Advantages and Disadvantages of Stump Removal Methods

Author: Touré Foster

Posted in: Landscape Construction

Stump Removal, New England Enterprises, Marlborough, MA

After you cut down a tree on your property, you are often left with an unsightly stump to deal with. Stumps can be eyesores, take up valuable and usable space, and can even be hazardous. After removing a tree, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to leave the stump behind. However, stump removal is not often included with tree removal. Compared to tree removal, stump removal is much more involved.

When deciding the best way to remove a stump, you’ll first want to consider the type, number and size of the stumps. That information will determine the method you choose. You’ll get the job done faster and more efficiently when you use the right techniques and methods. There are a handful of viable options to consider, which we’ll cover in the next section.

First: Assess the Stump

Take a good look at what you’ve got. The type, number, and size of stumps in your yard will largely determine how you go about removing them.


Some tree types have stumps that are easier to remove than others. Therefore, there are different techniques for removal. Pine tree stumps tend to be easier to remove because their roots tend to be wide, flat, and relatively shallow. On the other hand, oak and other deciduous trees are more difficult to remove because their roots tend to be long and deep. Also, age is a factor. The older the stump, the easier it will be to remove.


If you have many stumps to remove, it is not realistic to try and hand-dig them up yourself. Conversely, if you only have one or a few stumps to remove, renting a backhoe or skid steer is not very practical and would be costly for a small job.


Obviously, the smaller the stump, the easier it will be to remove. But even one large stump can be too difficult to remove on your own or without machinery. So the size of the stump will play a big role in what removal method to use.

When assessing your stumps, another factor that is in play is time.

  • What is your timetable for removing these stumps?
  • Are you planning on doing some spring gardening or hosting a summer event?
  • Do you plan to sell the property in the near future?

Not only will you need time to remove the stumps, but also to repair the damage. You may need to reseed the lawn or replanting the area with a garden or a new tree.

Nobody wants an unsightly stump taking up valuable space and causing a hazard in their yard. It is very important to know the different stump removal options out there to help you determine the best method to use for your yard.

Stump removal methods


Simply covering the stump with soil will eventually lead to the stump’s decay. Once it has rotted enough it can usually be removed with an ax and/or shovel.

  • Advantages: This method is natural, cheap, and requires no heavy machinery.
  • Disadvantages: Depending on the size of the stump this process could take many months or years.

Tip: If the stump is small and in the middle of your lawn, purchase a raised flower bed. Use this to cover the stump with an attractive flower garden.


There are several chemicals available that will accelerate the rotting of a tree stump. This basically involves drilling a series of holes in the stump and adding the chemicals. Once the stump is rotted through (generally 4-6 weeks) you can then use an ax or shovel to remove it.

  • Advantages: Requires little manual labor, relatively cheap and requires no heavy machinery.
  • Disadvantages: This method is not environmentally friendly. This method does speed up decomposition time compared to the natural way. However, the stump will still take a prolonged period of time to break down.


Digging out stumps by hand works best on small or old, shallow-rooted stumps. Essential tools are a shovel, an ax or grub hoe with ax head, loppers and a root saw. The trick is to dig and expose the roots, cut them with the appropriate tool, pulls the roots out of the ground with the grub hoe and once completely uprooted, the stump should come out with some sweat and a lot of elbow grease.

  • Advantages: Can be removed relatively quickly, cheaply, and with no heavy machinery.
  • Disadvantages: Requires intense manual labor. If you have larger, newer, or many stumps in your yard, this is not the best method to remove them. It will take too long and would be back-breaking.


Scrap wood can be used to start a fire on top of a stump, let it burn for a time, chisel away the charcoal part of the stump, and repeat until the stump is gone. This method works well is you have few stumps to remove and have scrap wood you want to get rid of. Remember to check with local officials to see if you’re allowed to burn in your area.

  • Advantages: This method of stump removal is very cheap, does not require heavy machinery, and requires only some manual labor.
  • Disadvantages: Stumps deeply set into the ground may not be fully exposed to the fire. Sometimes you will also need a chemical additive to eliminate the entire stump. This method also may take a longer time and require multiple fires to fully remove the stump.

Backhoe/Skid steer

Backhoes and skid steers are heavy machinery that can be used to remove large or many stumps from a yard. Usually, the stump is dug up using one of these machines, and then buried on site which eliminates the cost of hauling them off and disposing of them. Skid steers are usually available for rent, but you need a professional to operate a backhoe.

  • Advantages: One of the quickest methods of stump removal, it does not require manual labor, and can be a viable option if you need to remove larger or many stumps.
  • Disadvantages: This is typically the costliest method for stump removal and requires a place on site to bury them, unless you pay to have them hauled off. Also, heavy machinery can tear up a yard so this is not a good option for landscaped yards.

Stump Grinder

This is a machine that chews up stumps up to a foot below ground level. You can usually rent stump grinders or you can have a professional come and do it for you.

  • Advantages: This is one of the quickest methods and if you have many stumps to get rid of, a stump grinder is the most economical way to go. It also works on any size stump.
  • Disadvantages: Can be costly if you only have a few stumps to remove and will require proper safety equipment if operating yourself.

Nobody wants an unsightly stump taking up valuable space and causing a hazard in their yard. Knowing the different stump removal methods out there and determining the best option to use for your yard is very important. If you’ve decided that the job is too big and that you need help from the professionals, contact New England Enterprises. We have the expertise, equipment and manpower to fully remove and dispose of any stumps in your yard.