How to Kill a Tree Stump & Roots Fast: 7 Stump Remover Steps

Woman bending over a shovel with small plants at her feet while she looks at a tree stump and wonders how to kill a tree stump and roots fast.

The question of how to kill a tree stump and roots fast has haunted many a homeowner year after year.

Sometimes an unsightly or storm-damaged tree must be cut down for safety reasons or has simply fallen over, leaving behind the stump.

And while there are certainly some professional stump tree removal services that will dig out stumps, there are some steps you can take to safely (and eco-consciously) remove that stump, fast.

Check out these effective techniques for how to kill a tree stump and roots quickly!

7 Home Stump Remover Steps That Work

Leaving stumps in place is not only an eyesore, but the roots themselves will continue to grow and spread. The roots themselves make placing a garden, or more trees difficult.

Photo of tree stumps urrounded by trees in the forest.

(Image: Georgi Kyurpanov7)

But what’s the easiest and best method to achieve this goal apart from calling in the professionals? What are the options?

The following 7 steps can help remove an old stump so that the ground can be used to plant a new sapling, or some other plants.

#1. Stump Remover Best Methods: Dig It Out

Brute force. Grab a shovel and a pick ax, and get to work. This is generally the first go-to method, the cheapest but also the most labor-intensive, so it might not be the best option for your grandma.

An image of a tree stump that has been removed from the ground.

(Image: Tigrrre8)

This approach can be time-consuming, backbreaking, and potentially damaging to your garden or yard as it entails a lot of deep digging, hacking, and more digging.

Once the digging has begun, the true scope of how deep and wide the root system has traveled underground can be revealed, and the size of the hole will be dependent on how far and how deep the furthest root has sunk.

A lot of patience needs to be packed into the toolbox as this is essentially a hands-on DIY stump removal technique that involves a lot of shoveling, chopping, and dirt removal. But when it comes to how to remove tree stump by hand, this is the way to go.

If done correctly, it can get rid of even the most twisted and submerged roots, eliminating any possibility of them regrowing at a later date. This is definitely how to stop tree stump from sprouting in unwanted areas of the lawn.

Best Tree Stump Killer

To start, the stump needs to be exposed completely by digging around it. Once the stump has been excavated as much as possible, a handsaw or an axe needs to be employed to hack away at the remains. To combat the compacted dirt, and even to sever some of the roots, a narrow spade is recommended. This essential tool gets into tight spaces and helps to pry buried roots loose so they can be cut and pulled out.

On a hot day, this can be hard work.

The advantage is that, as the stump is reduced in size, smaller hidden roots are exposed and can be easily ripped out as the hole widens.

There is no denying that without using power tools to chop and excavate the hole, this method will take hours to complete. But sometimes brawn is best.

Either way, there will be satisfaction in a job well done, especially when the stump is whittled down to a manageable size and lifted free.

Once that milestone has been achieved, any remaining roots can then be excised with ease.

#2. How To Kill Tree Stump & Roots Fast With the Least Effort Using a Plastic Covering

If knowing how to kill a tree stump and roots fast is a priority, then this method is by no means the fastest, but it is one of the easiest.

Some would say that this is the best tree stump killer as it involves cutting the stump and the roots from its life-giving energy source — sunlight.5

This process involves covering the unwanted stump with a thick tarp or a black bag to completely cut off any contact with daylight. Before encasing it, though, holes need to be drilled and a highly concentrated nitrogen-based fertilizer liberally applied.

Natural Way To Kill Tree Stumps (How To Rot a Tree Stump Naturally)

Water needs to be poured completely over and around the stump before the black tarp is secured in place, first by rocks and then by a layer of mulch, which is then further watered.

An image of a black tree stump, with visible wood grain and textured surface. The stump appears to be old and weathered, with signs of decay such as cracks and holes.

(Image: Ri_Ya9)

This method of creating an environment devoid of light will hasten the normal decaying process and is a great way to rot a tree stump naturally so that the stump and roots will eventually fall apart with a little help from nature.

How Long Does It Take for Tree Stumps To Rot Depends on the Methods Applied

It will take about two to three months for the rot to set in fully in this situation and the rotten remains can be easily hauled out. The upside is it isn’t as dangerous as wielding heavy tools or machinery and takes a minimal amount of effort for complete tree root removal.

#3. How To Remove Tree Stump With Boiling Water

A simple way to destroy the stump and change the landscape back to a level playing field is to use boiling water. No other added chemicals or solutions are required, making it the ideal homemade tree stump killer.

Expose as much of the roots as possible beneath and around the stump, or stumps, if more than one, so that numerous holes can be drilled into the base and the roots themselves, especially if they are quite thick.

These holes are to ensure that the scalding water permeates the entire root system from within. But also, the scalding water needs to be poured over all of the exposed roots to further shock the entire system to damage it sufficiently so it perishes faster.

With scalding water, the entire system will be critically damaged and unable to regrow any offshoots, with no environmental damage.

The rot will set in over the next few months, reducing the offending lump of wood to mulch so that the remains can easily be extricated and disposed of.

#4. How Do You Kill a Tree Stump Fast? Burn It Out!

If time is of the essence, this could be one of the fastest approaches how to kill tree stumps and roots quickly.7

It involves either drilling holes or deeply scoring all the exposed surfaces, carefully poring kerosene, and setting it alight; local permission from the fire department may be required before this method can be used.

A close-up photo of burning tree stump.

(Image: Manfred Richter10)

A little trick to use is to place firewood on top with a few kilos of charcoal around the stump to form a fireproof barrier. This technique helps in how to kill the tree roots as the fire penetrates beneath the stump, the smaller particles attacking from different angles.

It’s important to monitor this burning process until the stump is burned well below the surface.

After the fire has died down, the tree stump will be reduced to ash, leaving nothing to be dug out or hauled away.


#5. How To Remove Tree Stump by Hand Using a Grinder

This method is probably one of the quickest of the top 7 stump remover steps on how to remove tree stumps and get rid of the roots. It requires a bit of effort as the tree trunk and the tree roots must be broken up by hiring a stump grinder machine.

To start, clear away any small stones and dig around the stump to expose the roots. Once that is done, use the grinder to wear away at the stump and cut away any exposed roots, clearing away loose chunks so they don’t get in the way.

A few hours may be needed, but once everything has been removed from the soil, it’s then a matter of filling in the now-exposed hole with dirt and finishing the surface with topsoil or grass.

#6. How To Rot a Tree Stump Fast Using Chemicals and a Tree Stump Remover

Two chemicals that will kill the stumps and their offshoots completely are potassium nitrate and high-nitrogen fertilizers. Both are harmful to pets and surrounding flora and fauna and should be handled with care.

It can be tempting to use bleach if you are searching for an effective way how to kill a tree stump and roots fast, as it can be as easy as pour and go.

An image of a dead tree stump, with no visible signs of foliage or branches.

(Image: Music4life11)

However, this harsh chemical can be detrimental to the health of any nearby ecosystem,2 and killing tree stumps with bleach should be avoided.

A product specifically invented for just this task is a tree stump remover. These stump-removing products contain insecticides such as triclopyr that prevent suckers from regrowing and kill the roots satisfactorily.

This chemically charged product is superbly efficient at thoroughly penetrating the system of the remaining tree stump to the deepest root, reducing the natural decay time of the plant from years to as little as 4 to 6 weeks.

They are safe for the environment and the speed with which the wood rots is impressive. Even better, the offending stump can then be taken out with barely any effort.

#7. Killing Tree Roots With Salt

Killing tree roots with salt to engage the decomposition and eventual death of the protruding stump and submerged roots is a very effective method.

It will take months for it to fully take effect, and it is undoubtedly not the quickest way to put a technique on how to rot wood fast into action, but it does work.

This process involves drilling multiple holes, filling them with rock salt, and then fully covering the exposed stump with soil and mulch. Once covered, saturate every few days with water to assist the roots in absorbing the solution, dissolving the salt, and compacting the soil.

This process encourages fungus to grow within the dead tree stump, much like a deadly disease. It spreads rapidly like cancer, breaking down the stump over the next couple of months in a natural way.

However, caution is advised if this method is employed to remove undesirable stumps. Although rock salt is a naturally occurring chemical, it is not the ideal option.

In addition to destroying tree stumps, the sodium and chlorine found in rock salt have the potential to harm nearby healthy trees and vegetation if they seep into the ecosystem.

Which one of these 7 home stump remover steps is right for you?

How To Kill a Tree Stump & Roots Fast Using Homemade Trick

Another homemade trick that is effective on how to kill a tree stump and roots fast, is Epsom salts.

Also known as magnesium sulfate, this stump removal remedy is often used as a popular bath addition, but when used to accelerate the decomposition process, it is deadly efficient.

The effort required involves drilling a few holes, sprinkling the Epsom salts generously over and around the stump, and covering it with a waterproof tarp to prevent any of the solution being washed away.

How To Rot Wood Fast

Although composed of three essential ingredients for plant nutrition for trees — magnesium,6 sulfur, and oxygen — when used in a highly concentrated dose, the effect on the stumps and roots is devastating.

The Epsom salt acts as a desiccating agent, thoroughly depriving the remains of absorbing any further moisture. Within a month, the stump and all the roots are completely dead and ready to be excavated.

Using Epsom salt is easy on the budget, and applying it is effortless, with no aches, strains, or long hours of toiling physically under the hot sun.

If you’re looking for an effortless method how to kill a tree stump fast, then look no further.

How To Get Rid of a Stump in 2-3 Days Using a Professional & Simple Discount Trick

Sometimes, remodeling a garden involves removing a tree that is simply in the way and won’t fit in with the new design. But depending on the size of the tree, it’s not just a matter of grabbing some tools and sawing away.

An image of an axe resting on top of a tree stump.

(Image: Pavlofox12)

Sometimes professionals are needed, not only if it is a particularly large tree, but also to ascertain if any permits are required. And once the tree is cut down, can its removal be covered by the house insurance?

A professional can answer all of these questions, saving a lot of time inquiring about the sometimes-intricate local statutes on removing a tree that has sustained some damage or is just an eyesore.

Fortunately, an estimated cost can be found online by using a cost estimator to unearth the local laws.

The state where the tree is located needs to be entered into the estimator tool, as well as the size of the tree and which service is required, as there are several.

Inputting the zip code is important as laws on cutting down trees vary considerably from state to state. Also, where the tree is located has to be factored into the equation, whether it is near power lines or overhanging a public pathway, for example.

Generally, when the tree is on private property, there are no restrictions to its removal unless the tree species are protected.

For some states, such as California, Florida, Georgia, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Texas, for example, cutting down a tree will require a permit if the circumference is greater than 12 inches. Still, this size restriction varies between these states.

To prevent damage and protect Heritage trees that are endangered in states such as Minnesota,3 Illinois, and New Jersey, permits may be required not only in the event that the property owner wants the tree removed, but even if branches need to be pruned back.

In any event, regardless of the state, it’s prudent to check personally or to request a professional to investigate local laws. Fines for proceeding without a permit can be as affordable as $1,000 or as painful as $10,000.

With the online estimator, local laws should be researched automatically, but always confirm with the professional tree surgeon contracted.

The quotes for using a professional can vary widely depending on the service required. It’s important with the online calculator to specify whether just branches need cutting back, or whether a full tree needs felling.

Tree Root Removal

Removing the felled tree will also boost the price, as well extraction of the stump. In other words, the more complete the service, the higher the cost.

The cost of removing a tree that is between 30 and 60 feet tall, ranges from $750 to $1,200 on average. It’s prudent to budget between $1,200 and $1,800 for trees that are taller than 60 feet. These prices will include labor, all cutting equipment, and vehicle costs for removals.

Sometimes, the price can spiral upwards when using a licensed tree expert depending on the complexity of the tree-cutting project in regards to nearby powerlines, tree location, etc., and can potentially exceed $3,500.

If the stump removal service is requested, an additional $165 to $475 should be anticipated depending on the size, the number of roots to be removed, and accessibility. Additionally, an extra $100 may be charged for removal.

How To Rot a Stump With Sugar

But if you know how to rot a stump with sugar, among other methods, this extra cost can be saved. With sugar it simply involves covering the stump with sugar, covering it with mulch, and then letting the natural decaying process get to work.

Overall, when initially researching the best way how to kill a tree stump and roots fast, employing the services of a professional may seem like the easiest option, but it’s not the cheapest.

One little trick to reduce the bill, to get something of a discount, is to inquire mid-winter to get the tree felled or the stump removed. With less work than during the summer months, a tree expert may be willing to offer a price reduction.4

Who Is Responsible for Fallen Tree Removal? Bad News (& Good)

Who is responsible for fallen tree removal? It depends. Insurance is always an essential addition to a contract when hiring a professional to cut down a tree on private property. But what happens if a tree topples over in a storm, or collapses from disease, decay, or just old age?

At the end of the day, if a tree falls someone is going to notice, and someone is going to have to take responsibility for clearing it away, whether it has caused any damage or not.

Well, there’s good news and bad news.

If the tree falls on the property owner’s land and causes no damage, then the removal cost will fall on them personally, regardless of the reason for the unexpected collapse.

An image of a fallen tree on a road, which has been split into two pieces.

(Image: Joe Dudeck13)

If a weather-damaged tree falls and causes property damage, either to a shed, to decking on the same property, or even a neighbor’s fence, then generally the house insurance will cover the cost of removal and any damage.

And this is where the news is neither good nor bad, if the tree falls and damages a neighbor’s property, the owner of the tree must shoulder the cost of removal but not the cost of repairing the next-door neighbor’s property damage.

That cost will be covered by the neighbor’s insurance and not the tree owner’s insurance.

However, no insurance policy will pay out if proper, preventable measures were not taken to ensure the health and stability of a tree if it topples over due to neglect, root instability, or disease.

Therefore, the most responsible and prudent thing to do is to have trees inspected frequently, and if any diseases are discovered, then the dead wood should be removed.

Homemade Tree Killer

Sometimes there is a need to kill a tree if it is dying slowly from the top down, called crown decline, or from another malady. A homemade tree-killing solution of vinegar and salt will cause the tree to die faster and is easy to make.

Mix undiluted vinegar with salt and drill several holes in the trunk at downwards angles, then pour in the mixture.

This process may have to be repeated, but once it infiltrates the tree’s system, it will get the job done.

At the end of the day, the manner in which this task is approached can be dependent on cost, time, and energy. But at least now the knowledge of how to kill a tree stump and roots fast is now at the tip of your green fingers.

Which Method Is Best for You?

Tackling the protruding stump head-on by employing a professional could well be the fastest method if stumping up the exorbitant fee is within the budget.

However, home remedies can be just as fast and effective in removing tree stumps and roots. Some of them are quick if getting physical isn’t a problem, while others encourage a different approach, allowing the rotting process to take its natural course. Understanding how to kill a tree stump and roots can save you both time and money.

Frequently Asked Questions About How To Kill a Tree Stump

Will Copper Nails Kill a Tree Stump? (Does a Copper Nail Kill a Tree?)

Sometimes the fastest way isn’t always the best. The method selected to kill the stump can depend largely on its location. If access is a concern, being too close to a fence, for example, would eliminate the option of burning the stump, the risk of the firing spreading too great a risk.

How Long Does It Take To Kill a Tree With Copper Nails?

The time for the stump to completely die can vary from 4 months to a year but, in some instances, this method can be more easily implemented. This homemade tree killer seeps poison thoroughly into the stump and into the roots, if the stump is located in an awkward location, would do the job nicely and if not quickly.

Killing a Tree With Vinegar: Will Vinegar Kill Tree Roots?

When killing a tree with vinegar, it needs to be the undiluted version and used in large amounts.

Can You Kill Tree Stump With Epsom Salt? An Effective DIY Stump Removal Method

When it comes to killing the stump and removing all the roots, nature has the best solution. Being able to accelerate the rotting process with Epsom salts is a great way to solve the issue with a minimum of effort.

Is There a Homemade Tree Stump Killer?

There are several products on the market that are effective at killing a tree stump and its roots. If used incorrectly, the chemicals they contain can have an adverse reaction on nearby plants and even on insects.

Does Baking Soda Kill Tree Roots?

This is a natural alternative when mixed with table salt, vinegar, and boiling water. Simply wash the stump in the solution, and in no time at all, the desired result will be achieved, and the dead stump and root can be removed.

Will Cooking Oil Kill a Tree?

The short answer is yes. Sort of. It does prevent the tree stumps from accessing oxygen, but to be effective, gallons would need to be continuously poured over the stump, making it impractical.

How To Stop Tree Stump From Sprouting?

One of the more effective ways is by using Epsom salts, and rock salt. Even if another method has been used to extract the stump, using salt will ensure that months later no roots will sprout in unwanted places.

How Long Does It Take for Tree Stumps To Rot?

If left solely to its own devices, a tree stump could take up to 10 years to rot away.1 If other methods or substances are utilized to accelerate the process, the decomposition time could be anywhere from a few months up to a year.

Is Killing Tree Stumps With Bleach Possible?

Being a toxic substance, bleach will start to rot a tree stump very quickly. Once poured into pre-drilled holes and over the exposed wood, in a matter of weeks, the stump will be sufficiently decomposed to be extracted, depending on its size. This method works best on newly cut stumps as the solution is absorbed easily. Care should be taken not to spray any nearby plants or trees, or they, too, will start to rot.

How To Kill Tree Roots? Killing Tree Roots With Bleach Fast?

The process of soaking the tree roots with bleach needs to be undertaken with care. Expose the roots as much as possible and pre-drill dozens of deep holes, but not all the way through the roots. Inject all of them with bleach, ensuring there is no spillage, then cover completely and wait for the rot to set in.

Is Killing Tree Stumps With Motor Oil Possible?

This method can be caustic to nature if not handled with care. In a nutshell, motor oil will poison the stump and within 3-4 months a small stump would be dead. It is inefficient, though, for a large stump with decomposition taking anywhere from 1 to 2 years.


1Ball, J. (2019, March 6). How To Remove a Stump. South Dakota State University Extension. Retrieved 2022, from <>

2Division of Agriculture. (2022). Ten Easy Ways To Kill a Tree (And How To Avoid Them). Agriculture and Natural Resources. Retrieved September 21, 2022, from <>

3Goeringer, P. (2018, November 30). Urban Landowners in Maryland Have a Duty To Inspect Property and Handle Diseased or Damaged Trees To Prevent Damage to Neighbors. Tree Damage. Retrieved 2022, from <> (2022). Licensed Tree Expert Information. Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved September 21, 2022, from <>

5The University of Arizona. (2022). Cut Stump Application of Herbicides to Manage Woody Vegetation. Cooperative Extension. Retrieved September 21, 2022, from <>

6University of Maryland Extension. (2022, April 18). Salt or Fertilizer Damage on Trees. Resources. Retrieved 2022, from <>

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