Ed Hume Logo

Tree-Killing & Stump Removal

Trees are beautiful to look at and they contribute much to the health of our environment. However, sometimes there is a good reason why it is necessary to eliminate one from the garden. For example, willow, locust and maple roots get into drains; disease or weather might destroy a tree; a tree may outgrow its location or adequate pruning might not be feasible.

Some people kill an unwanted tree by girdling it, thus cutting off the flow of life-giving sap. This will indeed kill the tree, but a dead tree becomes a source of danger and still has to be cut down eventual1y. A much better solution is to get rid of the tree immediately. The stump can then be killed and dug out or burned up...or it might become a part of the landscape plan.

The best time to out down a tree and be fairly assured that it will not survive is in late May or mid-August. By attaching ropes to each section of the tree before it is out, you can control the direction of its fall. Do not cut too large a section at one time and it is best to enlist the aid of a neighbor or friend to accomplish the task with safety.

Once the tree has been removed, the stump can be killed as follows: Bore holes at a slanting angle around the top of the stump. The holes should be about one and one-half inches in diameter and from eight to ten inches deep. Fill them with salt peter (nitrate of potash) or a commercial stump-killing product. The material will spread through the stump and prevent sucker growth from appearing. If the stump has green foliage growth on it now, you can apply a Blackberry Vine or Brush Killer to the foliage as a first step. Be sure this material does not touch any desirable vegetation, except the plant suckers you are trying to destroy. Read and follow label instructions.


Big stumps can be hard to remove, without heavy equipment.Once the stump is dead, you may want to hire someone to remove it from your property. However, this may be impractical because of the location of the stump or the cost involved. An alternative is to burn the stump and fill in the area with soil.

If you decide to burn the stump, salt peter or a stump-killer should be placed in the holes you have drilled. The holes should be in the main stump and in the "fangs". Salt peter is available in many garden supply stores, where it is sold as a fertilizer.

Once the stump-killing material has been applied, pour hot water into the holes. This treatment will dissolve the material and in solution it will be distributed all through the stump. As the water is dissipated, more must be added to keep the holes full until all the stump-killer is gone.

This treatment will prevent the stump from bursting into flames when it is burned and will keep it smoldering until nothing is left except the wood ash.


If you plan to burn the remaining stump, it will be necessary to obtain a fire permit before burning is begun. Information on local regulations can be obtained and a site inspection may be required. For environmental and fire hazard reasons, authorities are more lenient on issuance of permits between the months of October and May.


When tree sap travel from root to leaves or is circulating, it travels up and down the main trunk. There is practically no sideways movement. It is necessary, therefore, to be sure the holes are spaced diagonally around the trunk, to ensure a full treatment.


Back to Home Page

Return to LibraryBack to Home Page