Monday, June 15, 2015

What to do with a Tree Stump? by Donna Duffy

Last October, I had a huge elm tree removed from a corner of my yard. I was left with a tree stump about 2 feet tall, and it’s sprouting like crazy. I’m not sure what I want to do with this stump, so I turned to CSU Extension for information. 

There are several ways to remove a tree stump. Before choosing a removal method, check local ordinances about retaining dead trees or burning stumps in your yard. Here are some suggestions from CSU Extension’s Plantalk on Stump Removal.

You can dig up the stump with a sharp spade or pick. This is both time- and labor-intensive, but effective. This method works well depending on the size of the stump and the enthusiasm of the labor crew. Since my labor crew consists of me, I won’t be using this option.

I could consult with a local arborist or tree service. Tree specialists use professional equipment to grind or chip the stump into large shreds before removing it. The cost for this service varies depending on the size and placement of the stump. 

Some people choose to speed up the decomposition process of the stump with chemicals available at garden centers. Instructions for stump removal chemicals will vary from product to product, but all require drilling several holes in the stump. A measured amount of chemical is poured in each hole, then water is added to fill the holes. Let the mixture stand for four to six weeks. Repeat applications may be necessary. Once the stump is decomposed, it is burned.


Photo courtesy thisoldhouse.com

I’m thinking about including the stump in my landscaping. One idea is to hollow out the top with a router or drill and use it as a bird feeder. Climbing vines or annuals planted in the stump with good garden soil can turn the stump into a natural container. It could also be carved into a seat, or decorated as a garden focal point.

Photo courtesy Farmer Tyler Facebook page

The easiest option is to let the stump decay naturally. Cut off all new sucker growth before it reaches eight inches in height to gradually deplete the stored food. This can take five to 10 years, but is inexpensive and chemical-free.