3 ways to remove tree stumps

For general FAQs about removing tree stumps, visit our FAQ page.

Getting rid of tree stumps can be a tricky task but here are the three most common methods for removing unsightly stumps.

Digging out tree stumps – A how-to guide.

Digging out is best suited to small or medium-sized stumps, as the process can be very time-consuming. Larger stumps can be dug out but you would most likely require the use of a digger/excavator.

When digging out a stump, either by hand or with a digger/excavator, the best technique is as follows:

  1. Dig around the circumference of the stump, exposing the lateral roots.
  2. Cut/Sever the roots using a mattock, loppers, or hand saw (be aware soil or rocks surrounding the roots may blunt your saw).
  3. Pull out and clear as many of the larger roots as possible.
  4. Lever the stump backwards and forwards to access the roots below.
  5. Continue to remove the roots until you can dislodge the stump.
  6. Fill the hole to avoid any accidents immediately.

How to poison a tree stump using a Stump Removal Chemical.

Let us be clear, treating the stump with poison will never remove it, but it will prevent any regrowth and may speed up the breakdown/stump rotting process.

The majority of chemical stump removers are composed of either potassium nitrate or granular glyphosate and are supplied as either a loose powder or in a plug form, commonly known as Ecoplugs. The benefit of using plugs is that the chemicals are contained within the stump, so they do not pose a risk to children, animals or surrounding vegetation.

Whichever form you choose to use, the application method is often very similar:

  1. Drill large, evenly spaced holes around the cambium (This is the line where the bark meets the core wood). If using Ecoplugs, use a 13mm drill bit and drill to 25-30mm depth. TIP: Wrap some tape around the drill bit to ensure the correct drilling depth.
  2. Apply the poison by either carefully pouring it into the holes or inserting the plugs’ orange tips first and hitting them into place with a hammer. The top of the plug should sit flush with the stump.
  3. If using loose poison, be sure to keep children and animals away from the area. If ingested, the chemicals can be very harmful.

*Please check the instructions on each product before use, as directions may vary.

Grinding out a tree stump – Our guide to stump grinding.

Using a stump grinder is by far the most efficient way to remove stumps of all shapes and sizes. They use several cutting teeth fixed to a spinning flywheel to carve the stump into small wood chippings. These chippings can then be used to backfill the hole left behind.

Stump grinders can often be rented from plant and tool hire companies, but these are dangerous machines and must be used correctly. You should always wear the correct PPE and thoroughly read the instruction manual. Alternatively, you can hire a professional stump removal contractor (such as Surrey Stump Services) to come and grind the stump for you.

How to grind a stump:

  1. Read the manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. Position the stump grinder with the cutting wheel above the front top edge of the stump.
  3. Start the stump grinder following the manufacturers’ instructions.
  4. Begin carving into the stump on the top edge, sweeping left to right, slowly progressing to your desired depth into the ground. The industry standard grinding depth is between 250-300mm.
  5. Once you are happy with the depth, you can backfill the hole and move forward to the next section of the stump.
  6. Repeat steps 4 & 5 until the stump has been completely removed.
  7. You can also use the grinder to remove/chase out any lateral roots but be aware they may have a large spread. In addition, once the main buttress of the stump has been removed, the roots will rot down naturally.
  8. Remember to fill the hole with the grinding material to avoid any accidents. TIP: If you leave a slight mound of the grinding material above the hole, this will allow for the breakdown of the wood chippings so it will level out over time.

If you would like to hire Surrey Stump Services to quickly and efficiently remove your stumps, contact us today to arrange a free, no-obligation quotation.

For other tree surgery tasks, including tree felling and tree pruning, please contact Guildford Tree Surgeons.

For landscaping services, including driveways, fencing and decking, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our landscaping company Surrey Landscape Gardeners.

We provide straightforward, fixed quotations to help you budget and can advise you on the best course of action prior to starting work.

If a site visit isn’t possible, we can also provide accurate estimates through the use of photos, dimensions and descriptions.


A very reliable and trustworthy company. They removed the stump while I was at work and tidied the garden so well I wouldn’t have know they had been if the stump wasn’t gone!!?

Joe Tomms, Godalming

Very Professional and competitively priced.

Tilly May, Kingston Upon Thames