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Non-toxic method of killing a stump?

Posted by surfcityhb 10b, Sunset 24 (My Page) on
Thu, Jan 27, 11 at 14:52

We unfortunately have to have two large eucalyptus trees removed, but because of the lack of access (too close to the house), we can't have the stumps removed.

Is there a non-toxic, or non-chemical way to kill the stumps that won't poison the soil or harm any birds or other creatures? One of the eucalypts being removed had suddenly started to die just recently anyway, so I think it probably had the psyllid (it was brown), or perhaps it drowned from the rain (other plants that drowned from the rain died green), and so I probably don't have to worry about that one. Will they die naturally from being cut down or will they sprout? (They're eucaplyptus nicholii.)


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Non-toxic method of killing a stump?

How high from the ground is the stump?

FWIW -- I've gotten rid of almost ground-level stumps through my own "mad scientist" method. [1] Cover stump with bag[s] of fertilizer. [2]Cover with black plastic [3] Heap soil over the covered stump and surrounding area. [4] Plant a vine or other plant to cover the stump.

As I recall, it took about 2 years for the stump to rot away and become compost. I planted honeysuckle ... which grew like mad and became a whole 'nother problem. But when I dug out the honeysuckle, the tree stump had melted away to almost nothing. [few larger pieces, which broke away very easily, ditto for the root]

RE: Non-toxic method of killing a stump?

Can you have them ground? We've had stumps ground only a few feet from our fence line and it didn't do any damage to the surrounding area at all. The grinder the guy used was small enough to fit through our 36" wide gate also. Granted, giant eucalyptus might have been more than his machine could handle, but I can't imagine that his process would be inhibited by being close to a structure.

RE: Non-toxic method of killing a stump?

  • Posted by hoovb z9 Southern CA (My Page) on
    Fri, Jan 28, 11 at 13:33

The stump-killing chemical only needs to be applied to the stump itself, but it should be applied immediately after the stump is cut so that it is absorbed by the tree. Eucs take quite a long time to rot. If you can drill some large diameter holes in the top and add bloodmeal or ammonium nitrate or some other high-n fertilizer and then cover, that will help break them down a little faster. I have a couple of Eucs we cut down 10 years ago and they are still trying to come back. No way we can get a stump grinder to the area.

RE: Non-toxic method of killing a stump?

Thank you for your responses! Great ideas!

Couldn't get a stump-grinder in to grind the stumps because one stump was inbetween two air conditioners and the space was too small for the machine to do its thing without damaging the air conditioners (they could barely get in there to cut the tree down--it was a dumb place to plant a tree...), and the other was adjacent to a tiny 2-foot walkway next to the house that wasn't big enough for the grinder to even fit onto. The stumps extend only about 2-4 inches above the ground.

Again, thank you for your great responses! Much appreciated!

RE: Non-toxic method of killing a stump?

If you get suckers growing, you can girdle them instead of cutting them off. That sometimes helps to kill a recalcitrant stump, but it takes a long time.

What about Potassium nitrate?

Potassium nitrate stump killer is not a poison. I don't think it's toxic. You drill holes in the stump and apply. You can look it up online. Then you water the stump a lot until it breaks down, but this will take years. It's a long term project.

Here is a link that might be useful: How to kill a stump with Potassium nitrate

RE: Non-toxic method of killing a stump?

If you don't want anything to grow there affterward and the space is contained, you could consider salting it so heavily it makes the soil toxic. Some prefer rock salt or epsom salts, make sure the runoff won't harm other plants.

RE: Non-toxic method of killing a stump?

Chicken poop is also high nitrogen, and non-toxic

RE: Non-toxic method of killing a stump?

FYI - our Euc that we cut back to inches above ground last spring is over 20' tall now. I did not want it dead, just had to be taken down due to height & damaged limbs.

Now I chop & drop tons of biomass from the suckers, but I let a few go that I will coppice for wood when they reach 6-inch diameter.

Anyway, I think most of the above methods are viable. I wouldn't salt my land. And I don't think epsom salt will kill most plants, except in massive quantities. It is used as a fertilizer for many plants.

Innoculating the whole thing with compost tea and fungi would help the whole process along. I'd use compost, urine or manure, covered by a pile of wood chips, lots of water and covered with a tarp.

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