UF/IFAS Okeechobee County Extension Service

458 Highway 98 North

Okeechobee, FL 34972-2578

Phone: (863) 763-6469

E- mail:  dfculbert@ifas.ufl.edu

Quick LinksSpeed up decay  Burning  Grinding  References    

August 24, 2005

Feature Article - for release the week of August 28, 2005

Dan Culbert  - Extension Horticulture Agent

Vanishing Stumps

Katrina is on her way out in the Gulf, and we can have our lives back again.  As a result of her visit, home owners are back in their Florida Yards, cleaning up branches and giving us a chance to take another look at the leftovers from last years storms.


Many landscapes have lost trees, and their stumps remain as eyesores, termite factories and bumps that are bothersome to mowers.  Todayís column comes to us from former UF Extension Specialist Bob Black who has some suggestions on how they may be removed with the least amount of effort and expense.

Trees are a major part of the landscape around our homes. They enhance the beauty of our homes as well as shade them from the hot summer's sun. Unfortunately, when a tree dies, the homeowner is forced to go through the expense of having the tree removed.  In many instances, the upper portion of the tree is removed and the homeowner is left with an unsightly stump. There are no cheap, easy and quick methods of removing tree stumps, but here are some helpful hints on what can be done.

If you have the patience, rotting is probably the cheapest and easiest method of stump removal. Rotting or decaying is a process by which fungi break down wood.  Fungi do not have chlorophyll and therefore cannot make food like green plants. They obtain their food from other sources such as wood stumps.

The decaying process can be accelerated by supplying the fungi with warm temperatures and moisture. We can do little to control the temperature; however, we can keep the stump moist by watering. If you cover the stump with a plastic tarp, it will also keep the stump  moist and speed up decay.

Decay can also be sped up by boring large vertical holes at least l-inch in diameter into the stump. These holes expose more wood surface to the wood-decaying fungi. The addition of a small amount of nitrogen fertilizer will also speed the decay process. However, avoid adding large quantities of fertilizer to the stump. Fungi, like green plants, can be burned when over-fertilized.


The speed of decay will depend greatly on the species of tree. The wood of some species such as cypress, cedar, mulberry and oak is very resistant to attack by fungi and will take much longer to decay.

The quickest method of stump removal is simply digging and cutting the stump out of the ground. This process requires a strong back and may involve many hours of hard work. The procedure consists of digging a ditch or trench around the stump from 1 to 2 feet wide and 1 to 2 feet deep, severing the roots with an axe, and dragging the stump from the hole.Hog_tree_stump_burning.JPG

Burning has long been a method of stump removal.  Some have added petroleum products to stumps before burning, which is dangerous, illegal, and can also permanently pollute the soil.  However, because of strict local fire ordinances on burning and the fact that this method can be dangerous, other methods of stump removal should be used.


Another way to have a tree stump removed is to call a tree surgeon or tree removal service. They have machines which will remove the stump by grinding it into small chips. The process takes only a few minutes but may be expensive. The cost of renting a stump grinder for a day may be a few hundred dollars - consider sharing this cost with a few of your neighbors who also have lost trees recently.

There are chemicals offered for sale which claim to be effective in stump removal. Some of these chemicals have been tested and found ineffective. There are no magical chemicals on the market which will dissolve a stump in a few days.

If you don't feel like going through the hassle of removing a tree stump, make good use of it in your landscape. A tree stump can be made into a very interesting container for growing plants. Pot plants placed on a tree stump will help it to blend into the landscape.


And, as you remove that stump, spend some time thinking about replacing that important part of your Florida Yard with a equally beautiful tree. Our office can help you select that perfect replacement for your landscape.  

Iíve placed more information on our Okeechobee web page,  http://okeechobee.ifas.ufl.edu.  If you need additional information on stump removal, email us at okeechobee@ifas.ufl.edu or call us at 863-763-6469.  Local residents can stop by our office at 458 Hwy 98 North in Okeechobee, and for Florida Yard questions visit our Okeechobee County Master Gardeners from 1 to 5 PM on Tuesday afternoons. 


Trade names, where used, are given for the purpose of providing specific information. They do not constitute an endorsement or guarantee of products named, nor does it imply criticism of products not named. The Florida Cooperative Extension Service - Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer authorized to provide research, educational information, and other services to individuals and institutions that function without regard to race, color, sex, age, handicap, or national origin.  Florida Cooperative Extension Service / IFAS / University of Florida.  Larry A.  Arrington, Dean Last update: 08/29/2005 .  This page is maintained by Dan Culbert  Hit Counter


Black, Bob. Tree Stump Removal.  in: Dr. Bob's Gardening Tips. Gainesville: UF/IFAS, 2005.   http://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/gt/stump/stump.htm