How To Rot a Tree Stump Fast & Erase Roots (Homemade Trick)

Man leaning out his home window holds a blue bag of salt after learning how to rot a tree stump fast and how to rot a tree stump naturally with Epsom salt.

Knowing how to rot a tree stump fast is essential to keep your home safe and beautiful after tree removal. Tree removal allows for other trees to grow and brightens a home by allowing direct sunlight penetration.

But, many stump removal methods employ dangerous chemicals that end up in the ground. That’s why using these homemade tricks to learn how to rot a tree stump fast (and erase the roots) are a much more eco-friendly solution.

In places where a tree has fallen, poses a danger to the people living within, or the trees planted are bad for the environment, tree removal becomes essential.

However, cutting down a tree leaves behind a stump that could be dangerous, unnecessary, and unsightly. If you decide to wait until the tree stump naturally rots, you might have to wait for nearly ten years.

Sometimes, the stump grows even after the tree has been cut.

Close up image of a young spruce growing from a rotten tree stump.

(Image: Chris F8)

That has prompted people to devise ways to rot a tree stump quickly and without interfering with anything else close to the stump.

This comprehensive guide shows you how to remove a tree stump quickly, using homemade, natural methods that actually work.

How To Rot a Tree Stump Quickly (How To Rot a Tree Stump Fast at Home)

There are multiple ways to rot a tree stump quickly, ranging from killing the roots to fastening the natural decomposition of the stump. Most people prefer home remedies because hiring a tree removal company to do it for you could be costly. You could get the services for free, but that only applies to special groups like seniors and veterans.

Image of a rotten tree in a forest surrounded by trees.

(Image: George Martin9)

Some of the methods you can use to accelerate the rotting process of a tree stump are:

  • Using High Nitrogen Fertilizer
  • Using Epsom Salt
  • Using a Plastic Bag
  • Using Rock Salt
  • Using Hot Water

How To Rot a Tree Stump Naturally (DIY Stump Removal and Tree Root Removal)

Even if stump removal is not an easy task, there are ways to simplify it and make it easy for anyone to do it on their own. Some of these home remedies are also easy to implement. You can find the products in local stores or at home. Below are some ways to DIY a stump removal using natural and easy-to-apply methods.

#1. Using High Nitrogen Fertilizer

Adding nitrogen to a piece of wood encourages the growth of fungi,5 which fastens the rotting process of that piece of wood. You can apply the same logic to a tree stump using fertilizers high in nitrogen. Below is a step-by-step process on how to rot a tree stump fast using high-nitrogen fertilizer.

 How To Rot a Tree Stump Fast With High Nitrogen Fertilizer

With Nitrogen Fertilizer, follow these steps to rot the stump:

  1. Start by cutting the stump as close to the ground as possible. You can use a chainsaw for that and ensure you have protection to avoid injuries. The process ensures that the chemicals you put into the stump have less material to eat up, accelerating the process.
  2. The second step is drilling downward holes at the stump’s top and sides. The holes should be just a few inches deep, but you can use a big drill bit for better results.
  3. Take a commercial fertilizer high in nitrogen and start filling up the holes. You can find that in any local fertilizer store.
  4. Wet the stump and soak the ground near the stump.
  5. Cover the stump with a plastic tarp to contain the moisture, which will help the chemicals break down the stump.
  6. You can hold down the plastic tarp with stones and add mulch on top of the bag to retain the moisture. Tree bark and hay are some of the best organic mulch to use.

#2. Using Epsom Salt

Epsom salt is one of the most popular and cost-effective ways of removing a stump fast.3 It is also readily available, which means people can use it anywhere to remove tree stumps from their property. It works by draining the tree’s moisture and leaving it to die.

It is a more organic solution with the same dissolving properties as nitrogen and, therefore, a useful homemade trick. A pack of 19lbs costs less than $30,1 which is quite affordable compared to the cost of hiring a stump removal company. Here are the steps to follow, which are almost similar to those of nitrogen fertilizer.

  How To Rot a Tree Stump With Epsom Salt

When using Epsom salt, do this:

  1. Reduce the tree stump to the ground by cutting it with a chainsaw.
  2. Drill holes into the stump as they face downwards. Do that for both the top and the sides of the stump.
  3. Apply Epsom salt onto the tree stump and then add water to saturate it.
  4. Sprinkle a little of the soil on the base of the stump.
  5. The last step is to cover the stump with a plastic tarp to allow the salt to do its job.

#3. How To Rot a Tree Stump Fast Using a Plastic Bag

Plants need light to photosynthesize, which means that the plants would die without light. That is why using a plastic bag to remove the light from a tree stump will eventually lead to the stump’s death.

The method is one of the most natural ways how to rot a tree stump fast because you do not need any chemicals or tools. You only need a large plastic tarp and organic waste. You can use fallen leaves, hay, grass clippings, or wood chips. Look at this simplified process to help you kill a tree stump with a plastic bag.

  How To Kill a Tree Stump With a Plastic Bag

When rotting a tree stump with a plastic bag, follow these steps:

  1. Cut off the part of the tree stump protruding from the ground to make the work easier.
  2. Use a big black tarp to cover the stump and any exposed parts of the roots.
  3. Hold down the plastic bag with stones, bricks, or any other heavy objects that will keep the bag in place.
  4. Look for organic waste and place a 12-inch pile on the bag.
  5. It should take a few months for the stump to weaken and die, even when you see a few suckers growing from the exposed parts of the root system.

#4. Using Rock Salt

Rock salt also works the same way as Epsom salt. It can help fasten the decay process of a protruding tree stump on your property. It is also an easy-to-find product, making it an effortless way to kill a tree stump.

Close up image of white rock salt.

(Image: Marina Leonova10)

You can use rock salt or Epsom salt to eliminate tree stumps without spending too much money or effort. Follow the process below to DIY a tree stump removal within your property. While results may not be visible overnight, the process takes just a few months to kill the stump.

 How To Kill Tree Stump at Home With Rock Salt

When killing a tree stump with rock salt, follow these steps:

  1. Cut down the remaining part of the tree stump with a chainsaw for easier application and faster results.
  2. Drill holes into the tree stump at the top and sides as they face downwards. The holes can be about 3 inches deep and about 1 inch apart.
  3. Fill the holes with rock salt and cover the entire stump with the salt.
  4. Collect soil and pour it on top of the stump with the rock salt in it.
  5. Look for mulch and pour it on the stump too.
  6. Pour water into the organic waste on the stump to help dissolve the soil. It will also help the roots to absorb the salt and water solution and start the decay process.
  7. You need to keep watering the stump every few days to promote the growth of fungi and keep the stump roots absorbing the salty solution.

#5. Using Hot Water

Hot water is something that everyone has in their house. It is, therefore, the easiest way to kill a tree stump. The homemade trick will not cost you a dime and might not even use much of your energy.

Anyone can use hot water to remove a tree stump with just a few steps as you will find below.

  How To Use Hot Water: A Homemade Tree Stump Killer

  1. Try exposing the roots of the stump. You can do that by digging them out.
  2. Drill holes into the stump. The holes should be as deep as possible and as many as possible.
  3. Pour boiling water on the exposed roots. You should pour into the holes on the stump to kill the roots that are beneath it.
  4. Pouring hot water on the roots of a stump damages the roots and kills them,7 weakening them and leaving the stump to die and decompose.

How To Remove Tree Stump by Hand

Removing a tree stump by hand is not an easy task. However, it is one of the ways you can remove a tree stump fast. Letting a tree stump rot naturally could take many years while removing it by hand takes a few days when you have the right tools.

Below are some ways to remove a tree stump by hand without waiting for it to decompose.


Grinding is a fast way of removing a tree stump, but it is also quite dangerous. You need a stump removal machine and protective gear to be able to do it as a DIY project.

Most people prefer to hire a professional team to do the grinding as it can cause harm to you or the people around you.

A photo of an orange tree stump removal machine at work with sawdust around the tree stump.

(Image: Soundchecker11)

You can grind a tree stump in as little as 15 minutes, but some trees take up to 2 hours to grind. Hearing protection and safety glasses are some protective gear you must have to operate a stump grinding machine.


You can dig out a tree stump, but it is very time-consuming and exhausting. It is best for small stumps and requires basic hand tools to do it. You need a mattock to loosen the soil and cut down the roots, a digging iron, and a spade.

Close up image of a man's feet on a shovel digging the soil.

(Image: Riccardo Falconi12)

The spade will help clear the soil from the sides of the stump, while the digging iron helps expose the roots and loosen the soil. You can do it alone or ask for help from two other people who will handle the other hand tools. It should not take long with the right tools and a little help.


Burning the tree stump works for a tree that has dried out completely. It takes a lot of time and might not burn the roots because they are beneath the soil. You also need to talk to the fire department in your area to know whether you can burn the stumps. Burning trees also contributes to the average carbon footprint which is rising at an alarming rate.

It is also crucial to exercise caution when burning the stump to avoid causing fires to any neighboring properties. Remove anything flammable within a 20-foot radius and use a pressurized hose to control the flames from the fire.

The process takes a day or longer, depending on factors like the weather, type of wood, and size of the stump. You should not try to use flammable liquids because they are dangerous and might not work.6 The best solution is to build a fire on top of the stump and keep it burning by exposing the stump to give way to oxygen.

How To Remove Small Tree Stumps (How To Rot a Tree Stump Fast When It Is Small in Size)

Small stumps are the easiest to remove because they do not require much effort or product. You can use all the above methods to remove a small tree stump, but digging them up is the most convenient solution for small stumps.

It might be labor intensive, but it does not take as long as bigger ones. When using the homemade trick, just a small amount of the chemicals will begin the decomposition of the tree stump. Most people will DIY small tree stump removal because it is easy and manageable.

Free Tree Removal in Exchange for Wood

Some organizations, people, and institutions offer free tree removal in exchange for wood. However, there are conditions that you must fulfill to qualify for such services. In most cases, such services will be available for seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities.

You can also negotiate such an offer with tree removal companies when you have valuable trees you want to remove from your property. The value of the tree depends on the company you request for free services.

Each company has its preferences, and if you have a tree that interests them, you are lucky. They also like to do the free service when it involves cutting down many trees so that it can be worth their while.

Tree stump removal is necessary to keep your property safe and beautiful. While there are companies that do that job for you for a charge, you can also DIY it with the solutions discussed above. The best solution on how to rot a tree stump fast is using the homemade methods outlined in this guide.

Frequently Asked Questions About How To Rot a Tree Stump Fast

How Long Does It Take for Tree Stumps To Rot?

Tree stumps could take 10 years to rot naturally, depending on the size and type of the tree. However, you can use a homemade trick like Epsom salt to speed up the rotting process and remove a tree stump within a few months.

Is There a Fast Process on How To Remove a Tree Stump by Hand?

The fastest way to remove a tree stump by hand is by grinding it. It could take 15 minutes to 2 hours, which is quite fast compared to other stump removal methods.

Will Vinegar Kill Tree Roots?

Yes. You can use vinegar to kill and destroy tree roots. However, the vinegar must have a 10-20% concentration of acetic acid to be effective.2

Is There Free Tree Removal for Seniors?

Yes. Some organizations and institutions do free tree removal for seniors. They have qualifications that determine whether you qualify for the free service or not. They will definitely check your age and other factors, like whether the tree needs removal to avoid a deforestation crisis. You can do a Google search to learn about such services in your area.

How Long Does It Take for a Tree Stump To Rot With Epsom Salt?

Using Epsom salt is a homemade trick that takes about 6 to 12 months for a tree stump to decompose. If you compare that to natural decomposition, which takes nearly ten years, you will see that the homemade trick is better.

How Long Does It Take for an Oak Tree Stump To Rot?

An oak tree could take three to seven years to rot, depending on the environment, climate, and location of the tree. However, the above homemade tricks could fasten the decay process to only a few months.

How Long Does It Take for Palm Tree Stump To Rot?

Palm trees have deep roots,4 making them hard to decompose fast. A palm tree stump could take up to seven years to decompose, especially when it is a fully grown palm tree. Use chemicals like Epsom salt or nitrogen fertilizer to speed up the process.

Can I Successfully Kill Tree Stump With Epsom Salt?

Yes. Epsom salt is an effective homemade trick to kill tree stumps with minimal effort and time. You can kill a tree that would take 8 years to decompose naturally within 8 months of using the salt.

What Makes Wood Rot?

Wood rot is caused by fungi that grow in damp wood. The wood-eating fungi thrive in damp wood that does not get time to dry out. You can create such conditions to allow fungi to eat up a stump you do not need on your property.

Does a Copper Nail Kill a Tree?

A copper nail can only kill very small trees and plants. It takes about five months to kill small trees, but it could take many years even to try to kill a huge tree.


1Allman, M. (n.d.). Can You Spray Vinegar Around Trees? Garden Guides. Retrieved September 7, 2022, from <>

2Atkinson, W. (n.d.). Epsoak Pure Epsom Salt 19 lbs. Epsoak. Retrieved September 7, 2022, from <>

3Chalker-Scott, Ph.D, L. (2022). Epsom Salts. Miracle, Myth…or Marketing. Retrieved September 29, 2022, from <>

4Eiserhardt, W. L., Svenning, J.-C., Kissling, W. D., & Balslev, H. (2011, June 28). Geographical Ecology of the Palms (Arecaceae): Determinants of Diversity and Distributions Across Spatial Scales. PubMed Central. Retrieved 2022, from <>

5Ingham, E. R. (2022). The Living Soil: Fungi. Soil Fungi. Retrieved September 29, 2022, from <>

6Princeton University Environmental Health Safety. (2022). Flammable and Combustible Liquid Hazard Classifications. Flammable Materials. Retrieved September 29, 2022, from <>

7Steil, A. (2022). Can I Manage Weeds With Boiling Water? FAQ. Retrieved September 29, 2022, from <>

8Chris F. Pexels. Retrieved from <>

9George Martin. Unsplash. Retrieved from <>

10Marina Leonova. Pexels. Retrieved from <>

11Soundchecker. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved from <>

12Riccardo Falconi. Pexels. Retrieved from <>