Stumped by a Stump

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Stumped by a Stump

Postby Valdeselad » Fri Jul 26, 2013 11:17 am

I need some advice removing a pesky stump that remains from cutting a tree down.

I should clarify a bit. I live in Texas and this was really just a weed that turned into a (rather large) tree. Some friends of mine helped to cut the tree down and haul it away, but the stump remains. At the suggestion of a relative, I purchased some Stump Out from Lowes (white powder) and poured in a series of deep and wide holes I had drilled out of the stump. That was 6 weeks ago. Today, the stump seems to be quite hearty, with no real sign of degradation.

So, I am calling on the experienced Bogleheads for help. Home Depot sells a liquid stump remover (Spectracide) that I was considering trying. Your stories of success and frustration are welcome!
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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby wageoghe » Fri Jul 26, 2013 11:23 am

Here is a link that describes how to hasten the rotting process of the stump:

http://landscaping.about.com/cs/lazylan ... emoval.htm

Note that I have not tried this.
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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby tyrion » Fri Jul 26, 2013 11:40 am

I usually cut it as low to the ground as possible and cover it with landscape fabric and mulch. Then check back in a few years and chop out what remains.
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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby curmudgeon » Fri Jul 26, 2013 11:41 am

If you want a stump removed quickly, the process is called stump grinding. You call a stump grinding service, and the guy comes out with what looks like a giant saw mounted on wheels, and grinds away the stump in the same way you would used a chainsaw. It doesn't take long, though it's not especially cheap, as those grinder machines are expensive and take a fair bit of maintenance. You end up with a pile of wood chips.

The process of letting the stump rot (with or without chemical assistance) generally takes years, depending on climate and type of tree. The third option, of chopping, digging, and prying, might save you the cost of a gym membership, but cost you some trips to the chiropracter :happy
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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby Riverstwo » Fri Jul 26, 2013 11:49 am

If you are not too close to your neighbors, we just pour diesel fuel on it and set it on fire.
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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby guitarguy » Fri Jul 26, 2013 11:54 am

I've dealt with a ton of these on my lot. Your best options for quick removal are:

1. Dig it out
2. Attach a come-along to a nearby fence post or something and pull it out
3. Attach to a truck/hitch and rip it out
4. Call a stump grinding / tree service to remove it

How big is the stump?
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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby izreel » Fri Jul 26, 2013 12:04 pm

You've got to call a stump grinder. I had a few done last year. I believe I paid around $75 per stump.
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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby FrugalInvestor » Fri Jul 26, 2013 12:05 pm

guitarguy wrote:I've dealt with a ton of these on my lot. Your best options for quick removal are:

1. Dig it out
2. Attach a come-along to a nearby fence post or something and pull it out
3. Attach to a truck/hitch and rip it out
4. Call a stump grinding / tree service to remove it

How big is the stump?


I typically use a combination of digging and a come along. It works best if you can alternate pulling in opposite directions. If it's a larger stump pick something much more stout than a fence post, like the base of a large tree.

However, if you've already cut it down to the ground you've likely eliminated options 2 and 3 since you no longer have a place to attach a chain and have also eliminated your good friend - leverage. In that case, I'd call for a stump grinder if you want it gone right away.
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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby TRC » Fri Jul 26, 2013 12:10 pm

Hire someone to come in and grind it down with a Stump Grinder: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4jqehT6CXY
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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby OAG » Fri Jul 26, 2013 12:18 pm

In my experiences with stump removal (thankfully retired from that chore now too) what I found works best and as mentioned cheapest and quickest is the manual method. As mentioned they generally will not come out until the TAP root is severed so that should be the goal. Starting to dig too close to the stump will make the job harder overall as the minor roots will be harder to cut. I usually used a full sized axe a pointed shovel and as big a branch cutter that I had or could borrow. Dig almost straight down until you can go under to the tap root usually dead center of the stump. By the way if you plan ahead to use the manual method leaving about four feet of tree above the ground will give you a lot of leverage to move the stump when it gets loose or to pull the stump out using a chain and a truck after it gets loose. Fun work.

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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby guitarguy » Fri Jul 26, 2013 12:21 pm

FrugalInvestor wrote:However, if you've already cut it down to the ground you've likely eliminated options 2 and 3 since you no longer have a place to attach a chain and have also eliminated your good friend - leverage. In that case, I'd call for a stump grinder if you want it gone right away.


If you still have a few inches above ground you can dig down below grade 6-8" and then loop a good sturdy rope or nylon strap around the bottom.
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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby Default User BR » Fri Jul 26, 2013 12:40 pm

If you're reasonably comfortable with power equipment, small stump grinders can be rented. I'm assuming the stump is relatively small as it was an overgrown weed and you handled the cutting down on your without a professional.


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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby Valdeselad » Fri Jul 26, 2013 1:13 pm

Default User BR wrote:If you're reasonably comfortable with power equipment, small stump grinders can be rented. I'm assuming the stump is relatively small as it was an overgrown weed and you handled the cutting down on your without a professional.


Brian


You're correct, the stump is not that big since it started as a weed. However, it grew impressively and the remaining stump is not insignificant. There are also numerous runner roots that go in every direction and are substantial in their own right. I constantly kick myself for not pulling that weed up when I had the chance.

In addition to the chemical treatment I applied 6 weeks ago, I have been slowly taking parts of the runners with a reciprocating saw, with the goal that I will eventually get this thing out of the ground, little by little. However, the density of the wood pulp is surprising and I feel like I am making very little progress.
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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby johnubc » Fri Jul 26, 2013 1:42 pm

For a stump small as this one seems - I would rent a stump grinder from Home Depot or other rental place - I would think you could take care of it quickly. 6 weeks after a stump out treatment is really not a long time.
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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby YttriumNitrate » Fri Jul 26, 2013 1:43 pm

Unless you're grinding/pulling it out, stump removal can be a slow process. After cutting the tree, drill holes into the stump and then wait a few months for it to dry out a bit. Next, pour stump remover into those holes and wait 3-6 months. Finally, soak the stump in kerosene and burn it out. Even the burning process is slow. I had a 4 foot diameter ash tree stump smolder and burn for a whole week, so make a good fire ring around the stump.
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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby dratkinson » Fri Jul 26, 2013 1:45 pm

You can rent small stump grinders. Should make a quick job of it.

Check Home Depot, Lowe's, local tool rental stores.

See if your neighbors could also use it. Split the cost.



(added) Replacing and cleaning up a fence line.

Starting condition: falling down split-cedar privacy fence and a jungle of plants growing into overhead lines.

Ending condition: contracted neighbor-friendly, maintenance-free vinyl privacy fence and clean grass lawn. (We split the cost. I did the un-contracted work.)

Most of the jungle was shredded to become compost, the larger woody pieces became firewood, the old fence was cut up for firewood, the large fence post were marked "free" and placed by the curb.

Used a come-along (horizontal pull) and chain to remove several small trees and wide low-growing junipers with shallow roots from along fence line. Dug trench around each stump to attach chain as low as possible. Attached come-along to large tree. Was amazed by how tenacious were the junipers' numerous shallow roots. Bent the come along frame (handle attachment point) before it was all done. Eventually discovered it helped to fill the hole around each plant with water (after hooking up to avoid getting wet feet) to help the roots release.

A high-lift jack (vertical pull) and water hose jet nozzle (to loosen ground's hold around post) works well on large, deep fence posts. Never tried this idea on larger stumps with deep irregular roots. But knowing the difficulty of removing wide shallow junipers and after seeing stump grinders in actions, believe that to be the easiest way to go for quick stump removal.
Last edited by dratkinson on Mon Jul 29, 2013 8:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby Valdeselad » Fri Jul 26, 2013 1:50 pm

YttriumNitrate wrote:Unless you're grinding/pulling it out, stump removal can be a slow process. After cutting the tree, drill holes into the stump and then wait a few months for it to dry out a bit. Next, pour stump remover into those holes and wait 3-6 months. Finally, soak the stump in kerosene and burn it out. Even the burning process is slow. I had a 4 foot diameter ash tree stump smolder and burn for a whole week, so make a good fire ring around the stump.


I am hesitant to add fuel and burn it out due to the close proximity of neighbor homes.
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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby pennstater2005 » Fri Jul 26, 2013 1:54 pm

Just pay the money and have someone grind it out. I had a neighbor once who messed around with a stump for years and never got it completely out.
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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby Steady59 » Fri Jul 26, 2013 2:14 pm

Dig down a bit to expose the roots. Put a nice piece of stretchy rope around the stump. Attach the other end to the bumper of a car with a good bit of slack in between. Get a good running head start with the car and jerk that bad boy right out. Might take a coupe of tries. When it comes out, just keep going so the stump doesn't hit the car.

I'm kidding of course. Please don't do this or if you do, please get a video and share it with us.

Pay the $ and get it ground out. Should take 30 minutes.
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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby Easy Rhino » Fri Jul 26, 2013 3:19 pm

I haven't removed a stump personally, but as someone who will probably end up blowing off one of my appendages, I'd try a method that involved black powder. :oops:
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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby Epsilon Delta » Fri Jul 26, 2013 3:32 pm

Valdeselad wrote:I am hesitant to add fuel and burn it out due to the close proximity of neighbor homes.

Well, I guess that rules out ANFO. :)

You did not mention the species of tree, but one of the benefits of some of the chemicals is that they kill all the roots and stop them from sprouting suckers. Some of the nastier trees can send up sprouts even after you grind the stump.
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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby Valdeselad » Fri Jul 26, 2013 3:39 pm

guitarguy wrote:How big is the stump?


Not exactly certain, but I'm going to say about a foot in diameter, give or take a bit.
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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby snyder66 » Fri Jul 26, 2013 4:09 pm

A foot? You should be able to dig that out. Buy a $20 pick axe and dig around in a circle.
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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby Tycoon » Fri Jul 26, 2013 6:35 pm

Recruit a few hungry termites. :D
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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby scubadiver » Fri Jul 26, 2013 8:08 pm

I've dug out by hand stumps that were as much as 6-8 inches in diameter. Any bigger than that and I would either get a stump grinder or pay someone to do it for me. From the sounds of it though, this could be tackled by hand.
Last edited by scubadiver on Fri Jul 26, 2013 8:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby CaliJim » Fri Jul 26, 2013 8:11 pm

Removing a stump by hand is good exercise. This is what Saturdays are for. Plus your spouse will admire how strong you are becoming.
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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby magellan » Fri Jul 26, 2013 10:21 pm

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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby kksmom » Fri Jul 26, 2013 10:49 pm

Have removed with farm jack.
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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby birdy » Fri Jul 26, 2013 11:40 pm

I too live in Texas! Just recently I read how to get rid of a stump. Drill holes down into stump and fill holes with pure epson salt. Water it in and the stump is supposed to rot away. Anyone else heard of doing this?

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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby rickmerrill » Sat Jul 27, 2013 12:40 am

Never had any luck with chemicals or burning. For anything over 18" I'd call a stump grinder and make sure he goes to the depth you want. You'll get some good mulch BTW. For anything smaller I use a good ax (on the roots) and a shovel. Then I use a chain to a pickup. Not as hard to do as you'd think. I lived in a city where the rule was if you got it to the street they had to remove it. An old retired guy, probably with more time than money, had a 3' stump by the street. It took him weeks to dig it out but when finished, the city rented a 10 ton crane to put it into a dump truck. Problem solved!

I get great kudos from my neighbors every time I've dug out a stump. The trick is to have a good ax, reasonable health, and a fire in the belly! If your lacking in any of three just call a stump grinder and be done with it.
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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby Mudpuppy » Sat Jul 27, 2013 2:20 am

6 weeks really isn't enough time to let the chemical do its thing, particularly if the stump was still "wet" when it was applied. And did you also apply a woody stump killer to the stump and all of its runners? The Stump Out brand does not contain a stump killer chemical. It's meant to be used on dead, dry stumps. If you haven't applied stump killer, you'll be playing "whack a mole" with the root system for years as new runners pop up from the still living root system.
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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby pjstack » Sat Jul 27, 2013 4:12 pm

Put a flower pot on it and enjoy!
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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby frugaltype » Sat Jul 27, 2013 4:40 pm

pennstater2005 wrote:Just pay the money and have someone grind it out. I had a neighbor once who messed around with a stump for years and never got it completely out.


+1 This is twenty minutes work for a stump grinding company.
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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby frugaltype » Sat Jul 27, 2013 4:40 pm

pjstack wrote:Put a flower pot on it and enjoy!


Those are so ugly :-)
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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby Ged » Sat Jul 27, 2013 4:48 pm

birdy wrote:I too live in Texas! Just recently I read how to get rid of a stump. Drill holes down into stump and fill holes with pure epson salt. Water it in and the stump is supposed to rot away. Anyone else heard of doing this?

birdy


Epson salts are not useful in stump removal. However they will kill the stump and prevent it from sprouting new growth.

The problem with chemicals is that over the last billion or so years trees have evolved a pretty robust chemical structure on their own that is resistant to rot, fungus, insects etc. It's why they can live a thousand years or more. It's why paper documents can last thousands of years in storage. Anything that's likely to quickly degrade a stump is also likely to leave a nasty residue that will be a detriment to the general area for a good long while.

I'd really go with the suggestions here for mechanical approaches - by hand or machine depending on your ambition.
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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby Woodshark » Sat Jul 27, 2013 4:55 pm

Here is a very inexpensive and easy way to remove it.
I've had to remove about a dozen stumps in the past few years. Most were only 12-16 inches across. This is what I did. Get a small roll of 12" sheet metal. You can find it at Lowes or Home Depot, usually in the HVAC or roofing section. Also pick up a medium size bag of easy light charcoal and a few sheet metal screws. Make a circle out of the sheet metal that will circle the stump with about 2 inches to spare all around. Dump in the bag of charcoal. It should, at least, completely cover the stump. Clear an area around the stump ( to prevent stray sparks from catching mulch on fire etc.) then light the charcoal. Now comes the hard part.....do nothing for 24 to 36 hours. When it quits smoking after about a day and a half the stump will be gone. Hose down the area and your done.

If I catch charcoal on sale, I figure it cost me about $10 a stump with no digging, chaining, pulling or sweat on my part.
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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby CaliJim » Sat Jul 27, 2013 6:56 pm

Woodshark wrote:Here is a very inexpensive and easy way to remove it..... light the charcoal.....do nothing for 24 to 36 hours.


Cheater. Using your brain instead of your brawn. :D
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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby pjstack » Sat Jul 27, 2013 11:07 pm

frugaltype wrote:
pjstack wrote:Put a flower pot on it and enjoy!


Those are so ugly :-)

Well, I meant to put a flower in the flower pot!
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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby magician » Sun Jul 28, 2013 12:03 am

Simplify the complicated side; don't complify the simplicated side.
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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby Default User BR » Sun Jul 28, 2013 9:38 am

I would caution against any fire-related methods unless you're out in the country. In more urbanized areas it's likely illegal to burn yard waste and might get a visit from the fire department and police.


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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby Mudpuppy » Sun Jul 28, 2013 1:36 pm

Default User BR wrote:I would caution against any fire-related methods unless you're out in the country. In more urbanized areas it's likely illegal to burn yard waste and might get a visit from the fire department and police.

It's also not advised if you're in the country, but currently in a high fire danger zone. We had a pretty large "wildfire" in a rural community around a couple years back that was started by someone not being wise with fire on his property. I'm sure all his neighbors whose homes were destroyed wished he'd exercised a little more caution.
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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby Glenn » Mon Jul 29, 2013 1:11 pm

I've removed several 1-2' diameter stumps, attempting every technique possible.

>Burning. Forget it. Takes forever.
>Stump-rotting chemicals: Never worked for me.
>Ax, shovel, and winch or high-lift jack. Works, but a LOT of work. Take care what you attach your come-along to; you could easily pull over a fence post. The base of another large tree would be best. If it's a fairly small stump, this is my preferred method. (Don't try to jerk it out by tying a line to a car bumper. That's a good way to tear the bumper off.)
>Professional stump-grinder. Not cheap, but does the job quickly, cleanly, and without (my) sweat.
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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby Valdeselad » Mon Jul 29, 2013 3:48 pm

Glenn wrote:I've removed several 1-2' diameter stumps, attempting every technique possible.

>Burning. Forget it. Takes forever.
>Stump-rotting chemicals: Never worked for me.
>Ax, shovel, and winch or high-lift jack. Works, but a LOT of work. Take care what you attach your come-along to; you could easily pull over a fence post. The base of another large tree would be best. If it's a fairly small stump, this is my preferred method. (Don't try to jerk it out by tying a line to a car bumper. That's a good way to tear the bumper off.)
>Professional stump-grinder. Not cheap, but does the job quickly, cleanly, and without (my) sweat.


Thanks Glenn,

I am leaning towards going the professional route. It is amazing how difficult it is to remove a relatively small stump. I can appreciate some of the previous comments that infer it shouldn't be too difficult, but I can assure you it is.
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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby likegarden » Mon Jul 29, 2013 4:56 pm

Recently I let stumps rot, a 2 ft dia maple stump took about 4 years to get it just below soil level, helped with an axe.
I also had stumps ground down to 8 inches below the surface, did cost only $50 each, was instant gratification, did not hold up any landscaping projects.
40 years ago I used to dig a 1 to 2 ft wide trench around the stump, down to the tap root. After cutting the tap root, the stump slit into the hole and could be buried right there. That took a little time, but it worked well. Good luck, and do not get hurt!
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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby gd » Mon Jul 29, 2013 8:18 pm

Make a birdbath out of it, or some similar useful object. The nicer it is, the faster it'll rot away once you don't want it to.
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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby Glenn » Tue Jul 30, 2013 8:29 am

Get a small roll of 12" sheet metal. You can find it at Lowes or Home Depot, usually in the HVAC or roofing section. Also pick up a medium size bag of easy light charcoal and a few sheet metal screws. Make a circle out of the sheet metal that will circle the stump with about 2 inches to spare all around. Dump in the bag of charcoal. It should, at least, completely cover the stump. Clear an area around the stump ( to prevent stray sparks from catching mulch on fire etc.) then light the charcoal. Now comes the hard part.....do nothing for 24 to 36 hours. When it quits smoking after about a day and a half the stump will be gone. Hose down the area and your done.


Man, I wish I'd thought of that. This sounds like a winner.
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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby ddunca1944 » Wed Jul 31, 2013 9:00 am

I'm going to take a different view. Do you really want it gone?

At our last home, we had two very large stumps (30" diameter). I asked DH to hollow them out a bit - he used an axe to make a basin about 12" deep. I filled it with potting soil and planted annuals. I also planted flowers and bulbs around the stump. Within a short time, I had a very attractive flower bed. The stumps gave it height and the lobelia spilled out over it.
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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby stratton » Wed Jul 31, 2013 9:07 am

The Acme Catalog should have something.

Image

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...and then Buffy staked Edward. The end.
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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby Aptenodytes » Wed Jul 31, 2013 9:22 am

I have had to do this several times, and I always opt for the "organic" route. Wait long enough for the stump to rot and then dig it out with minimal effort. You might be waiting five years or so. If that doesn't appeal to you, I second the opinion of hiring someone to grind it out.

My own maximum for digging out the stump manually immediately, without waiting for rot to set in, is about 7 inches diameter. I wouldn't venture to attempt one a foot across, at least based on the kinds of trees and root systems I experience in the northeast.
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Re: Stumped by a Stump

Postby frugaltype » Wed Jul 31, 2013 9:22 am

ddunca1944 wrote:I'm going to take a different view. Do you really want it gone?

At our last home, we had two very large stumps (30" diameter). I asked DH to hollow them out a bit - he used an axe to make a basin about 12" deep. I filled it with potting soil and planted annuals. I also planted flowers and bulbs around the stump. Within a short time, I had a very attractive flower bed. The stumps gave it height and the lobelia spilled out over it.


Okay. Apparently it's just me. But every time I drive past a yard with a stump that people have tried to do something with, I say to myself, if only they knew about stump grinding companies.
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