Tree stumps are all that remain aboveground after a tree is cut down and removed. Stumps and the roots they connect to will shrink a bit over time, but will not degrade without help. Stump removal can be done for any number of reasons.
Tree stumps can be a hazard to anyone walking across the yard. Low stumps can easily be tripped on. They can also catch a mower and can make edging a lawn difficult. It isn’t always easy to remove a stump, but doing so makes the yard a safer and less hazardous place.
If the stump remaining is from a living tree, it may sometimes grow shoots. This means that the root system will stay active, drawing nutrients away from the grass and competing with other trees. In this case, the stump should be removed to kill the root system.
A rotting stump is also the ideal home for pests that like to nest in decaying wood. Wood borers, termites, ants and beetles all make their home in tree stumps. From there, they can breed and infest other trees and even the wood inside a house.
Removing a tree stump also expands yard space. Even a small stump can be in the way of a garden or outdoor dining area.
How to remove a stump
Small tree stumps can be relatively simple to remove with the right equipment. A smaller tree stump should be encircled by digging into the ground around it to locate the roots. Once these are severed, the stump can be cut into and pulled out of the ground. Even a small stump will be heavy though, so it may need to be levered out of the ground or cut into smaller pieces with a chainsaw or ax.
Larger or unwieldy stumps should be removed by a professional stump grinder. A stump grinder brings the right equipment to remove a large stump. Once the stump is ground down into chips, those chips can be mixed with soil to compost over the hole. Otherwise they can be removed and the hole can be filled with a mixture of soil and loam. Wood chips take nitrogen as they decompose, which doesn’t allow for grass to grow. If composing the chips, cover the wood pile with dirt to encourage faster decomposition. There are chemicals that can be added to a stump to degrade it from the inside out. These take several months to work, however, and the chemicals can be toxic to a yard.
Replanting after the stump is removed
It is best to wait at least a year for the old roots to shrink before planting a new tree where the stump used to be. If a large shade tree was removed, the type of grass under it may need to be replaced since now the area is exposed to more sunlight.
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