Tree stumps can be more than just an eyesore in your yard. They can pose a tripping hazard, interfere with mowing, and even give rise to the unwelcome prospect of new sprouts. Whether you’re looking to improve the aesthetics of your outdoor space, ensure safety, or prevent resprouting, getting rid of a tree stump is a worthwhile endeavor. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore various methods to kill a tree stump to help you regain control of your landscape.


Ways to Kill a Tree Stump

If you’re ready to take matters into your own hands, there are several DIY methods you can use to kill a tree stump. These methods are often more eco-friendly should you happen to be in an environmentally sensitive area or simply like to keep it green. Let’s explore three effective options: Epsom salt, rock salt, and boiling water.

 Epsom Salt

Epsom salt, chemically known as magnesium sulfate, is a natural and safe way to kill a tree stump. Here’s how you can use it:

  1. Drill several holes into the stump, making them roughly 10 inches deep and spaced evenly across the top.
  2. Fill each hole with Epsom salt, ensuring the salt reaches the bottom. Take care to not accidentally apply salt onto surrounding plants that you want to preserve.
  3. Water the stump to dissolve the Epsom salt but avoid overwatering to the point where the Epsom salt runs off.
  4. Cover the stump with a tarp, plastic sheet, or garbage bag to prevent rain and sprinklers from washing away the Epsom salt.
  5. Check the stump periodically and add more water if needed. Add more Epsom salt every 2-3 weeks.

This method helps remove stumps because although magnesium sulfate is beneficial for trees, such large quantities are toxic. This kills the remaining living tissue and causes the stump to decay over 6-12 months.

Rock Salt

Rock salt, also known as sodium chloride, can effectively kill a tree stump by dehydrating it. Here’s how to use it:

  1. Drill several holes into the stump, making them roughly 10 inches deep and spaced evenly across the top.
  2. Fill the holes with rock salt, ensuring it reaches the bottom of each hole.
  3.  Cover the stump with soil and organic mulch (e.g., wood chips).
  4. Water the soil and mulch pile to dissolve the salt. Rewater every few days or when the soil becomes dry.

Like the Epsom salt method, this process uses high salt concentration to kill off the tree stump. Fungi then come in and decay the dead wood, which is sped up by keeping the stump moist.

Boiling Water

If you prefer an entirely chemical-free approach, boiling water can help weaken the stump’s structure. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Drill several holes into the stump, as in the previous methods.
  2. Heat a large pot of water to boiling.
  3. Pour the boiling water into the holes.
  4. Cover the stump to keep the heat and moisture in.

Repeat this process several times, and the hot water will gradually break down the wood fibers, making it easier to remove the stump manually.

How to Physically Remove a Stump

While chemical and DIY methods work well for smaller stumps, larger or more stubborn stumps may require a professional approach. Stump grinding is a highly effective physical method for removing tree stumps.


Stump grinding involves the use of specialized machinery to grind the stump into wood chips, eliminating the entire stump and its root system. This method is efficient, leaving your landscape free of unsightly stumps and ready for replanting or other landscaping projects.

At A Plus Tree, we have the expertise and equipment to perform stump grinding safely and efficiently. Our skilled technicians will ensure the stump is ground down to a depth that allows for replanting or landscaping, leaving your yard looking pristine. Check out our page on stump and root grinding services to learn more!

Things You Shouldn’t Use to Kill a Tree Stump

While there are effective ways to kill tree stumps, there are also methods you should absolutely avoid due to their potential dangers and negative environmental impacts. Here are some of the methods you should steer clear of:

  1. Burning

Attempting to burn a tree stump can be extremely hazardous, as it can lead to uncontrolled fires, endangering your property and nearby vegetation. Moreover, many areas have regulations against open burning.

  1. Bleach

Pouring bleach onto a stump might seem like a straightforward solution, but it won’t effectively kill the stump and can harm the surrounding soil and plants.

  1. Diesel Fuel

Using diesel fuel can contaminate the soil and groundwater, posing significant environmental risks. This method can also kill desirable plants nearby and lead to long-term damage.

Dealing with tree stumps can be a challenging but necessary task for homeowners and landscapers alike. Whether you choose eco-friendly DIY methods like Epsom salt or rock salt, prefer a chemical-free approach with boiling water, or opt for the efficiency of stump grinding, there are safe and effective ways to remove these unwanted remnants from your outdoor space.

Remember that if you’re dealing with large or stubborn stumps, it’s best to consult with a professional tree care company to ensure the job is done safely and effectively. And always steer clear of dangerous and harmful methods that can harm your property and the environment. With the right approach, you can enjoy a stump-free, beautiful outdoor space once more!