose the roots—a hose can help to further clear some dirt away here. Now, you’ll want to sever the biggest roots with the ax. Push on the stump, and continue cutting the roots as they become exposed. Repeat this process until the tree stump has been completely uprooted.

Chemical Remover

Alternatively, you can use a chemical remover, like potassium nitrate, to remove a stubborn tree stump. However, this technique will still require a few tools: a chainsaw, a drill, and an ax. Here too, you’ll start by cutting away as much of the stump as possible with the chainsaw. After that, you’ll want to drill one-inch holes around its perimeter. Move inwards towards the center, adding more holes as you go. The holes should all be about eight to 12 inches deep. Proceed to drill holes along the sides of the stump at 45-degree angles – these should connect with the vertical holes you drilled initially. Pour a liberal amount potassium nitrate into the holes, and add water. This solution will need to sit for at least a month. Eventually, the stump will begin to soften and can easily be broken apart with the ax.

As this is a chemical solution, you’ll want to be sure to keep your pets and children away from the stump while the potassium nitrate works its magic.

Professional Help

Stump grinder

You may find that removing the stump from your yard is a little more complicated than expected. It’s possible that renting an angle grinder in your area may cost you more than hiring a professional tree removal service, or that you’re not comfortable using chemicals in your backyard. These are sufficient reasons to at least consider getting professional quotes before attempting any of these methods yourself.