How to Remove a Pesky Tree Stump With a Chainsaw

Chainsaw newbies should pass on this one

D.P. Taylor
Written by D.P. Taylor
Updated April 20, 2022
A woman lumberjack cutting a tree stump with a chainsaw
Photo: sturti / E+ / Getty Images
Difficulty

Intermediate

Perfect for handy homeowners.

Time to complete

4 hours

Mostly for digging and pulling out the stump.

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What you'll need:

TOOLS

  • Chainsaw
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Shovel
  • Garden trowel
  • Gardening gloves
  • Garden shears
  • Machete
  • Saw

SUPPLIES

  • Hearing protection
  • Eye protection
  • Helmet

There are many reasons to remove a tree stump from your property. You may find it unsightly, or perhaps you’re hoping to do some landscaping in that area and the stump is in the way. But before you fire up that chainsaw and get to work, know that this is a dangerous DIY for the inexperienced.

Unless you're skilled and confident handling a chainsaw, it's best to hire a pro. After all, you’re dealing with sharp angles and awkward positions that take precision and experience. Meet those qualifications? Follow the steps below to remove a tree stump.

4 Steps to Remove a Stump With a Chainsaw

This project is a lot of effort, but the actual process is fairly straightforward.

  1. Prep the Stump for Removal

    To ensure your safety and the safety of those around you, only take on this DIY if you've done similar projects in the past and have handled a chainsaw before. Otherwise, hire a pro who can get the job done quickly and without issue.

    If you do have the experience, you'll need gloves, hearing protection, a face shield, and safety goggles. You'll also want to wear a long-sleeved shirt, pants, and steel-toed boots.

    Prepare the area to safely and efficiently remove the tree stump. To do that, you're going to want to clear as much dirt from around the stump as possible using a shovel. Once you've removed most of the dirt, get a small garden trowel and remove even more dirt between the roots until you have exposed as much of the roots as you possibly can.

  2. Make the Initial Cuts

    After putting on protective gear, fire up the chainsaw and cut deep slices into the stump using a criss-cross pattern. This will break up the stump as much as possible to make removal a bit easier.

    But be careful! Going in too hard and too fast may break the chain on your chainsaw. Do this step slowly and methodically.

  3. Cut Up the Roots

    Use the chainsaw to slice through and break up the roots as much as you can. Be careful not to make contact with the ground as the dirt can cause damage to your chainsaw. (That’s why it’s important to dig out as much dirt as possible!)

  4. Remove the Stump With Other Tools

    With the stump and roots in pieces, it should be a lot easier to pry them out with the shovel and put the debris in a wheelbarrow for disposal. If you are still having trouble, you might try more precise cuts using garden shears, a saw, or a machete. 

    Keep in mind that you may never be able to remove all of the pieces of the stump or roots entirely, but you should be able to get enough out of the ground to cover the rest with dirt.

DIY Tree Stump Removal vs. Hiring a Pro

If you have experience using a chainsaw, this is a perfectly good project to tackle. However, there are good reasons to consider hiring a tree removal professional near you.

For one thing, this project may take up your entire Saturday. So if you’d rather be doing something else with your weekend, this is a good project to pass on to someone else. There are safety concerns; you’re dealing with chainsaws here, so if you’re not 100% confident, hiring an experienced professional may be a better idea.

Another good reason to hire a pro is you’re really not saving much money doing it yourself. The cost of tree stump removal is only about $100 to $150.

Additional Questions

What is the most affordable way to get rid of a tree stump?

Probably the most cost-efficient way to remove a tree stump is to use epsom salts, which help accelerate the rotting process making it easier to remove by hand once nature has taken its course.

Is it better to grind a stump or remove it?

Grinding is a more efficient way to deal with a tree stump, although it won't remove it entirely. It will also produce chips that you can use as mulch.

Do trees grow back after stump grinding?

Yes, trees can grow back after a grinding, because grinding leaves the roots in the soil. It's not common, but if the nutrients are there, it may start to sprout again.

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Get quotes from top-rated pros.