How to Rot a Tree Stump Fast and Easily

When you cut a tree for whatever reason, be it to build, plant, or just need the extra space, you expect to take out the cut tree parts and be done with it, but this is not so. Anybody who had cut down a massive tree before knows what it takes to remove the tree stump from the ground.

It is common to find tree stumps still in the ground everywhere because of how challenging it is to remove them, especially for enormous trees. Leaving it in the soil is not the best option, though, as it is a recipe for accidents. So what do you do if you want to eradicate a tree in your yard?

You could use a tree stump grinder and grind the stump to bits right in the ground. This method is fast and effective; it is, however, expensive and dangerous if not handled by a professional. Let this not discourage you, though, as there is another method of efficiently removing tree stumps from the ground – by rotting the tree first!

This leads us to the most important question people ask about rotting tree stumps – how! How do you fit the stump so you can easily take it off the ground and get the space you need? This is what this guide will focus on by showing you different methods to use if you want to rot a tree stump.

Before we delve into it, bear in mind that rotting a tree as used here is the same as killing the tree. As trees grow, they spread their roots deep into the ground and to the side to get nutrients and remain firm. Some trees like evergreens need these nutrients all year round as they keep producing through the year. When it is time to cut them down, their deeply channeled root system plus the life in them makes it difficult to remove the stump. Read on as we discuss this further.

Why Would You Want to Rot Your Tree Stump?

Why Would You Want to Rot Your Tree Stump?

Before we go ahead talking about how to kill a tree stump, we should first understand why and in what situations you should be looking at the option of rotting a tree stump for easy removal from the ground.

If you’ve cut down your tree for one reason or the other and need the space for other things, removing the tree stump from the ground will allow you to use the space while keeping the area safe for you and your family. As already mentioned, removing a tree stump that is still alive is challenging; using other methods like digging out a live tree stump is labor-intensive while using a tree stump grinder is expensive and requires the help of professionals. Rotting a tree becomes essential when you put all these into consideration.

Materials Needed to Rot a Tree Stump

There are some materials and tools you need before you embark on a tree rot process. Luckily, these materials and tools are not too many and can be accessed easily depending on the method you choose.


  • Gloves
  • Handsaw
  • Plastic tarp
  • Goggles
  • Drill


  • Mulch
  • Desired Chemicals

Chemicals/Materials to Use to Rot Trees

There are several chemicals and materials you can use to cause the quick rotting of trees. You should handle these chemicals with care and use them only when plants or water bodies are not too close to the stump. Safer home rotting agents can serve you well in cases where you have other plants close to the tree stump that may be affected.

High Nitrogen Fertilisers

Nitrogen fertilizers

Fertilizers with high Nitrogen contents destroy tree stumps quickly. If you want to easily cause a tree stump to rot, using a high nitrogen fertilizer is one of the best ways.

Ammonium sulphate and ammonium nitrate are nitrogen fertilizers without phosphate or potassium. Using any of these two to attack the tree stump leads to a quick decomposition of the stump. The nitrogen in the fertilizer feeds the bacteria and fungi that cause the rotting of the wood.

Potassium Nitrate

Potassium nitrate

Potassium nitrate produces the fastest result in rotting tree stumps and should probably be at the top of this list. It is not at the top of the list for one reason – it is a dangerous chemical that should only be used when the necessary precautions have been taken. If you have pets and kids, avoid using this method of tree stump rotting.

Potassium nitrate causes the decomposition of wood. In fact, it is sold separately as a wood stump remover. It is fast-acting and will kill the stump in a short time.

Epsom Salt

Epsom Salt

Epsom salt is a homemade method you can use to rot your tree stump safely. This method is affordable since Epsom salt is common in homes; you may already have it right now. Using Epsom salt is also a safer method as it is not a dangerous chemical like the others mentioned above and would be milder on plants around it.

Salts over time will cause the decomposition of the wood and ultimately kill it off. Bear in mind that this method is slow and may take a long time to completely rot the tree stump depending on the tree and size. If you would prefer a faster tree rot process, consider other options.

How to Rot a Tree Stump?

Learn the steps to take if you want to kill a tree stump by causing decomposition. Follow the steps here to rot that troublesome tree stump in a short time.

  1. Cut the stump low

    Take your hand saw or chainsaw (only if you’re proficient enough) to cut the tree stump to the lowest point you can go. The closer to the ground it is, the faster the decomposition.Cut the stump low

  2. Drill holes

    It is time to use your drill to drill holes at least 5 inches wide and no less than 4 inches deep while ensuring they are at least 2 inches apart from each other. Drill holes across the top of the stump to make the decomposition process faster.Drilling the holes

  3. Put in your preferred chemical

    Check out the chemicals mentioned above and choose your most preferred option. They have varying rates of decomposition, effectiveness, and safety to plants around, pets, and kids.
    Typically, the process for the chemicals are similar so, fill half or 2/3 of the hole with the desired chemicals, add water to each hole so the chemical can react, and start the action. Pay extra attention, so the chemical and water don’t spill.Put in your preferred chemical

  4.  Cover the stump with a tarp

    Use a tarp to cover the stump adequately. This is to prevent the water inside the holes from drying out so the chemicals can continue to react. The tarp also helps to keep light out, which will hasten the decomposition process. Tape the tarp firmly to keep the tree area isolated as much as possible. Cover the stump with a tarp

  5. Add mulch

    After covering the stump with a tarp, cover it with wood-based mulch and water it. Watering the mulch will ensure the chemical still finds a moist environment to operate as it continues to decompose the stump.Add mulch

  6. Remove decomposed wood

    After about a month or more, depending on the type of chemical used, you should notice that the top of the stump has become soft and decomposed when you open the stump. Take an axe and chop off the soft part so the chemicals can start working on the other parts of the stump still alive.Remove decomposed woods

  7. Repeat

    After chopping off the top part that has already decomposed, repeat the process from step one. Do this continuously till the stump has been eradicated.

How Long Does a Tree Stump Take to Rot?

The time for a stump to rot varies on several factors, but generally, it takes anything between a month and a half to twelve months for a stump to rot. Several factors like the size of the tree stump and the chemical used can affect the time it’ll take to decompose.


Tree stumps are as annoying as they get when it comes to removing them from the ground. If you leave them in, so they rot naturally, it can take anything from three years to seven years to decompose completely. If you decide to use the method of inducing rot, this article has made everything easy. There are so many things you can do with your tree stump. Check out this guide for some amazing tree stump ideas.

About Jennifer Igra

Growing up in Brooklyn, New York City known for it’s green gardens. Jennifer, a 30 year old gardener and green living fanatic started Igra World to share her gardening journey and increase gardening awareness among masses. Follow Igra World to improve your gardening skills.

1 thought on “How to Rot a Tree Stump Fast and Easily”

  1. I had this issue when I decided to cut a tree on my front lawn. It was difficult removing the stump. Great tips on how to. 🙂


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