HomeHow To GuidesHome ImprovementHow to Remove Tree Stumps with a Chainsaw

How to Remove Tree Stumps with a Chainsaw

Six (6) Simple Steps For Do it Yourself (DIY) Stump Removal.

Today’s post is about How to Remove Tree Stumps with a Chainsaw inexpensively, but most important – Safely. Removing tree stumps can be a challenging, grueling process, but there are a few tricks available to those willing to learn and put in the hard work 🙂

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, follow these six 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 Safely Removing Tree Stumps

This is the Quick Summary of removing a tree stump with a chainsaw.

  • Get your 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 are many ways to clear those stumps, but only one 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.

You should have a few other things on hand before 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.

Video on “Chainsaw Safety” with Roger Cook at “This Old House”

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlwb0IiUjnc]


The 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 simple step, but it is the most important one. Even if you are a chainsaw veteran, the dangers of 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 roughly 40% of chainsaw accidents occur in the leg area? Another 35% happen in the hands and wrists. This, combined with the fact that all the chainsaw injuries come 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 further towards the bottom you can cut the stump, the better.

Now you can remove the tree roots from the rest of the stump.

You must pry it out of the ground in the next step. The less amount tree remaining to work with, the easier it will be for you to remove the stump.

When trimming the stump to the ground, apply the right amount of pressure with the chainsaw. Apply too little pressure, and you’ll never get through the tree and ruin the blade. But applying too much stress can bind 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 (like every step in stump removal), but it is essential nonetheless.

When doing this, you will need all 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 difficult, especially if you have an excellent chainsaw. But if you don’t adequately expose the roots, you will have difficulty separating the seeds 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 your chainsaw’s blade into the ground, you’ll dull it instantly.

Be sure you get all the dirt away from the roots before 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 separating the roots from the tree stump, take your digging bars (or landscaping bars) and work the stump out of the ground. These digging bars act as levers to help you slowly pry and lift the stump from its resting place.

This part won’t be easy because the tree has been sitting there since its inception. 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. The tree stump is likely very heavy, but moving it is nothing compared to all the work you must 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 take tree stumps off your hands for a fee.

How To Dispose of Tree Stumps


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

The new clearing will be just as unsightly, but with tender loving care; the yard will look great in no time.

First, you’ll want to fill the hole left behind with high-quality topsoil. Then spread your grass seed over the soil and some mulch over the ground.

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 waiting to be removed. But so many people don’t see the need to do this. Let’s look at why 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 just rotting trees that don’t wholly decay for a long time. During that time, the tree stump will become the home for other creatures – the kinds you don’t want.

Rotting wood will be occupied by beetles, termites, and many 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 also hard to maneuver around. It’s another thing blocking your path while mowing the yard. It’s more stuff for you to have to weed eat around. And if the stump roots are exposed, it’s nearly impossible to landscape around it.

Tree Stumps are Hazards

This is a big deal if you have children, especially younger ones. Kids aren’t always paying attention to what they are doing. I can say from experience (and a lot of it) that they seldom pay attention.

The giant tree stumps generally have many exposed roots around them, presenting a severe tripping hazard for children. And if a neighbor’s child 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 edge.

So keep your family and lawn care equipment safe; 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 over a hundred bucks on. No, we’re talking unsightly trees that nobody wants in their yard.

These trees are difficult to remove once they sprout and take up valuable nutrients required by all the other plants in your yard.

Stumps Can Ruin the Yard

Tree stumps take up a giant yard swath, even if the visible part isn’t big. Think of it like an iceberg. Everybody knows the exposed portion of the iceberg is much smaller than what lurks in the water. The same is valid 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 you wish to plant around it aren’t getting the proper nutrients to be healthy. The roots of the tree stump dominate everything.

Other Stump Removal Techniques

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

“Rotting” the Tree stump

This involves drilling holes into the stump about 10 inches deep, filling it with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer, and pouring water into the pits 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 not 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 top of it and light it to avoid burns. Make sure you contact the city you are in to make sure this is legal.

Video: “Combo approach” using a Chainsaw and Controlled Burn Stump


Tree stump Chemical treatments

This involves a chainsaw and drill, but it is still easier than manually removing the stump. To use this method, you can purchase aggressive tree stumps removal chemicals, like Bonide Stump and Brush Killer, and 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 have the right tools needed to complete the job (like a chainsaw), it could save you money.


Knowing How To Remove tree stumps can add much value to your home; even better, it adds valuable land for you to use without obstacles.

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 a dingy look on your lawn.

Imagine not ever mowing around that stump again, ever.  And how about everything you can do with that space once you get rid of that stump?

Put down a flower bed or maybe a garden. You can do countless things with this added space; 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 Verch, Kristian Dela Cour via Flickr CC License

Kevin is the author and editor for Best Home Gear. In addition to his work in publishing, Kevin enjoys exploring the Outdoors in Michigan and Arizona, Hiking, Cycling, Fishing, Reading, and Completing Projects for Home and Garden.


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