How to Remove Tree Stumps Without a Grinder

How to remove a tree stump without a grinder? Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer.

Since there are many different types of trees with different properties, there are several methods for removing a stump. Each one can come in handy during a certain scenario.

That’s why in this post, we will outline the top three methods to remove tree stumps without a grinder and with minimal effort using common household items like shovels and hoes.

So without wasting another breath, let’s get right to it!

1. Tree Stump Removal By Hand

If you are looking for a way to remove a small tree stump without using a grinder or any other power tools, then the best method is the good old-fashioned way of removing it manually by a bit of hard work. We know it sounds laborious, but as long as the stump is small, you should have no trouble at all.

Before we get to how manual removal works, let’s take a look at the tools, supplies, and safety equipment required for the job.

Tools and Equipment

Here are all the tools you’ll need to perform this job by your own two hands safely:

  • Axe
  • Mattock
  • Shovel
  • Heavy steel digging bar
  • Steel-toed boots
  • Work gloves
  • Eye protection

Six-Step Method to Remove a Tree Stump by Hand

  1. Move any debris and grass away from the stump. To do this, use the broad end of your mattock to dig 12 inches around the stump.
  2. Now, get a heavy steel digging bar, position it underneath the center of the stump, and start hitting it with your axe, preferably on the side that is cut. 
  3. Use your shovel to remove dirt around the stump. 
  4. Remove as much dirt as you can by hand and use the mattock and shovel to break up and loosen the soil. 
  5. To remove the roots, use the axe to cut them out completely.
  6. Finish up by removing any remaining earth and roots with a hoe or rake, then water the ground thoroughly after you’ve finished making sure there are no weeds or other unwanted plants growing back!

Voila! That’s all you have to do.

Tips for Safely Removing a Tree Stump by Hand

Before we move on to the second method, we want to share four tips that will keep you safe when removing stumps manually.

  1. Ensure you’re wearing safety gear. You need to always wear steel-toed boots and a pair of work gloves — and don’t forget your eye protection!
  2. Use extreme caution when using an axe or digging bar as they can be extremely dangerous if not used correctly.
  3. Make sure to check the area for underground cables and pipes before you start, especially since some stumps have roots that grow under them which is a major tip-off.
  4. It’s best practice to make sure your kids and pets aren’t around when you are working, as even a minor mistake can lead to a serious injury.
  5. Aim your axe extremely carefully while swinging. Why? Well, because if you keep hitting dirt instead of the taproot, your blade will soon become dull and you would need to spend a lot of time sharpening it.

2. Tree Stump Removal With the Help of Chemicals

Stump removal with chemicals is a process that uses an herbicide to kill the roots of your tree stump, which will allow it to decompose naturally over time.

It’s one of the quickest ways to remove a tree stump without destroying its taproot or damaging other nearby plants.

Chemical sprays are very convenient as they are easy to apply and won’t take up too much of your time either. However, you should be aware that chemical sprays can only kill the roots if they are applied directly to them. So it is important to get as down near ground level as possible.

If a tree stump either does not have any taproots or is small in size and yet cannot be removed by hand, we would definitely recommend using chemical sprays as they’ll get the job done in no time.

Tools and Equipment

Here’s the entire list of things you will need to remove a stump through chemicals:

  • Hay
  • Drill and a large bit
  • Plastic tarp
  • Longbow saw
  • Garden mulch
  • Chainsaw
  • Steel-toed boots
  • Safety gloves
  • Eye protection
  • Simple paper gas mask
  • High-nitrogen fertilizer and potassium nitrate granules

Seven-Step Method for Removing Tree Stumps with Chemicals

Here’s a simple seven-step method to chemically remove any stump:

  1. Clear the area of any debris and grass to 12 inches around the stump.
  2. Find a drill and the largest bit that the drill accepts, then drill a hole in the top of your stump. Make sure that you can easily stick your hand through when you do this!
  3. Use an empty container to create a barrier around the tree stump and cover it with hay for two days to let it soak up all of the herbicide. 
  4. To remove dirt and roots, use a small bow saw or chainsaw to cut around the edges of your stump in sections which will make it easier for you to break it apart by hand if necessary. 
  5. Fill up a bucket with high-nitrogen fertilizer and potassium nitrate granules, then pour it into each of the holes that you drilled in your stump. At this point, your stump should be almost completely decayed – but you’re not done just yet!
  6. Once again, fill up another bucket with high-nitrogen fertilizer or manure to dilute it before pouring it into each hole that was drilled into the stump. The idea behind this step is to create a sort of “food-toilet” for your tree stump so that it will decompose even faster! Once again, you can use both fertilizer and manure in order to have an even greater impact on how quickly your stumps are removed.
  7. Finally, make sure to cover any exposed roots or stumps with mulch and then water them thoroughly so they can absorb as much moisture as possible. You can make this process even easier by using hay again. However, it may be more efficient for you to use mulch instead as long as your area is large enough. This last step should help keep everything at bay until all of the tree stumps have been decomposed.

Tips for Safely Removing a Tree Stump with Chemicals

For chemical removal, you should take these three safety steps:

  1. Wear all safety equipment and make sure any unprotected area of your body doesn’t come in contact with the chemical.
  2. Make sure your kids and pets are inside, as that’s the best way to stop them from touching the stump or the mulch which can expose them to the chemicals.
  3. Once you’re done, wash your hands thoroughly and disinfect your tools as well.

3. Tree Stump Removal By Burning

It’s exactly as it sounds. Just light your stump on fire and let it burn until nothing is left but ashes. This method works best for smaller stumps that are located in areas where the ground is fairly dry.

However, you can also use this technique if you want to be environmentally friendly because tree stumps contain quite a bit of methane gas which releases toxins into the air.

Tools and Equipment

You only need these four things: a drill and large bit, a mattock and shovel, a lighter, and a can of kerosene.

Three-Step Method to Remove a Tree Stump by Burning

Burning a stump is pretty simple. Just take these three steps.

  1. Clear the ground around your stump to be sure that no debris is present. 
  2. Use a chainsaw or longbow saw to remove any roots and dirt from around your stump. 
  3. Drill holes into the top of the stump and fill them with kerosene. You can use a second bucket with water to extinguish any sparks that fly out. Now, just light it with a lighter and you’re all set! 

Tips to Safely Remove a Tree Stump by Burning

To burn a stump safely, remember to take the following three precautionary steps.

  1. Once the stump has completely burnt away, don’t forget to cover it with hay or mulch before you place dirt on top of it- this will help avoid early regeneration of the tree.
  2. Never use gasoline in place of kerosene as this can lead to an uncontrollable fire in the stump.
  3. Be on constant watch while the fire is burning. You should never leave sight of the fire and it’s ideal to ignite the flames at dawn and to ensure that you douse them.


After reading this post, you now know of three methods to remove a tree stump without a grinder. We hope this post has helped you identify which method will work best for you — because that’s something only you can decide as you’re the only one who knows your specific needs.

Before we end this post, we want to once again reiterate that safety always comes first. So please be safe when removing stumps by wearing safety equipment, making sure no pets or kids are around when you’re working and following all the other safety tips shared in this post.


  • Nathan Collins

    Having spent years working in the landscaping industry, Nathan Collins has cultivated a wealth of knowledge about the natural world. He is committed to helping others appreciate the beauty in their backyards, whether it's through identifying rare rocks and minerals or crafting the perfect landscape.

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