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How to Cut and Remove a Tree Stump with a Chainsaw

Get Rid of Ugly Stumps With These 6 Steps

Today’s post is all about How to Cut and Remove a Tree Stump with a Chainsaw in your yard,  quickly and safely. We all know It can be an arduous and grueling process, to remove a tree stump.  But it is also one that absolutely must be done if you want your yard to look its best.

To get rid of that unsightly stump, you basically have two choices:  Pay someone else big bucks to do it for you, or if you have a good chainsaw and are willing to follow good safety precautions – you can Do It Yourself!

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. So if you’ve been considering the possibility of using a chainsaw for a tree stump removal we’ve got some simple step by step instructions for you below:

Many homeowners wonder how to remove a tree stump without a grinder – A very popular question and the subject of our article today. Tree stump removal can be a predicament, and here are the DIY steps to remove tree stumps.

 

The Cliff Notes

Not everyone wants or needs a complete break down of the entire stump removal process. For those of you who fall into that category; this is the Quick Version 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 to the ground level
  • Dig the dirt from around the stump exposing the roots
  • Cut the roots
  • Pry the stump from the ground
  • Dispose of the stump

What are those Tree Stumps doing there in the First Place?

Anyone who owns an older home knows how bad trees can get after a while. Sure, in the beginning, they’re small and easy to manage, but after a couple of decades or so, they begin to overtake the entire yard. At times they even begin to become a source of danger.

Sometimes trees need to be cut down, and here's what might be left. A BIG, HUGE stump.
Sometimes trees need to be cut down, and here’s what might be left. A BIG, HUGE stump.

And eventually, they can even cause severe damage to your home (or even family members) if you don’t take care of the problem before it is too late.

This is exactly why people end up cutting down the branches that hang over the house. But if the tree itself is what’s dangerous, many folks opt to cut the entire tree down.  Hence the new stumps.

This requires a lot of work, and because of that, oftentimes people don’t remove the whole tree. Instead only cutting down to the ground, or even worse, a few feet above it. This results in the trees continual growth and of course, the ugly tree stump sitting in your yard.

How to Remove a Tree Stump Without a Grinder

This article will provide you the steps necessary to remove a tree stump without a grinder and save you the $100-$200 fees to have someone come out and remove the stump for you.

Removing the Stump

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 a few things you should have before starting the process of removing a tree stump with your chainsaw. Things you will need:

  • Chainsaw
  • Personal protective equipment (i.e., gloves, eye protection, hearing protection, etc.)
  • Shovel
  • Digging bars (these act as levers to remove the stump)
  • Ax

Before you get started –

You may want to check out this video on Chainsaw Safety with Roger Cook of “This Old House”!

 

Ok – Now Let’s get to some “Stump Cutting”

 

Step One: Put Your Equipment On

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 the 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 the Stump as low to the ground as possible

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. Next, you’re are going to have to pry it out of the ground. The less amount of 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 bounce back, causing injury. Keep firm pressure, and move slowly.

Step Three: Shovel the Dirt Around 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 much as 2-feet under the ground. Which is why this is such a labor-intensive step. I’d probably dedicate an entire day for step three. Unless you’ve got extra hands helping you out.

Step 4: Cutting the Roots

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 ruin it with a quickness.

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

Step 5: Prying the Stump Loose

Another highly labor-intensive step in the stump removal process. But at least the last step that requires a ton 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 it’s 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: Disposing of the 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.

You can get in touch with your city to see if tree stumps are picked up for disposal. Recycling centers will typically take tree stumps off your hands too.

What to do with your now clear yard

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

Now that you have finally gotten that eyesore 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 it. Mulch will also help keep the moisture in the soil. And as we all know, grass needs water to grow.

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.

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.

Insect Haven

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.

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 three stumps roots are exposed, well then, it’s nearly impossible to landscape around it.

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 neighbors 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.

Cause New 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.

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. Without the headache

Rotting the tree stump

This involves drilling holes into the stump about 10-inches deep, filling it with a nitrogen substance, and pour water into it. It will soften the stump gradually, and you can then chip pieces off easily.

Control Burn

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. 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. Purchase tree stump removal chemicals and follow the instructions for it.

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.

Wrap-Up

Removing tree stumps adds value to your home, and even better, it adds valuable land for you to use. The roots of the stumps take up a lot of real estate in your yard. It dominates the area and doesn’t let grass grow around it. It’s usually infested with weeds, and just creates an overall dingy look in 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 the best way to use it.

Check out more “Gear” for Your Home at BestHomeGear.Com!

Additional Reading

Photo Credit: Marco VerchKristian Dela Cour via Flickr CC License

 

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Kevin

As a Homeowner, Builder, and Property Developer/Manager for 30+ years, I’ve worn a lot of “different hats”, and In that capacity, owned or used about every tool or piece of home equipment one can think of. Managing property in Michigan, Arizona, and Florida, also allows us to test many of the products we review firsthand, and in vastly different climates and conditions. Our goal at BestHomeGear.Com is to share the first-hand experience by providing exceptional Home & Garden Techniques, Product Reviews, and useful DIY Guides for our faithful readers - Homeowners like you. We trust you will find BestHomeGear.Com very informative - and extremely helpful.

9 Comments

  1. About a month ago, I cut a tree and I left the same. I thought that wasn’t a big issue. But now a days the stump causes a great problem to my neighbor’s child as they play all day long in the backyard. Thank you so much for this great information. Now, for sure I can remove the stump perfectly.

    1. 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!

  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.

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