How to Remove a Tree Stump
By Brenda H. Murphy
Just hook a rope to it, tie it to your bumper, and off you go...right? Wrong! Depending on the size of the job and how well the stump has been loosened, you could wreck an axle, cut up your lawn or pull off a bumper. Unless you're talking a sequoia, stump removal is usually a pretty simple process.
First, consider the size of what you want removed. It is a bush, small tree, or large tree? In most cases, you can handle everything but a truly large tree, with just a spade, a lawn bar, and some elbow grease. However, large stumps, because of their weight, size and root spread, may require rental of a tree grinder to finish the job.
With a woody bush that has thick stems, you want to cut it to a manageable size before starting any digging. Two feet is a good height, leaving enough for gripping if you're going to "rock" the stump. Small and medium size trees will benefit from having a taller trunk, up to 4' high. This is because that height will give you leverage to push against.
Start by digging around the stump. It's not necessary to dig right up against the stump, because the roots will be denser there. Begin a few inches from the trunk, and be sure to dig away from it, throwing your dirt out of the hole. Dig your trench around the stump in a circle. As you begin to bare roots, you'll want to use the lawn bar.
This is a long, steel tool that looks something like an over-sized chisel. For stump removal, it's best to try and sharpen the flat bladed end, so that you have extra cutting power for roots. And because you will be thrusting it down into the soil with some weight behind it, safety precautions should include wearing steel-toed boots.
As you start to uncover roots, take the bar and jam it down into the trench, breaking and cutting the roots. Continue to dig down, and away from the trunk, cutting roots as you go, and thrusting the bar towards the center of the trunk, underneath the dirt. Eventually, you will have cut enough roots, and have removed enough dirt, that some rocking and leverage against the trunk, will tip it over and you can haul it from the ground.
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