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I detailed in part 1 of this post what my plans were for expanding my garden and now I am going to detail how I removed the stump. I have gotten to be pretty good at removing stumps for some reason. I have removed half a dozen of them at various times in my life and I have learned the easiest way to extract them. I know it sounds weird, but I find it kind of fun digging and carefully extracting a tree stump free. I have listed below my method of removing stumps, and I hope you find this helpful.
Here are tools I recommend using when removing a stump.
Pick ax - Used for breaking up soil around roots
Ax - Used for chopping small roots
Regular shovel - Used for digging around stump
Garden Rake - Used for raking away debris and soil
Chain Saw - An absolute must have in my opinion. You will
wear yourself out trying to chop big thick roots with just an ax.
A chain saw works great if you are careful and pay attention.
Step 1 - Clear your work area by removing any sticks or debris away from the area you are going to be working in. In my case this involved raking away a thick layer of pine straw and mulch.
Step 2 - Dig, Dig, Dig and then dig some more. Don't go straight in there with an ax trying to use brute force to remove a stump. You aren't Paul Bunyan and you will just get frustrated. Also, don't dig right up against the stump, that is where all the roots are. Depending on the size of the tree, start digging 3 to 6 feet away from the stump. You can see in this picture I didn't dig right up next to the stump, I started away.
Step 3 - When you encounter roots around the perimeter of your dig, chop them with your ax. If the roots are larger than 2 inches in diameter I recommend cutting those with a chain saw. Just dig all around the root and make sure it is fully exposed. Dig all the dirt from underneath the root as well, this will give you a clear path to cut it with your saw. This two pictures below show a root that I exposed and then removed with my chain saw.
Step 4 - Continue step 3 by working your away around the perimeter of the tree. Once you have circled the entire tree stump, then you can start digging closer to the actual stump itself. This method is good because by working out and then in, you have given yourself plenty of room to dig under the stump. In the two pictures below you can see where I have made a path and I am starting to dig under the stump on one side.
Step 5 - Dig down directly under the stump to access any tap roots that are anchoring the tree and preventing it from being removed. In my case there were three small tap roots and I was able to whack them with my ax. Sometimes you can rock the stump back and forth and they will give way too.
Digging down deep will allow you to rock the stump on its side
I pushed the stump on its side to access the tap roots.
Once you get at the tap roots, the stump should come right out. This was a decent sized tree, 25 to 30 feet tall and the stump was about 1 foot thick at its base.
Step 6 - Once the stump is out, you will now have to pull up all the perimeter roots. Sometimes this requires more digging, sometimes you can just pull them up. Refill the hole with dirt and you are done.
Here are all the roots from my tree including the perimeter roots.
I still have a lot of work to do, but the tree is completely gone and I have pulled up 75% of the roots. I am sure I will find some more roots that I missed when I till the ground in the spring. The entire process for this tree took me 2 hours, which isn't that bad. The key is to have a chain saw for the thicker roots, and my ground was really easy to dig.