Grumpy's Mom turns a tree stump into work of art. Photo: Mondo Bender

If you have big trees, sooner or later one is going to croak, forcing you to cut it down to a stump. What should you do with this stump? Leave it, remove it, donate it to charity? Here are five options. Some make good sense, some make little sense, and some show whoever tries them has no sense at all.

So let's say you have a stump like this one that's several feet wide. What's the first dumb way you could try to remove it?


Chain it to the towing rig on the back of your truck or SUV, throw that baby into 4-wheel drive, and gun it! Then go buy another truck, because you've just destroyed this one.

OK, what's another way to deal with a stump that's not nearly as dumb as the method above and yet holds great appeal to the homeowner with the extra Y-chromosome who just blew up his transmission?


Burn it! Yep, just drill some holes into the stump or use a chainsaw to cut a pentagram into the surface. Then pour fuel oil into the holes or grooves, let it soak in for a couple of days, and light that sucker up! What could possibly go wrong??? (Let me be clear -- unless you live on a farm, private island, or a passing asteroid, this is a really bad idea. Pentagrams scare people.)

All right, Grumpy, if we can't yank 'em out or burn 'em out, what do we do with them? One alternative is to transform them into works of art. See my dear, old Mom up there at the top? She decided to pile rocks around the stump in her back yard to create a miniature Stonehenge. It works too! As the sun rises on the summer solstice, a beam of sunlight splits two of the rocks and shines directly on her garbage can. I got weak in the knees when I saw it.

Here's some more stump art for those of you skilled with a chainsaw.


Just for the record, I would have removed the drink can from the shot. Soft drinks have been linked to skyrocketing rates of squirrel obesity and Type-2 diabetes.

Now For the Nitty-Gritty OK, you don't want to trash your truck, immolate your yard, or decorate your stump. You still want it gone, though. You can do it the painfully slow, cheap way or the quick, more costly way. Let's discuss the slow way first -- a chemical stump remover.

emPhoto: Hi-Yield/em

There are two kinds of chemical stump removers. The first, like the Hi-Yield, contains potassium nitrate and slowly decomposes the stump from the inside out. This is for dead stumps only. You drill holes into the stump, pour the stuff in according to label directions, wait for a year or more for the stump to rot, and then yank it out using your new truck.

For freshly cut stumps that are sending up shoots, potassium nitrate is useless. You need to apply a product with a herbicide called triclopyr that will be translocated to the roots and kill them, like this one.

emPhoto: Fertilome/em

After that, just wait years and years until termites finish off the stump.

Time to stop fooling around. The best way to remove a stump is to use a stump grinder like this one. It uses a powerful engine and saw to quickly turn a stump and its major roots into sawdust before your gleeful, little eyes.


While you can rent stump grinders from equipment rental places, unless you've used one before and still have both legs, Grumpy strongly advises you hire a tree service to do this. The average cost for grinding a stump is $2 to $3 per inch of trunk diameter with a minimum of $100. Your body parts cost more.