How to Remove a Tree Stump the Easy Way: Burn It Out

Updated on April 15, 2019
leon01 profile image

I have now removed several tree stumps from my garden over the years and found a very safe and hassle-free method of removing them.

The easy way to burn a tree stump.
The easy way to burn a tree stump.

With pine needles filling up the swimming pool for several weeks of the year and most of the garden in shade, our large thirty meter tall pine tree had to go. Initially, I removed all the accessible branches myself using a ten meter ladder and rope to venture up as high as I dared. . . then it was a professional's turn to go up higher and remove the remaining branches before the whole tree finally came tumbling down in the autumn of 2014.

We were left with a tree stump some forty centimeters high that was over a meter in diameter. First, we decided to put a large plant pot on top and to make it a feature of the garden. Unfortunately, over time, that feature in the middle of our lawn become more of a hindrance when it came to cutting the lawn or playing in the garden.

So after researching all the methods to remove a tree stump I opted for burning the stump away. The year before I removed two smaller tree stumps around 30 cms in diameter using the burn method so I was confident this was going to be the best option.


How to Burn Out a Tree Stump

  1. Initially, I dug down around the stump with a shovel to expose as much of the stump as possible and on one side actually managed to dig under the stump and exposed three very large roots holding the stump in place.
  2. I then drilled 12 mm holes all over the top of the stump, around the base and in to the roots taking the drill bit as deep as it would allow around 20 cms.
  3. Over the next two days, I poured kerosene into the holes and kept topping them up over that time while keeping the stump covered.
  4. On day three, it was time to burn that stump out. I surrounded the stump with thirty kilos of charcoal and then placed firewood on top of that and then got the whole thing alight. I prefer to use charcoal as the smaller particles could be placed under the stump in the hole created and would keep working there way down as the fire grew.
  5. In France, we are only allowed to build fires outside of the summer season and after 6 pm so it was late October that the burn began. I had looked at the weather forecast to see that I had four dry days followed by a lot of rain. This was perfect as the fire would not be dampened during the initial expected burn time and at the end the ground would be soaked to prevent any residue underground smoldering of any root systems.
  6. I always like to 'kill two birds with one stone' in whatever I do, so I took the opportunity to dismantle a very dilapidated wooden terrace to provide more fuel for the fire as the days passed.
  7. By the end of the first burn, the stump had reduced by 30%, and by the second day, 70% of the stump had been eaten away by the fire.
  8. At this point I was able to fit my metal incinerator over the stump and re-drilled holes over the remaining stump before filling the incinerator with an additional thirty kilos of charcoal before relighting the fuel again and closing the incinerator down with regards to air flow.
  9. For the next two days, the charcoal burnt away slowly and nothing was done on my part and once the charcoal was gone I was left with just a large crater—the entire stump and three main roots had all gone.

The garden looks so much bigger now the stump has gone and we are looking forward to seeing all the daffodils that were planted coming up this spring.

Overall, it was a very easy job removing the stump and in total cost me around £50 for the charcoal and lighter fluid.

As a word of warning: Before I began, I checked first the regulations of lighting a fire in my area, checked with my neighbor to make sure it was a good time for her, and continually checked on the fire and dampened down the surrounding soil with water to avoid an underground fire.

Video Tutorial

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers


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      • leon01 profile imageAUTHOR


        10 months ago

        It's a very effective way - I practised on a few smaller stumps beforehand, this was a very large stump over a meter wide

      • leon01 profile imageAUTHOR


        10 months ago

        I was aware of the possibility of a root fire that is why I watered the ground all the way around the stump

      • profile image


        10 months ago

        If you have many trees near each other you should avoid doing this! The fire will burn the roots out which is fine as long as they don’t make contact with other tree roots. The fire can literally spread to other trees underground and start a fire elsewhere.

      • profile image

        Stump Removal Northwest 

        14 months ago

        This looks like the most effective way to get all of the roots as well. We've had many clients try to burn their stumps and they still ended up call for us to grind them after because the stump did not completely burn and the roots were still in tact.

      • profile image


        15 months ago

        Thanks for the details! Read about method in a book awhile back and have a pesky stump in my front yard I need to remove!

      • greenmind profile image

        GreenMind Guides 

        3 years ago from USA

        This is a good entertaining hub about your decision to get rid of that tree. A couple more photos would be welcome!


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