Killing Tree Stumps

Ideas For Killing Tree Stumps

Killing tree stumps is often necessary, since when cutting down a tree, the stump often remains alive, and will send up new sprouts. As long as the stump is alive it won't decompose, so you find yourself having to live with it, which can sometimes be a nuisance. There are a number of ways for killing tree stumps. Some are expensive, some are very inexpensive. Some are quick and other take time. A quick effective method is often the most expensive, while the method that costs very little may take time and patience. Life is sometimes like that.

Some types of trees do not send up new sprouts when cut down. Many softwoods, like fir and cedar are like that. When you see a large softwood stump with a new tree growing out of it, the tree likely grew from a seed deposited in the rotting stump. Hardwoods, like oak and sycamore, will very often send up new sprouts after the tree has been cut down, and some trees, such as cottonwoods and willows are notorious for doing that. It isn't always just a matter of killing the stump, sometimes the root system has to be destroyed as well. Fortunately, there are methods that do both.

Pull It Out - If you have a large tree in a small yard in an urban area, having it removed can be an expensive proposition. Having paid to have the tree cut down, you may still be left with a large stump, and removing that can also be very expensive, not to mention creating havoc in lawns, gardens, sidewalks, neighbor's yards and so forth. Still, having a stump physically removed is one option, and in some situations may be the best option.

Grind It Down - Another approach is to hire someone who owns a stump grinder to grind the stump down until its surface is well beneath the surface of the soil. If this is a fir or cedar tree, or another softwood, this approach may suffice. The roots will die, and sprouts will not emerge from them. A stump grinder may not do the job completely for something like a willow however, which can send up sprouts from its roots, and in the process develop a new root system. Having a stump ground down however may still be a good as well as an affordable solution. A person operating a stump grinder will often charge a flat fee plus a per tree price, and a very large stump may cost even more. Stump grinding may well be worth looking into. A professional should be able to tell you, based on the type of tree you had, whether this approach makes sense.

Chemicals are another approach. Some will cause the stump to eventually decay, others will simply kill it. Killing tree stumps and removing tree stumps are not always one and the same. One can kill a stump, yet the stump will remain, perhaps for years. A decision needs to be made whether removing the stump is desired in addition to killing it.

Inexpensive Methods - If a tree stump isn't to large, and is the remains of a type of tree that tends to send up sprouts, covering the stump to shut of its source of light will eventually kill it. A bucket will serve for a small stump, and black plastic tarp will work for larger stumps. Several of the least expensive ways to kill a stump are (1) pour an Epsom salt and water solution over the stump, (2) drill a few holes in the stump and pour diesel fuel in the holes (you don't have to light it), and (3) pour a solution of caustic soda (sodium hydroxide) on the stump or in holes drilled in the stump.

There are also a number of commercial products one can use to kill a stump chemically. The local hardware store often has several of these products to choose from, and they are generally formulated just for the purpose of killing stumps.

Be Careful With Herbicides - Certain trees, the cottonwood being one example, will share a common root system if growing in groups. This happens through root grafting which takes place over time. If you attempt to kill a stump chemically, nearby trees can possibly be affected, and you may end up killing more than originally intended.

Burn Or Plant - Burning a stump is also an option, but if the stump is green it may take a while, and may not be the best approach in an urban neighborhood. A novel idea, especially useful when a large stump is involved, is to hollow out the stump and use it as a planter. A stump can make an attractive planter for several years before it decomposes naturally. This works best of course for stumps that won't be continuously sending up new sprouts. A stump can sometime serve as a useful landscaping element, though admittedly the same cannot be said if one has a yard full of them.



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