Cutting down that dead tree is only the first step in restoring your landscape. It always leaves a stump behind that must be dealt with in some way. The options include:

  1. Do Nothing - Of course, you can leave the stump and use it as a stand for containers or statuary. Or, you can just leave it there as a part of "nature" as it slowly rots away.

  2. Dig It Out - Depending on the size of the tree, you might just be able to dig it out with a shovel. Of course this is only practical with fairly small trees and shrubs but it can be quite effective, if back breaking but free.

  3. Grind It Out - Tree removal companies usually have a tough little machine called a stump grinder. These powerful machines can turn the stump into sawdust in no time. This is the quickest and surest way to remove the stump but it also the most expensive.

  4. Kill It - Certain species of trees such as catalpa, boxelder, poplars and willows may send up new shoots from the old stump. They may also send new shoots out of the ground from the root system. The easiest but most labor intensive control is to just keep cutting the new growth down to the ground as soon as it shows up. Plants produce their own food through photosynthesis in the leaves. If you deny a plant leaves for long enough, it must die.

    In rare instances, you could use brush control herbicides to kill the stump. These need to be painted onto the freshly cut stump or new shoots. Follow label instructions for these products. They tend to be powerful chemicals.

  5. Digest the Stump - Nature will eventually rot the stump away into its component elements just like anything else. However, due to the volume of woody material, this process will take many, many years. There are commercial products advertized to hurry this process. For the most part, they are ineffective and not worth the effort and cost.

  6. Pull the Stump - Tractors and other heavy duty vehicles are sometimes used to pull stumps from the ground. This can be extremely dangerous if you do not know what you are doing. If the tractor is not big enough or powerful enough, it might tip over backward and injure or kill the driver. Four wheel drive vehicles may be damaged if used incorrectly. Chains can break and fly away at killer speeds. Get the hint? Be Careful!!

Note: We have provided some general information and observations on this topic aimed at the home gardener. Before you take any serious action in your landscape, check with your state's land grant university's Cooperative Extension Service for the most current, appropriate, localized recommendations.

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