So, from the householders view of his/her garden, why do you want to remove tree stumps anyway. Most of us are “green” conscious nowadays, and want to preserve our environment don’t we? Tree stumps do provide a natural setting, and promote insect life which is the first rung in the food chain ladder isn’t it? By saving a tree stump you could be allowing all sorts of fauna to feed in your garden. If a stump is big enough you could also make a feature out of it, like a seat, a table, or a carving of some sort.. I read somewhere of a stump supporting a TV or radio mast. Stumps can be useful, so why get rid of them!
OK, now for the practicalities of “real world” garden keeping:
- Any decaying wood in a garden environment is a sure invitation to fungal attack which may be the dreaded honey fungus. Both the Royal Horticultural Society and the Forestry Commission advocate stump removal
- You have plans for your garden and stumps are in the way
- You have damaged your lawn mower because of a stump
- Stumps are a trip/slip hazard
- You want a clean, unblemished look to your lawn
- You want a flat, level surfaced dig it out.
Now you have decided stumps must go, how are you going to do it? Well, you could dig it out. I won’t begin to describe the obvious strain on yourself. So, here are your other options from practical to ridiculous:
- Chemical Degradation. Practical if you are patient with time on your side. You could assist the decaying process by drilling deep holes and fill them with potassium nitrate (saltpeter) to accelerate rotting. After a few months you could axe out the rotten wood. Don’t try this on a freshly cut stump. It will only work on old seasoned stumps. (more delay) A potentially dangerous followup would be to pour paraffin or kerosene (never gasoline) to soak into the stump remains. Wait until the liquid completely penetrates, (this could take weeks with even more delay) and set it alight. Having a large smoldering ember in your garden will need to be supervised.
- Accelerated Natural Decay.Practical, with even more time on your side, as this is a process which can take a number of years, and requires monitoring. It involves enriching the natural resources around a stump to promote the decay process through soil aeration, stump aeration (exposing a larger stump surface area shielded from the sun). This will maintain moist conditions, complemented by the addition of soil nitrates.
- Mechanical Extraction. This is practical for a small number of small stumps,( If you don’t mind the large footprint it leaves behind on the landscape.) This may be impractical for large stumps owing to the size of the equipment needed, and only If you have the approach access, and space to manoeuvre heavy pulling/lifting equipment. Trenching or soil sawing machinery will be useful to sever stump roots around its periphery. Pre-saturating the soil with water will greatly reduce the amount of extraction force needed but does create messy conditions
- Burning. This is practical, but never totally successful. Stumps must be seasoned and dry before they will sustain burning. Some problems with this requirement is the moist soil conditions under the stump, and bark covering over the stump which retains moisture within.
- Water or Air Jetting This is impractical for the small garden. Water jetting is a very messy operation with soil saturation, and will also require a means to extract the stump in such conditions. Air jetting is less messy with just a shroud over the stump to control air-born dust, but does require a powerful, commercial, high volume compressor, and high pressure/velocity hose with nozzle.
- Blasting. This is effective but ridiculous here in the U.K.
- Stump Grinding Hampshire. A practical means of stump removal for all sized gardens with the availability of four types: handlebar machines; self-propelled machines; tow-behind machines; truck/tractor mounted machines Unless you have a large garden with good access, the most practical stump grinders are self-propelled, handlebar or small stump grinders designed to be hand-held. Stump grinding machinery is inherently dangerous and should only be performed by trained operatives. When you decide to call in a professional stump grinder be sure to first have all the details he will need to size up your requirements. They will include
- the number of stumps
- their diameters
- how wide your gate openings or side passages are to access the stumps
- if there are any sharp right-angled turns the stump grinder will need to make
- if the stumps are on level ground at the same level as your house
- if there are any above ground obstacles near the stumps (fencing, buildings etc.)
- if there is any below ground utilities buried near the stumps
To conclude: Whether or not you are the lucky possessor of a natural woodland within your garden, tree stump grinding is the answer to properly manage your precious garden by minimising likely fungal attack.