My Tree Stump Is Growing Back: How To Kill A Zombie Tree Stump

After cutting down a tree, you might find that the tree stump keeps sprouting each spring. The only way to stop the sprouts is to kill the stump. Read on to find out how to kill a zombie tree stump.

My Tree Stump is Growing Back

You have two options when it comes to getting rid of tree stumps and roots: grinding or chemically killing the stump. Grinding usually kills the stump on the first try if it’s done properly. Killing the stump chemically may take several tries.

Stump Grinding

Stump grinding is the way to go if you’re strong and enjoy running heavy equipment. Stump grinders are available at rental houses. Make sure you understand the instructions and have appropriate safety equipment before you start. Grind the stump 6 to 12 inches (15-30 cm.) below ground to make sure it’s dead.

Tree services can perform this chore for you too, and if you only have one or two stumps to grind, you may find that the cost isn’t much more than the rental fees for a grinder.

Chemical Control

Another way to stop tree stump sprouting is to kill the stump with chemicals. This method doesn’t kill the stump as fast as grinding, and it may take more than one application, but it is easier for do-it-yourselfers that don’t feel up to the task of grinding stumps.

Begin by drilling several holes in the cut surface of the trunk. Deeper holes are more effective. Next, fill the holes with stump killer. There are several products on the market made expressly for this purpose. In addition, you can use broadleaf weed killers in the holes. Read the labels and understand the risks and precautions before choosing a product.

Anytime you use chemical herbicides in the garden you should wear goggles, gloves and long sleeves. Read the entire label before you begin. Store any remaining product in the original container, and keep it out of the reach of children. If you don’t think you’ll use the product again, dispose of it safely.

Note: Chemical control should only be used as a last resort, as organic approaches are more environmentally friendly.

Stop it from growing back – How to kill a tree stump

How many times have you found yourself in a situation that old, darkened tree stump had started to turn green again, and start growing? Although nature is resilient and fights for every opportunity to grow, sometimes, it is a bit pain in the neck. To prevent this, there are several things you can do, all of which I have listed here. As with all kinds of work of this type, be aware of potential danger, and always bear in mind yours and safety of others.

In short, what you can do?

There are several approaches which you can undertake to kill a tree stump. Some of them are mechanical, while others include chemicals and herbicides. Eventually, if you decide to remove it completely, there is that option as well. What is common for all of those approaches is that you should always carry safety goggles and gloves.

Epsom and rock salt

First and easiest way to kill a stump is to obtain a driller and some Epsom or rock salt. Kitchen salt should be avoided, because of its adverse effects on a surrounding vegetation. You should start by drilling several holes in the stump, which should be about 1in wide and at least 8in deep.

The deeper the hole, however, the better. Next, you should apply Epsom into the holes, filling them up completely. For high precision work, you can use a spoon. After being filled, holes should be sealed with wax. To do so, you can use an ordinary candle which can be found in every house. To speed up the process, you should cover it with a tarp or a non-transparent trash bag, to deny it the basic needs, such as water and sunlight.

This approach requires up to several months to kill a stump. Although it might seem like a long period, its main advantage is that it is easy, and it doesn’t require any particular set of skills, besides using a driller.

Cover it up

Similar to the previous approach, this one requires only tarp and a lot of time. Only cover the stump, and leave it for several months. It is a long wait, but if you manage to deny it the most basic needs, it will die out for sure. Also, the bigger the area you can cover, the better.

I would recommend this approach in summer when the drought is possible, so you do not need to worry about stump getting water during the process. It will require from three to six months of this treatment for the stump to die out completely, so it is advised to check it out from time to time.

Also, this is a great approach if you wish to leave the stump as a decorative element afterward. It will be intact and beautiful to look at. It is entirely safe for surrounding area, so you will not need to worry about other plants in your garden, or the potential mess left afterward.

Kill it with fire

Similar approach as the method one, this one will also require drilling a set of holes. In this case, you will pour kerosene in holes, and wait for a while for the stump to absorb it. Next is to ignite the kerosene, and it will do the rest of the work. This method is very time-friendly because you can finish the job within a day, but it is also the most dangerous one.

Always have an extinguisher close at hand prepared, and never leave the fire unattended, not for a minute, because it can spread, jeopardizing property and people’s lives. Bear in mind that fire can damage the grass around the stump, so be prepared for some redecorating afterward.

Less aggressive method would be to prepare a layer of coal and scrap wood at the top of the stump, and start the fire. You should pay attention to see if the stump have caught fire, and to add more fuel if the fire starts to die out. Both of those ways are working only if the stump is dry and can burn. Recently cut stump will deny cooperation, which will result in slightly charred, but still alive stump.

Bring out the big guns

If you enjoy working with heavy equipment, this approach is perfect for you. Chainsaw and a stump grinder will be required, and if you have any doubts about using either of those, there is no shame in calling the expert who will do this work for you. Grinders are somewhat rare and expensive to buy, so renting one is a great option.

First, you should start by cutting the stump as close to the ground as possible. Chainsaws are heavy, so be sure that you are stable to the ground and wearing safety equipment. Also, a word of advice is not to let anyone stand in front of you because if the chain snaps, it can cause severe and even life-threatening injuries. Pets and children must be kept way, due to their sometimes unexpected reactions to noise, which can turn your attention in critical moments.

Now, use a grinder to grind up the stump, and all visible roots as well. This method is quite messy, so you will need to clean up the wood bits. Although considered as waste, that extra wood can be used as fertilizer for your garden. The downfall of this approach is that you will need quite the space around the stump for heavy machinery.

Spray it with herbicide

This method can be used only if the stump is fresh, and the tree had been cut down recently. You can both drill holes again, and fill them up with herbicide, or use a hatchet or an axe (depending on the size of the stump) to make crevices, which you will spray herbicide on.

For this purpose, I have used the most common hand sprayer, which can be found in every gardening center or a hardware store. The alternative is to fill an ordinary plastic bottle with pesticide and to punch several holes on the cap, therefore gaining an improvised muzzle.

Herbicide can be very toxic and dangerous for surrounding plants and vegetation, so you must be well informed about the chemicals you are using. Also, you must not use it more than it is recommended because through the ground, it can go to the water system, and it may happen that someone ingests it, which will cause problems.

Pull it out

There is one last resort to kill the stump, but this should be the solution only if you wish to eradicate it. You will need a shovel, an axe, and a pair of gloves and safety goggles. First, you will need to dig a hole around the stump, around 3ft in diameter. The depth should be at the roots so that you can see those. Next, using an axe, cut the roots completely, and remove the stump. Although this method seems easy when you read about it, brute strength and some heavy lifting will be required.

The hole made this way can be used to plant a new tree if you wish, or any other purpose you have planned. The downside of this method is that it is time-consuming and will often give you weak hands.


Here are some of my approaches which could help you greatly in achieving your goal. One final word of advice is to care to bring a balance if it is possible. If you have cut down the tree recently, always bear in mind that you should plant another one instead. Trees are generally considered comfortable for maintaining and will also bring you pleasant shade during hot summer months.

In case that you have any other creative approach to this problem, care to share in the comment section below.

Problem: Stubborn shrubs

Jack and lever assembly

Apply tons of pulling force to shrub roots using a jack. Place plywood scraps under the jack and jack stand so they don’t sink into the ground.

If you have shrubs that you want to remove, here’s how to get the roots out without hours of digging and chopping.

Use leverage. Start by digging around the base of the shrub and cutting all the roots you can get at. Then lay scraps of plywood on each side of the shrub. Set a jack stand or concrete blocks on one side and set up your jack on the other. Lay a beam across them and tie the root to the beam with a chain. You’ll apply hundreds of pounds of pulling force, so both the beam and the chain must be strong. Use a 6-ft. 4×6 or 6×6 for the beam and a chain for towing cars. Raise the jack, stopping to cut the roots as they become exposed. If you max out the height of your jack before all the roots are free, add a few blocks to increase the beam height.


Before cutting the roots, reduce tension on the chain to prevent injuries from recoil. Wear eye protection.

Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • Safety glasses

You’ll also need an auto jack, towing chain, jack stand and gloves.

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here’s a list.

  • 2×4 or larger blocks
  • 4×6 or larger beam, 6-ft. long
  • Plywood scraps

How to remove a tree stump

Drill holes in the stump

Cut off as much of the top of the stump as possible. Using a 1-in. spade bit with a spade bit extension, drill 1-in. holes around the perimeter of the stump about 12 in. deep and 3 to 4 in. back from the edge. Drill more holes 3 to 4 in. down from the rim at a 45-degree angle to connect with the other holes. They’ll provide vent holes for burning or help the rotting process.

Pour tree stump removal chemicals in the holes

Pour 3 to 4 oz. of tree stump removal chemicals into each of the holes as you learn how to kill a tree stump and fill them with water. The process takes four to six weeks. Find granular root killer that is easy to pour into the holes here.

You can remove a stump by renting a power stump grinder (learn how to use a stump grinder here), which is an option for what kills trees quickly. But another way is to buy a can of tree stump removal (available at most garden or home centers). Most tree stump killer brands are made of powdered potassium nitrate, which speeds up the rotting process. You simply pour the granules into drilled holes and fill the holes with water. The stump will become pretty spongy after four to six weeks. Keep kids and pets away. Then you can break out the rotten wood with an ax.

Watch this video tutorial to learn how to remove a tree stump the best way:

You could also try a more natural method with epsom salt stump removal. Learn how to get rid of tree stumps with epsom salt here.

How to get rid of tree roots

For a completely labor-free removal, the manufacturers of tree stump removal suggest burning out what’s left of the stump by pouring kerosene or fuel oil (never gasoline) into the holes. Wait until the liquid completely penetrates the wood (this could take a few weeks). Then drop a match into the holes to start the burning process. The stump removal will smolder for days, eventually leaving a charcoal-filled hole. It’s dangerous having a giant, smoldering ember in your yard, so some precautions are in order. Envelop the stump in chicken wire, remove all leaves from the vicinity before ignition and keep an eye on it!

We suggest the ax method for finishing the job. Tree stump removal works only on seasoned (older) stumps that have been dead for a year or so, not freshly cut tree stumps.

Next, watch a video tutorial for how to cut down a tree yourself safely:

Required Tools for this Tree Stump Removal Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start – you’ll save time and frustration.

  • 12 in. bit extension
  • Corded drill
  • Extension cord
  • Safety glasses

You can use a drill/driver instead of a corded drill. A 1 in. spade bit is recommended, but you can use a slightly larger or smaller one, if that’s all you have

Required Materials for this Tree Stump Removal Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here’s a list.

  • Stump remover

Every product is independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Believe it or not, cutting it down is often the easy part when it comes to removing trees from your property. The real challenge comes when it’s time to remove the tree stump, which may remain alive even after you’ve cut the tree down. This can be a long and difficult process but if you don’t do it then you may discover that the tree stump is doing damage to your property and creating safety hazards to the residents of your home.

There are several ways that you can go about removing tree stumps from your property. For starters you can hire a tree service professional for the stump removal. We typically use a stump grinder, which is a heavy duty instrument weighing around 1,000 pounds, and we grind the stump down into the ground. Sometimes, we can remove the stump using other methods, like a shovel, chainsaw, or digging bar. Of course, there are those DIY-ers out there who attempt to remove stumps with fire or by chaining it to a pickup truck and wrenching it out, but our methods are safer.

Now, in rare circumstances, we may use Epsom Salt. Epsom Salt is a way of chemically removing a tree stump. And, the fact is, you probably already have some of this type of salt in your home. It’s a common household remedy for a variety of problems. You might have used it when preparing a bath to soak in when soothing sore muscles, or – believe it or not – even as a laxative. It can however also be used to remove unwanted tree stumps.

What Is Epsom Salt?

Epsom Salt is the common name for Magnesium Sulfate, an inorganic salt that contains the elements sulfur, oxygen and magnesium. It has many uses around the home, including in gardening. Its sulfur content can be very helpful in providing nutrition to soil, which can often be deficient in this particular mineral. Its magnesium content can have the same effect in magnesium deficient soil, and so it can help to improve the growth of plants.

Mr. Tree Offers a Variety of Tree Services: Discover More >>

Epsom Salt also has the effect of drawing moisture out of everything that it comes in contact with. Care must be used when gardening with it, because too much of it can kill the plants you are trying to help grow. However, when you’re trying to remove a tree stump, this quality in Epsom Salt is exactly what you’re looking for.

Epsom Salt will draw moisture out of the soil, robbing the stump of resources. It will also remove moisture from the stump, drying it and causing it to rot. This is particularly useful if you are trying to remove a stump quickly.

Using Epsom Salt To Remove A Tree Stump

There are several ways you can go about using Epsom Salt to remove a tree stump. For the first one, you will need a drill bit in addition to some dry Epsom Salt. You will want to drill holes all around the stump, leaving a few inches between each one. After you have done this, carefully pour the dry Epsom Salt into each hole. Then very slowly add water to each of the holes to moisten the salt. Do not completely saturate the salt that fills the holes, simply moisten them. Then cover the stump with a tarp so that rainwater cannot get inside the holes and wash the Epsom Salt out. Over time, this will draw the moisture out of the stump, causing it to rot more quickly and preventing it from reshooting.

The other option is to mix a solution inside of a large, five-gallon bucket. You will need a high concentration of salt for this solution to be effective. It’s best to use two gallons of water to one gallon of Epsom Salt. Once you have mixed the solution together, all you have to do is pour it all over the stump, as well as on the roots and around the nearby soil. Then cover the stump with a tarp and repeat this process about once a week. Eventually, the solution will dry out the stump and cause it to rot faster.

As the stump decomposes, chip off parts of it as they become dried. Gradually, the stump will become smaller and smaller and eventually you should be able to pull what remains of it out of the ground. Make sure you get as much of the root system out as possible when removing the stump, and you will finally have removed that stump from your property.

After you have successfully used Epsom Salt to remove the stump from your property, you will need to dispose of the stump properly as well. It’s not necessarily something your city will pick up along with the other waste in your yard, so make sure that you’ve done your research on how to dispose of the remains of your stump properly. Oftentimes, local recycling centers will accept them.

Of course, if you hire a professional tree service provider to remove the stump, we’ll haul the remains of the tree off to be disposed of for you.

The last step is to repurpose the space where the stump once was. Fill the hole you have left with topsoil and spread grass seed over it. Soon enough, with regular watering, grass will grow in the area and you will be able to put your area to whatever use you would like!

This is a long, drawn out process but it does get the job done. If you want it done quickly and efficiently however, then contact Mr. Tree and we can get the stump (and its roots) removed quickly!

Tagged as: Epsom Salt, Tree Stump

12 Ways To Remove A Tree Stump By Hand

So why should you exert all the effort of removing a tree stump down so far? You don’t need to.

All you really need is for the stump to be below the level of the soil. I just removed one of my tree stumps by hand and I was able to do it in about 20 minutes. Heres how I did it.

1. Remove dirt or grass around the stump.

My stump was in my lawn so I removed the sod around the tree stump in a 2-foot diameter circle. I only dug down maybe 3 to 4 inches.

2. Cut the stump.

Setting the sod to the side I used a cordless reciprocating saw and started cutting the stump at about 3 inches below the level of my grass.

You could also use a chainsaw or a hand saw. If you use a chainsaw you may want to dig a bigger deeper hole. Be careful not to get your chain into the dirt or hit rocks because it will dull your chain fast.

If you are using a reciprocating saw then it helps to have one of the longer blades made for cutting wood. I worked my way cutting around the whole stump.

I wasn’t able to get to the middle of the stump so I used a sledgehammer to finish the job. It was nice that I left the stump a little tall so I had more leverage to break it off.

3. Replace the dirt or grass.

Once it broke off and all I did was replace the sod back to and covered the stump with a little dirt and some sod I dug up in another part of my yard. You could get a scrap piece of sod from a sod farm or just throw a little seed down.

You could just leave it and let the grass do the job. It will eventually grow in and cover the stump.

That’s it. Pretty fast and easy. The stump is only a few inches below the soil but over time the fungi in the soil will decompose the rest of the stump and give all the nutrients to the grass.

4. Recycle the stump.

In fact, a cool technique I have used in my garden is called hugelkultur beds. Basically, you bury a bunch of wood and grow stuff on top of it. The buried wood acts as a sponge for water and feeds the roots of your plants all the food and water they need with little watering on your part.

The stump under your grass should do the same. So instead of hauling off tree stump just bury it and plant stuff on top.

The Old Fashioned Way

If the easy way sounds too easy for you and you really want to have a masculine project to take up a whole Saturday then here’s how to do it the old-fashioned way.


Use a shovel to dig around the stump to expose the major roots. Depending on your soil you may also need a pick or digging bar. Dig down and out as much as you need to get access to all the roots.


Start cutting the roots with a reciprocating saw or if you want to stick with the old-fashioned theme then use a hand saw or an ax. A chainsaw could work as well but be careful not to hit rocks.

There are probably going to be more roots under the roots you just cut so keep digging if you need to expose some more roots. Only cut the roots as much as you need to pry or pull the stump out.


You can use a digging bar or a long 2×4 as leverage to pull the stump out or just use a car or preferably a 4 wheel drive vehicle.

As a kid, I remember pulling out a bunch of huge bushes with our suburban. It worked great. Use a chain or tow strap and slowly drive forward. You can even pump the gas a bit to rock the stump out.

I have also seen people use a handyman or large car jack to lift the stump out. I’ll give more detail on that below.

Once your stump is out pat yourself on the back because you are one manly man. Replace all the dirt and add a bit more to level off your soil and you are done.

How To Rot A Stump

If you are not in a hurry to remove the stump you can rot the stump. There are a lot of ways to rot a stump. I have tried a few of them with lackluster results. But others sound more promising. Whatever method you choose it will take several months to at least a year to rot or decompose a stump.

Rotting A Stump Naturally

This is the best way I have seen to rot a stump. It is super easy. Just put a pile of compost over the stump. The fungi in the compost will begin to decompose the stump. It is still going to take a year or longer.

This is how Mother Earth does it so I’m sure it works. I have seen people put a black plastic bucket over the stump as well but I’m not sure this is necessary. Just keep it covered in compost and you may want to add some animal poop as time goes on.

Most of the other methods mentioned below for rotting a stump actually kills the fungi so they probably slow down the decomposition process.

Rotting a Stump With Epson Salt

I tried this on my Chinese Elm tree growing up in my fence hoping that it would kill and rot my stump at the same time. After watching several Youtube videos describing how to do it, I followed all the steps of drilling the holes filling them with Epsom salt and covering with a tarp.

I actually forgot about it until the next year and when I went back I saw a new branch sprouting up from under my tarp. With an ax, I tried and chip away the stump but it was still very hard. I’m not convinced that using salt or Epsom salt will rot a stump.

Thinking back most of the videos I watched never did a “here’s the stump a year later” video. It probably didn’t work for them. The one thing it did do is it did slow the growth of the tree dramatically.

So maybe if I just put a huge pile of salt it will kill and decompose it… Well, I’m not going to do that because I don’t want my grapevine to die.

Removing A Stump With Potassium Nitrate

Potassium Nitrate is really kind of like a salt. It is actually a preservative used in making jerky. Great we have all eaten stump remover! The common product names you can buy are Blondie Stump Out or Spectracide Stump Remover.

I bought some of both but after reading the instructions wasn’t convinced it would work. So I made some sugar rockets with my kids instead. The product says it accelerates decomposition. So instead of taking 10 years to rot your stump, it should only take 5…jk. Ok enough of my soapbox.

To rot a stump with potassium Nitrate drill holes around the stump and fill with Stump out or Stump Remover. Its funny I looked for a video on Youtube with someone actually doing this and there is none there. Probably because it doesn’t work.

Removing A Stump With Bleach

I haven’t tried this but I don’t think it will work either because fungi are what decomposes stumps and bleach will kill fungi.

I have seen people use bleach on stumps to make some cool bleached stump tables. It turns the wood a white color and that’s about it.

I wrote an article of all my research about killing a tree stump with bleach check it out.

Using Muriatic Acid To Dissolve A Tree Stump

Muriatic Acid is pretty toxic so I would avoid ever using it. Wikipedia said, “Both the mist and the solution have a corrosive effect on human tissue, with the potential to damage respiratory organs, eyes, skin, and intestines irreversibly.”

Yikes, stay away from this stuff even though it probably would dissolve your stump. Just make sure it doesn’t dissolve your lungs while you are at it. Im sure napalm would dissolve your stump too but that doesn’t mean you should use it.

High Nitrogen Fertilizer For Stump Removal

Pouring high nitrogen fertilizer on a stump is said to rot a stump faster. I read it can still take 3 to 5 years. I think it will actually slow down the decomposition process because nitrogen fertilizer kills fungi and fungi is what actually decomposes stumps.

Burning A Stump

Now, this is a good way to remove a stump by hand. However, your stump needs to be dry and if you are in the middle of the city you may not be able to have a large smoky fire in your yard. Just check with your local fire department. Here are some of the best ways to remove a stump with fire.

Burn Barrel

Using a 55-gallon metal drum is a great way to burn out a stump. Just cut the bottom out and place it over the stump. Then you can add charcoal or a bunch of wood and light it up. If your stump doesn’t completely burn out at least it will turn into charcoal.

Then you can easily chip it up down so you can cover it up with dirt. Make sure to leave all the charcoal from the stump there. Just crush it up into the ground. It is the best fertilizer you can ever have and your grass or plants will grow super well for the next thousand years. Just look up biochar if you don’t believe me.

Swedish Candle

This works great. Just use a chainsaw to cut a hashtag(#) pattern into the top of your stump. Then lite it on fire and if the wood is dry it will burn for the next several hours until it is gone. My friend told me about this when he asked to have just one log.

I asked why he just needed one log and he told me about how to make a Swedish candle. He was going ice fishing and said that’s what he does to keep warm. It burns for hours and you just let it burn on the ice next to you. That’s when I thought this would work great for removing a tree stump.

Rocket Stove

This is another really cool way to remove a tree stump by hand. Drill a hole down the center of the stump. Then drill holes that connect to that center hole at the bottom of the stump. Soak it in kerosene and let it burn.

I have seen youtube videos where this worked super well so I tried it myself. I’m not sure why but it didn’t work the same for me. It struggled to stay on fire. But I am definitely going to try this again. Besides we had a fun family hot dog roast.

Fire Pit

You guessed it. Put a ring of rocks around your stump and every time you want to have s’mores go out and start a fire on top of your stump. Eventually, it will be burned to nothing but ash. Then you can cover it back up with dirt or just keep your fire pit there.

Now you know how to remove a stump by hand without the use of a grinder or a tractor. Good luck removing your tree stump.

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