How to rot a stump

misslisamhamNovember 11, 2012

I've just bought a house and found in the yard a box elder stump. The previous owner says it was cut down years ago, but it hasn't rotted much at all--still extremely hard to cut through. It's right over a gas line, so we can't stump grind it. And I don't want to use anything remotely toxic. Any tips for how to speed up the decomposition? I'm on the California Coast, so we're just heading into rainy season. So far I have:

- dug the stump out and exposed it to air

- hacked at it with a pick

- sawed off some thick roots

- covered it in the remains of another rotted tree, in hopes of bringing in some mycorrhizae


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
albert_135(Sunset 2 or 3)

I found this on the GW's landscape design forum Removing a Tree Stump with HIgh-Nitrogen using ~ rot stump gardenweb ~ as my search terms.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 1:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Buddy......get a tiger torch (20 lb propane) from a freind and some sort of steele covering to harness the heat drill some holes in the stump as deep as you can dump it full of gas or diesel and set it on fire and let it burn down.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 11:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Get a big bag of charcoal and soak some in charcoal liter and put it on the stump, light it up. The hot coals will burn it out. You can add fire wood as needed to keep the hot coals up. You can also use an electric fan to blow on the hot coals to speed up the burn. If it a big stump you may have to remove some of the ash and start again. I burned many stomps out like this. Give it a try. Let us know what you used.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2013 at 1:40AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

I don't think I'd get hot coals anywhere near a gas line.

To rot more quickly, the stump should stay moist as often as possible. Anything green (as being the opposite of brown, in terms of decomposition) that you can pile on and maintain contact with the stump will help accomplish that, and speed the decomposition process by providing the nitrogen necessary to compliment the stump's carbon. Cut grass, kitchen scraps, will help it decompose more quickly. In the fall, covering it with a pile of leaves will speed the decomposition over winter by retaining moisture.

If you have a drill, put holes in the stump to expose more surface area to decomposition organisms, moisture and oxygen. I hope you are thinking in terms of years, it will take that long to rot.

If the stump will support a pot, you can put a potted plant there that you water often, until the top surface of the stump gets too craggy and crumbly to hold it.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 5:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Here is a way to enjoy the view while it is being broken down:

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 2:49PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Oh that looks nice, and rotting nicely! I usually let sweet potato vine climb on/around my stump. It won't hold a pot anymore, but used to.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 2:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Plug the stump full of mushroom spawn. Oyster mushrooms will eat it up and you'll get mushrooms to harvest.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2014 at 11:49AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have heard that pouring fertilizer down into drilled holes will accelerate the rotting action considerably. Also, covering it with earth to keep the little bugs and microbes working helps a lot. Keep it moist with a mulch cover even. If it dries out, the wood becomes more like petrified and will last a long time. Every time you pass by, piss on it to remind it who's in charge. So drill hole in top of stump and fill with a high nitrogen fertilizer. This is an organic way to rot stumps and will take about six months to work.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 5:55AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I get out my Sawzall (get a blade specifically for cutting wood), cut all the above-ground material, clear it away, then begin digging the dirt from the roots and cutting them with the Sawzall. A spade will pop the stump out, once you sever the tap root. I then fill in the area with garden soil, plant grass seed and forget about it.

I've removed 4 stumps just this spring - it takes a bit of work, but worth it!

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 8:53AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Pour sugar & nitrogen on it every time you can.

flat soft drinks
warm beer
yucky jellies or jams

My neighbor always poured a whole 4 pound bag of sugar on stumps & kept it damp.

Nitrogen could be grass clipppings or urine.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 4:07PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
changing user name
How does a member change his user name?
What is your favorite wall-mounted hose holder?
My front yard hose goes on the wall right next to the...
Make your own Seed Tape
Something to do on a cold Feb. day make your own seed...
Does Preen work?
I just planted several plants and was wondering if...
Natural way to get rid of ANTS???
Hello - I haven't seen Ants around in years but some...
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™