Decorating the stump (Looking for suggestion)

EGO45(6bCT)March 17, 2007

This winter I had to remove fairly large tree in a front of the house, which accordinghly left me with a large stump (4'+ in diameter) in a highly visible spot:

While it may take 3-4-5 years before it will decompose, something should be done to mask this eyesore.

In most cases, where much smaller stumps were involved, I simply placed one or two large rocks on top of them and planted something around. Work as a charm.

I don't think it will work in this case because stump is so large that it will look just like a pile of rocks when/if I cover it completely. On another side, area past stump toward the driveway sloping significantly and if I add soil in front of the stump without building a retaining wall of some sort it will be washed out in a first rain.

I have several large Euonymus fortunei 'Emerald Gaiety' shrubs grown as a groundcover and wouldn't mind to relocate any of them there, but would like to hear your's ideas first, knowing how many creative people we have here :-)))

Oh, BTW, may I plant something in a rotten center of the stump? The same Euonymus perharps?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ellen_s(z5 centralMA)

Ego45, it may sound like a crazy idea but have you thought of letting moss grow on it? and surrounding it with some low plants that would contrast nicely with the moss. Is it sun or shade?
I have an old tree stump which in summer I put a huge Boston Fern (which I keep indoors in winter) - it covers the stump and looks nice. Or you could just put planters onto it for a few years until surrounding plants cover it.

Be careful with the Eonymous fortunei. I have it on my property and after a few years it is starting to take over. I started ripping it out this year and it ended up a huge job because its roots got into surrounding shrubs and plants. It reminded me of my fight with Bishops Goutweed so it's got to go! Noticed recently that it was on the invasives list for at least one of the New England states (I think it was MA but maybe NH).

BTW I like the stone wall in the background!

    Bookmark   March 17, 2007 at 2:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
vtskiers(z6a CentralCT)

George, I'm going to turn a large stump into a planter this year. Using some sort of chicken wire type material, I'm going to build a cage the same diameter as the stump and attach it to the stump. Then I'll line the cage with spagnum moss, fill with potting soil and plant away. Worth a try, I figure.


    Bookmark   March 17, 2007 at 2:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
runktrun(z7a MA)

As much as I am sure your Euonymus fortunei 'Emerald Gaiety' would be wonderful in this location, I wonder if you are missing out on a great opportunity to better use your new little micro-climate. I recall reading somewhere that larger tree stumps re-radiate the heat that they have absorbed during the day throughout chilly evenings. Could this be a good spot for one of those beautiful zone pushers you have been itching to try? How has the light changed in this spot? Are you now a full sun gardener?

    Bookmark   March 17, 2007 at 3:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bostongardens(z6 MA)

"While it may take 3-4-5 years before it will decompose, <....>"

Hi George,

More than 10 years ago, we had a white pine cut down in front of our house. The stump looked like yours.

It's still there! Falling apart, but still visible.

At the time, we planted a picea in a wooden half-barrel planter and placed it on top of the stump. The planter is now decomposing and we're trying to decide what to do. For all we know, the bottom of the planter has rotted and the picea roots have grown into the slowly decomposing stump. The picea looks great. We may just place/stack large rocks around the barrel. Or, we may try to re-plant the picea into a fake half-barrel (made of plastic? not sure...)

But, we are amazed at how long the stump has persevered in our Greater Boston, Zone 6 region.

Maybe something to consider in your region?

~ Hilda

    Bookmark   March 17, 2007 at 4:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi George,
That stump may be with you for a long, long time. I have one left from 20 years ago that is just starting to rot away now.

When the tree was first cut down I put the largest whiskey barrel I could find on top of it. Filled it with miracle grow potting mix and have put plants in it every year.
I have hanging ones grow down the edge of the sides and put different kinds of annuals in it every year.
It has a rustic type look to the stump with the sides of it showing only.

In the fall, before snow hits the ground, I put evergreen branches in it and just leave it at that.

A neighbor did the same thing and put lots of vinca around the ground on it, like I did. The flowers bloom several times during the spring, summer and fall and it's in an area that has no problem with it spreading.

Heres a pic of last year's whiskey barrel with wintersown plants in it, trailing vinca, datura, and cosmos and marigolds.


    Bookmark   March 17, 2007 at 4:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Grind it out, if it's reachable... not that expensive to rent a grinder

    Bookmark   March 18, 2007 at 8:02AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you all for your suggestions.
Please keep them coming, maybe I'll find something along the lines. :-)))

    Bookmark   March 18, 2007 at 11:21AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

I remember you have a bunch of climbing hydrangeas - do you have a pup or two you could plant in or around the stump? Eventually you'd have to move them, but it would take a number of years before they really get out-of-bounds.

Alternatively a sweet Autumn clematis in a groundcover mode would fill in nicely.


    Bookmark   March 18, 2007 at 11:51AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Vinca minor is not native, but while it's persistent, it doesn't necessarily spread aggressively. It also grows well in either sun or shade, and has few pests. The blue flowers are lovely in the spring. It also grows thickly enough to keep most weeds out.

There are other ground covers that will work, too. (Disclaimer: I'm no fan of the genus Euonymous. Just not my aesthetic.)

I also think you ought to be able to plant something in the rotting core, particularly if you mixed some soil in.

Oh, if that spot is now going to be much sunnier than it was your Rhododendron will want looking after as well. The extra sun will come as a shock to the plant, so don't be surprised if the old leaves burn a bit and drop off early. Unless your rhody is particularly intolerant of sunlight, it will probably readjust within the year. Make sure to keep it watered if this turns out to be a dry year or it will probably suffer more than it should.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2007 at 11:57AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Claire, thanks, but beside the size, winter sceleton of H.petiolaris is NOT a site to behold :-(((

York_rose, thanks for the warning, but lighting/growing conditions had not been changed, tree was already limbed up. Rhodie is 'Nova Zembla' which would of be even happier if there will be more sun available to him :-(
It was and still part shade bed with 2 hours of early morning and 1 hour of late afternoon sun.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2007 at 12:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mayalena(6 - MetroWest Boston)

I do remember somewhere a pic of some bulbs growing out of a tree stump. I believe the owner hollowed out the rotten core, filled it with compost and bulbs. You would certainly have to choose a bulb squirrels don't like, tho.... And what to hide the foliage later?

    Bookmark   March 18, 2007 at 1:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
terrene(5b MA)

I agree with others that the stump will be around for a LOT longer than a few years. Particularly if it is the stump of a hardwood like Oak. That wood is unbelievably dense.

Part of my gardens are located in an area that the former owner had large mature trees. She cut them down 5 years ago and had the stumps grinded. Most of them were pines, but one was a large Oak. Even though the Oak stump was ground down 4 inches below the surface, it is so hard and dense, I can't grow a thing there. I decided to cover up the area with wood chips and put one of the bird baths on top of it.

A planter would look nice on your stump, or perhaps a bird bath?

    Bookmark   March 18, 2007 at 2:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yes, if it wood be an oak or pine or hemlock, stump will be in place for a long time,
Fortunately it was a Black birch and, as my previous experience with this particular tree's stumps suggesting, in 4 to 5 years it will be no issue at all.
Here is the picture of the bed that was built 5-6 years ago around similar size stump in a center

    Bookmark   March 18, 2007 at 3:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

George, turn it into a planter. I am going to email you pictures of a stump garden I planted when an old cherry tree fell down. I can't figure out how to post a pic on the forum. /Abi

    Bookmark   March 18, 2007 at 6:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
triciae(Zone 7 Coastal SE CT)

George, last Saturday I had a just slightly smaller maple cut down on our property that we'd given up trying to save. The crown was dying & the entire tree was dangerous. This week, I had the stump drilled out. It only cost $75 and the guy hauled away all of the chips.

I'd recommend just getting rid of the stump rather than trying to disquise it for years...


    Bookmark   March 18, 2007 at 7:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Well then, how about putting a flashy gazing ball on the stump rather than hiding it.

flashy garden globe

Claire (mostly kidding, but maybe not)

    Bookmark   March 18, 2007 at 8:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

First rule for architects remodeling old dwellings, 'Can't hide something, show it off' :-)))

If anything else wouldn't work, I might end up doing what you just said. I'll keep it as a my last resort.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2007 at 8:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
diggerdee zone 6 CT

Hi George!

These are from Abi:


    Bookmark   March 18, 2007 at 9:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
hostasz6a(z6a MA)

I had an oak removed ten years ago and being oak, the stump is still there. I have a large saucer type bird bath sitting on top. It was a lazy solution, but now grass grows around the stump and crocus come up in the spring. However, my stump is not in such an obvious location. It is also near my bird feeders. I think in your case, I would grind it. I would think the roots left on that island would make it difficult to plant anything.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2007 at 9:58PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Very impressive, Abi!
You are quite an artist!!!
Dee, thanks for helping us to see such great creations.

Here is my 'piece of art' (in progress) :-))

I'm thinking to 'throw' rocks there in a free pattern, but in the way they could serve purpose of retaining wall for the soil I'll fill in. Cover the top of the stump with garden fabric. Then I'm thinking to plant whatever appropriate size wise will be in a pockets of soil between rocks and then cover everything with a heavy layer of mulch.
Decorative pot with shade-loving annuals on top for a summer and....I think it should work year around.
What do you think?

    Bookmark   March 18, 2007 at 10:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Reporting on a progress. This is still work in progress, so criticism will be accepted with gratitude. And my plants have a wheels, you know. :-))

March-early April


Nothing, except one fairly large 'Brandford Beauty' athurium fern (not shown) and clump of helebores of unknown origin (white bloom) was left in that bed.
What is there now: in a background Hinoki cypress with bright yellow tips on a new foliage (cultivar unknown), Inaba Shidare jap. maple in mushroom/umbrella shape, Picea pungens 'R.H.Montgomery', Abies koreana 'Prostrate Beauty', baby Abies koreana 'Silberlocke' (temporary placement, 99% will be not there the next year).
Stump itself is covered by E.fortunei 'Emerald Gaiety', as was planned, inside the big hole of the stump I placed 5G container with Lysimachia clethroides - Gooseneck Loosestrife, the only way I could afford to have it in my garden. Pockets of soil between rocks were filled with different ericas and perennials such as gentiana scabra and g.septemfida, geranium sanguineum 'Max Frei', tricyrtis hirta 'Miyazaki', sedums sieboldii (October Daphne) and 'Angelina', my beloved truly dwarf goatsbeard (Aruncus aethusifolius), non-invasive small white carex, Hakonechloa (Hakone grass) 'Aureola', some miniature hostas and at the very bottom spreading groundcover astilbe chinensis 'Pumila' (which will be thinned/controlled as needed).
Every single plant was relocated from the different parts of garden with a different lighting and watering conditions, but so far every one of them doing good.
Still this bed have plenty of space for small (12-15" tall x 12-15") wide clumpers. Technicaly it's a part shade (only three to three and a half hours of direct sun, but since the rest of the day it's in open bright shade it could accomodate a lot of different plants. Basicly I'm looking for contrasting shapes and colors of the leaves and less concerned about the blooms.
All suggestions are welcome.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2007 at 12:30AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
whitegarden(Z5 MA)

That looks awesome! What a great job.

My favorites for shady locations - hosta, astilbe, dicentra.


    Bookmark   June 11, 2007 at 8:45AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
runktrun(z7a MA)

That looks great I cant believe how many plants you have been able to plant in that space. I love how the E. fortunei has happily taken over your stump. Your Japanese Maple and Montgomery Spruce with clematis in the far background is magnificent. I was glad to hear your gooseneck is in a pot I have been trying for eight years to eradicate mine. I stopped at a nursery while travelling this weekend and saw that there is now a pink variety, which considering it's aggressiveness in New England I was shocked to see. I redesigned my back garden this year with the sole focus on the leaf. So far what I have taken away from my little experiment is how much is added to the garden when light is captured in either a large or shiny leaf, it creates a bright spot where immediately the eye is drawn. I am also having fun with a large bed of sedum 'Atumn Joy' that hold water in the cups of it's leaves attracting humming and other small birds. I am also enjoying Melianthus major 'Purple Haze' for it's early morning display of dew on it's leaves. I have learned to date that in the future I will choose more insect resisted large leaved plants as there is nothing uglier than large shredded leaves, I have two varieties of rhubarb one curly leaved the other very large leaved and the large leaved has struggled with mites disfiguring the leaves while the curly leaf is pristine...go figure.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2007 at 9:33AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
giboosi_alttara(z6 CT)

George, you need more big leaves. Put some hostas in there!

    Bookmark   June 11, 2007 at 10:46AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
whitegarden(Z5 MA)

Yep, add some hostas!

    Bookmark   June 11, 2007 at 7:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Alttara, yeah, right...more hostas. LOL.
All yours had been planted, some in a nursery beds, some found the permanent (haha!) space in borders and beds and for some (those yellows with a waivy margins and elongated leaves. What is the name of the parent?) I even had to create a special place to show them off.
Now thanks to you I have more than 200 hostas (or is that 300?) around the garden....and it seems like I could accomodate some more if I continue to be as creative as I was last time. LOL.
Keep going on your breeding programme, now you know where all your imperfections will be taken with gratitude!

    Bookmark   June 11, 2007 at 10:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
giboosi_alttara(z6 CT)

It's not as a simple as a parent... I could tell you the named hostas I used to start the lines some 3 generations back, but otherwise they are seedlings of seedlings of seedlings, for the most part. I'm so glad they found a happy home, and yeah, you bet I will have more to pass on if not later this season, then next. (Actually, I could have kept digging but ran out of time, and for right now haven't gotten caught up with planting the new ones.)

Hopefully by next month I'll have a free moment, and can pop in for a visit!

But I do really think you need a few hostas in this stump bed! Or possibly brunnera... something with large leaves.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2007 at 10:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
saypoint(6b CT)

Great job, George. I've been looking for G. 'Max Frei', where did you find it?

    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 6:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Jo, last year Max Frei was available at our local HD (Fairfield). I believe it was a CT grown by Clinton Nurseries, 860-669-8611, so you may want to contact them and see who is their retailer in your area.
I like MF, but it blooms for me only once, though for almost two months, while G. sanguineum 'Alpenglow' (all conditions being equal) bloom almost continuosly from late May till October with a short rest in August.
On another side, fall foliage color of MF is brighter red than of AG.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2007 at 12:01AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
saypoint(6b CT)

Thanks, George. The HD in Waterford has a really lousy selection. I live right up the road from Clinton Nursery, I'll give them a call. Someone in the neighborhood must have it.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2007 at 10:58AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bean_counter_z4(Zone 4, Rkfd,IL)

Treat it like garden art;~)

    Bookmark   June 21, 2007 at 10:01AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Deer resistant evergreen shrub
Was wondering if you have any suggestions for an evergreen...
Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2015 #3
This thread is intended to give people a place to post...
claireplymouth z6b coastal MA
Flora at THBG
I think this exhibition of flowers and flower arrangements...
Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b
How to change houzz background
I just saw this on another forum: It...
claireplymouth z6b coastal MA
What Trees in Your Yard Look Prettiest Now?
We tend to fixate on Spring blooms. What trees in your...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™