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How to Cut and Remove a Tree Stump with a Chainsaw

Six Simple Steps For Do it Yourself Stump Removal.

Today’s post is about How to Cut and Remove a Tree Stump with a Chainsaw quickly but safely. We all know removing tree stumps can be an arduous and grueling process, but here are a few tricks available to those who learn how. 

Three Methods to Remove Tree Stumps

  1. Pay someone else big bucks to do it for you (or)
  2. Rent or buy a good chainsaw, and follow these 6 steps with safety precautions – and do It yourself.
  3. Use Chemical stump killers and wait about 3-5 months

There is nothing uglier than the remains of a tree trunk, that giant stump staring you right in the face, where a beautiful tree used to be. But what is the best way to remove stumps?

We think the best affordable answer to removing stumps is Option #2 above.  Removing tree stumps with a chainsaw. If you’ve been considering using a chainsaw for tree stump removal, we’ve got some simple step-by-step instructions for you below:

Tips for Removing Tree Stumps

This is the Quick Summary of how to remove a tree stump with a chainsaw.

  • Get your personal protective equipment on (yes, all of it)
  • Cut the tree stump down close to the ground level
  • Dig all the dirt away from the stump – exposing the roots
  • Cut the roots with a chainsaw
  • Pry the stump from the ground
  • Dispose of the stump

Remove Tree Stumps
How to Use a chainsaw to remove stumps – BestHomeGear.com

Tools Needed To Remove Tree Stumps:

There is a multitude of ways to clear those stumps, but only one way gets them out quickly. Assuming that you have at the very least read the title of our post, you should already know what technique I’m talking about: The chainsaw.

There are a few other things you should have on hand before starting the process of removing a tree stump with your chainsaw.

Tools you will need:

  • Chainsaw
  • Personal protective equipment (i.e., gloves, head and eye protection, hearing protection, etc.)
  • Shovel
  • Digging bars (these act as levers to remove the stump)
  • An Ax – To cut hard-to-reach roots.

Before you get started – watch this video on “Chainsaw Safety” with Roger Cook of “This Old House”!



Six Steps To Remove Stumps with a Chainsaw 


Step One:  Put On Your Personal Protective Equipment

Personal Protection Equipment Using Chainsaw - Best Home Gear
PPE using Chainsaw – Besthomegear.com

This is a pretty simple step, but it is by far the most important one. Even if you are a chainsaw veteran, the dangers in operating them never go away. The hazards of chainsaws are bountiful; chains can break and hit the operator or anyone around it.

Did you know that roughly 40% of chainsaw accidents take place in the leg area? Another 35% happen in the hands and wrists. This, combined with the fact that all the chainsaw injuries together come out to $350 million per year, should tell you all you need to know about how important safety is when using a chainsaw.

Step Two:  Cut Tree Stump as Low to the ground as possible

cutting tree stump - best home gear
Cutting Tree Stump Close To The Ground – Besthomegear.com

Cutting the stump low enough to the ground shouldn’t be too difficult of a task to accomplish. Make sure you get all of the branches off too. The lower to the ground you can get the stump, the better. Now you can remove the tree roots from the rest of the stump.

In the next step, you’re going to have to pry it out of the ground. The less amount tree remaining to work with, the easier it is going to be for you to remove the stump.

When trimming the stump to the ground, make sure to apply the right amount of pressure with the chainsaw. Apply too little pressure, and you’ll never get through the tree and end up ruining the blade. But applying too much pressure can result in binding the chainsaw blade or kick-back, possibly causing injury. Keep firm pressure, and move slowly.

Step Three:  Shovel Dirt Away From the Stump

This step is meant to expose the roots of the tree stump. It’s a long and labor-intensive process (just like every other step in stump removal), but it is essential nonetheless.

When doing this, you will need all of the roots exposed; this will probably require you to dig several feet from the tree and as many as 2-feet under the ground. This is why this is such a labor-intensive step. I’d probably dedicate an entire day to step three. Unless you’ve got extra hands helping you out.

Step 4:   Cut Tree Stump Roots

cutting tree stump roots
Cutting Tree Stump Roots WIth Chainsaw – Besthomegear.com

The fourth step is why the third step is so important. Cutting the roots isn’t necessarily a difficult task – especially if you have a good chainsaw on hand. But if you don’t have the roots properly exposed, then you’re going to have a difficult time separating the roots from the tree.

You should be wary when cutting through the roots, you’re working right next to the dirt, and if you mistakenly dig the blade of your chainsaw in the dirt, you’ll dull it instantly.

Be sure you get all of the dirt away from the roots before you begin slicing through them.

Step 5:  Pry the Tree Stump Loose:

Pry Tree Stump
Prying Tree Stumps – Besthomegear.com

Another highly labor-intensive step in the stump removal process, however, it’s the last step that requires a lot of work.

After you’ve got the roots separated from the tree stump, take your digging bars (or landscaping bars) and start to work the stump out of the ground. These digging bars act as levers to help you slowly pry and lift the stump out of its resting place.

Because the tree has been sitting there since its inception, this part won’t be easy. It is downright infuriating. But once you have gotten the stump out of the ground, you are home free.

Step 6:  Dispose of the Tree Stump

This is the easy part. Sure, the tree stump is likely very heavy, but moving it is nothing compared to all the work you had to do to pry from its roots and detach it from the ground altogether. Call someone who can come pick the stump up for you. You can probably even make some killer firewood with a larger tree stump.

Contact your city parks department to see if tree stumps are picked up for disposal. Otherwise, local Recycling centers will typically take tree stumps off your hands, too – for a fee.

How To Dispose of Tree Stumps

Really thick green grass
A clear yard with no unsightly stumps!

Now that you have finally gotten that eyesore of a stump out of your yard, you’re going to be left with a big gaping hole.

The new clearing is going to be just as unsightly at first, but with a little tender loving care, you’ll have the yard looking great in no time.

The first thing you’ll want to do is to fill the hole left behind with some high-quality topsoil. Then spread your grass seed over the soil and some mulch over the seeds.

The mulch will help keep the seeds from blowing away and keep the birds from picking at them. Mulch will also help keep the moisture in the soil. And as we all know, grass needs water to grow.

6 Reasons to get rid of Tree Stumps.

There are tons of older homes with tree stumps sitting there, waiting to be removed. But so many people just don’t see the need to do this. Let’s take a look at the reasons tree stump removal is a necessary evil.

They’re Ugly

Tree stumps are the number one reason for yards looking awful. If you are looking for an aesthetically pleasing lawn (and let’s face it, that is almost certainly the reason you cut the tree down in the first place) then you definitely can’t have giant tree trunks in the middle of it.

Tree Stumps are Insect Havens

Tree stumps are basically just rotting trees, but they don’t completely decay for a VERY long time. During that time, the tree stump is going to become the home for other creatures – the kinds you don’t want. Rotting wood will be occupied by beetles, termites, and a plethora of other creatures that make their homes in the crevices of rotting wood.

Tree Stumps make Yard Work Difficult.

Tree stumps aren’t just hard to look at; they are hard to maneuver around as well. It’s just another thing blocking your path while you’re mowing the yard. It’s more stuff for you to have to weed eat around. And if thee stump roots are exposed, well then, it’s nearly impossible to landscape around it.

Tree Stumps are Hazards

This is a pretty big deal if you have children, especially younger ones. Kids aren’t always paying attention to what they are doing. Actually, I can say from experience (and a lot of it) that they are almost never paying attention.

The larger tree stumps generally have a ton of exposed roots around them, presenting a serious tripping hazard for children. And if it is a neighbor’s child that trips and injures themselves guess who is held accountable for that? The owner of the property is. Don’t let that be you.

The exposed roots also cause some damage to your lawnmower as well. Accidentally hitting a blade on exposed roots is pretty easy to do, and it destroys the blade.

So keep your family and your lawn care equipment safe; just remove those stumps already.

Tree Stumps Can Cause New Tree Growth

Tree stumps are sometimes the cause of new tiny trees growing around them. But not those pretty palm trees people spend upwards of a hundred bucks on. No, we’re talking unsightly trees that nobody wants in their yard. These trees are difficult to get rid of once they sprout, and they take up valuable nutrients that all the other plants in your yard require.

Stumps Can Ruin the Yard

Tree stumps take up a giant swath of the yard, even if the part that is visible isn’t that big. Think of it like an iceberg. Everybody knows that the exposed part of the iceberg is much smaller than what is lurking under the water. The same is true with stumps.

The roots of a tree can expand several feet; we’re talking 20-plus feet in some cases. This means that all the grass and plants that you wish to plant around it aren’t getting the proper amount of nutrients to be healthy. The roots of the tree stump simply dominate everything.

Other Stump Removal Techniques

If you read this and were frightened away by the amount of sheer force and physical labor it is going to take to remove your stump, then check out some of these other ways to remove tree stumps.

How To Remove Tree Stump Without Chainsaw

Just for fun (not recommending) Check out this video with some “Creative” ideas to remove stumps without a chainsaw:


“Rotting” the Tree stump

This involves drilling holes into the stump about 10-inches deep, filling it with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer, and pour water into the holes to activate.  If you use this chemical method, we recommend digging the ground around the tree stump to expose the roots and applying the same chemical treatment to hasten root decay.

This is by no means a quick solution (up to one year wait time) for tree stump removal, but it’s a safer application than harsher chemicals.  The nitrogen will soften the stump gradually, allowing you to chip pieces off easily.

“Control Burn” Tree Stump

A controlled burn is when you purposefully set something on fire, but not in a criminal way. Repeat the same process for rotting the stump. Then put some wood on the top of it and light the wood, taking care to avoid burns. Make sure you contact the city you are in to make sure this is legal. Here’s a “combo approach” to using a chainsaw & a controlled burn method.

Tree stump Chemical treatments

This still involves a chainsaw and drill, but it is still easier than removing the stump manually. To use this method, you can purchase aggressive tree stump removal chemicals, like Bonide Stump and Brush killer, and be sure to follow the instructions they recommend.

Call the Pros

Of course, you could always call people that remove stumps for a living. This will save you a lot of time. And if you don’t already the right tools needed to complete the job (like a chainsaw), it could even save you money.


Knowing How To Remove tree stumps can add a lot of value to your home, and even better, it adds valuable land for you to use without having obstacles in the way.

Tree stumps take up a lot of real estate in your yard and can dominate the area, which doesn’t let the grass grow around it. The net result.  It’s usually infested with weeds and creates an overall dingy look on your lawn.

Imagine all the things you can do once you get rid of that stump. Put down a flower bed, or maybe a garden. There are countless things you’ll be able to do with this added space; you just have to figure out the best way to use it.

Thanks for Visiting, and don’t forget to check out more “Gear” for Homes @ BestHomeGear.Com!

Additional References & Reading

Photo Credit: Marco VerchKristian Dela Cour via Flickr CC License


    • Steve, thanks for your comment and appreciation for this post on how to remove a tree stump with a chainsaw. While we do not have additional posts regarding this subject, here is an article we wrote, I think would be helpful to share with your particular readers: https://besthomegear.com/best-privacy-hedge/. Good luck with your work!

  1. Hey Kevin, we got our trees cut in the yard six months back and the stumps were left behind. They are unnecessarily eating up the space and I feel they are dangerous for the kids who play. I was exploring for some of the effective and cheap methods on the stump removal and that’s how I happen to come across your article. Thanks for sharing this amazing resource.

  2. Hey Kevin! My neighbor was just telling me how bothered he is with the Tree Stump in his backyard. This is worth sharing to him, it would be a great help 🙂 I’m glad you shared this. Thank you.

    • James, I agree that using a chainsaw can be a tricky business. We assume by our article, that the reader owns and understands the safety requirements inherent in chainsaw use. We also offer an alternative “burn the stump” method for removal, if the chainsaw method is out of their comfort zone. Thanks for the comment!

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About the Author: As a Builder, Realtor, and Property Manager for 25+ years, Kevin has used Tools and Outdoor Equipment for the bulk of his career. Managing property in Michigan and Arizona, he also tests many of the products he reviews firsthand, in vastly different climates and conditions. Our goal at BestHomeGear.Com is to share first-hand experience - Providing "Unbiased" Product Reviews, DIY Guides, and useful Home & Garden Techniques for our faithful readers - Homeowners just like you!

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