When and Why You Should Remove a Tree Stump

Paige Bennett
Written by Paige Bennett
Updated March 3, 2022
A front view of a house
Photo: Sharon / Adobe Stock

Highlights

  • Tree stumps may invite pests as they rot.

  • Stumps are dangerous to kids and pests.

  • Remove tree stumps early to avoid spreading decay.

  • Pros may grind, burn, or chemically remove stumps.

Get quotes from up to 3 pros!
Enter a zip below and get matched to top-rated pros near you.

Whether you’ve experienced a bad storm that felled a tree in your yard or you just want a little more sunshine and less shade over your flower garden, you may decide to remove a tree from your landscape. But then comes the question: to remove or not remove the stump? Stump removal will add to the cost, but there are reasons why you shouldn’t delay removing the entire tree. Here’s why you should remove a tree stump, when to do it, and who to call on for help.

Reasons to Remove a Tree Stump

You might take a liking to the cute tree stump in your yard, or perhaps your kids love to play on it. But over time, tree stumps pose several problems to the health of your lawn and the safety of your property.

Decay

Tree stumps and their root systems will begin to rot and decay over time. Fungi or mold that grows on the stump can be dangerous to your family’s health. The rotting root system may also spread the infection to other trees or plants in your yard, leaving you with a barren, zombie garden.

Pests

A rotting tree stump will invite pests, but even a stump that has yet to start decaying will provide a cozy habitat for termites, ants, beetles, and other insects. Then, you could be stuck with some added extermination costs if the termites and other wood-boring insects make their way from the front-yard stump to the inside of your home.

Safety

Kids and pets may love to run around your yard and jump over the stump, but they can be just one short leap away from a broken leg. Stumps can be hazards to adults, too, if you’re walking through the yard at night and trip over them.

Space

If you removed a large tree from your yard, the stump could take up prime real estate better suited for a seating area, a gazebo, or a flower garden.

Curb Appeal

Even if you find a tree stump charming, your neighbors might think it unsightly, especially once it begins to rot.

Lawn Maintenance

Mowing the lawn is already a pain; now imagine maneuvering around a stump when you’re trying to cut the grass. Tree stumps and their root systems can also lead to new shoots that require more of your time to remove.

When to Remove a Tree Stump

A man removing stump with large roots
Photo: AlexanderDenisenko / Adobe Stock

It takes about 4 to 7 years for the stump to start decaying, but before then, the root system may start growing new shoots on or around the stump. If you’re hiring a local tree removal service to fell a tree in your yard, it’s best to have the stump removed at the same time. If you don’t have the budget for both tree and stump removal, you’ll want to remove the stump as soon as possible after felling the tree to prevent damage to your lawn and home.

Hire a Tree Removal Specialist

Hiring a stump removal pro costs about $300 to $500, depending on the tree stump removal option you choose. Additionally, hiring a local tree stump removal specialist is the safest way to remove a stump. A professional will fully remove the tree stump and root system to prevent decay from spreading. 

Grinding

For larger stumps and stumps that you can’t fully remove, grinding is a viable option. It won’t remove the root system, though, which can damage your home’s foundation. Stump grinding takes about one hour, and you’ll want a pro to handle this in case there are utility lines in the ground around the stump or roots.

Burning and Chemical Removal

Burning a tree stump helps weaken it for easier removal, but it does take longer than grinding the stump. A pro will drill holes into the stump and fill it with a fire starter, such as potassium nitrate, followed by hot water. After a few days, the stump removal specialist will ignite the stump, which will smolder. Once the flames have subsided, the specialist can then remove the weak stump.

By Hand

For smaller stumps, you or a tree removal specialist can dig out the stump manually. You can carefully dig around the stump to remove it and the root system using a shovel. Even if you choose to burn or grind the stump, you’ll need to remove the remaining parts of the stump and roots by hand.

Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.