How to Remove a Tree Stump the Easy Way: Burn It Out
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. I removed all the lower 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 to remove the remaining branches before the whole tree finally came tumbling down in the autumn.
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 to make it a decorative feature, but over time, it became more of a hindrance when it came to cutting the lawn or playing in the garden.
So I opted for burning the stump away. I had removed two smaller tree stumps (around 30 cm in diameter) using the burn method so I was confident this method was going to be my best option.
How to Burn Out a Tree Stump
- Dig down around the stump with a shovel to expose as much of the stump as possible. On one side, I actually managed to dig under the stump and exposed three very large roots holding the stump in place.
- Drill some holes. I drilled 12 mm holes all over the top of the stump, around the bas, and into the roots, pushing the drill bit as deep as it would go (around 20 cms).
- Check the weather forecast and the calendar. Make sure it's okay to set fires at this time and that you'll have good weather. Here, we are only allowed to build fires outside of the summer season and after 6 p.m., so I burned my stump in late October. The weather forecast predicted four dry days followed by a lot of rain, and this was perfect, as the fire would not be dampened while it did its work and at the end, the rain would douse any underground smoldering of root systems.
- Soak with kerosene. For two days, I poured kerosene into the holes and kept topping them up over that time to make sure the fuel penetrates as deeply as possible.
- Burn it. On day three, it was time to burn that stump out. I surrounded the stump with thirty kilos of charcoal, put firewood on top of that, and set it all on fire. I prefer to use charcoal as the smaller particles can fit under the stump to help the fire reach down below the stump. I always like to 'kill two birds with one stone,' so I took the opportunity to dismantle a very dilapidated wooden terrace to provide more fuel for the fire as the days passed.
- Control the fire. While the fire was burning, I continually checked it and dampened the surrounding soil with a hose to avoid an underground fire.
- Give it time. By the end of the first day, the stump had been reduced by 30%, and by the end of the second day, 70% of the stump had been eaten away by the fire. I let it burn four days total.
- Add more fuel. I was able to fit my metal incinerator over the stump and re-drill holes over the remaining stump before filling the incinerator with an additional thirty kilos of charcoal, relighting the fuel again, and closing the incinerator.
- When the stump is gone, let the fire burn out. For the next two days, the charcoal burnt away slowly. Once the charcoal was gone I was left with just a large crater—the entire stump and three main roots had all gone.
Overall, it was a very easy job removing the stump and in total cost me around £50 for the charcoal and lighter fluid. The garden looks so much bigger now the stump has gone and we are looking forward to seeing the daffodils that we planted coming up this spring.
As a word of warning: Before I began, I checked the local regulations for lighting fires in my area and checked with my neighbor to make sure it was a good time for her.
Never Leave a Fire Unattended
Check with your local fire department to learn more about the specific regulations and guidelines for controlled burns in your area.
Other Ways to Remove a Stump
If you'd rather avoid fire, here are three different articles showing different methods of stump removal:
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.