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How to Rot a Tree Stump Fast for More Yard Space

Whether you’ve recently removed a tree in your backyard to let in more natural light or you recently bought a home with a tree stump, you understand what a nuisance a leftover stump can be.

Some homeowners choose to leave their tree stumps alone or to incorporate them into their backyard somehow. However, if your tree stump is taking up valuable backyard space or becoming a hazard, maybe it’s time for it to go.

But how do you get rid of a tree stump? What reasons are there to get rid of it? How long do they take to decompose naturally? You’ll discover the answer to these questions in this article.

Plus, if you want to take control of your backyard and speed up the process, you’ll learn how to rot a tree stump fast and discover the best methods.

Why Do You Need to Rot a Tree Stump?

There are several reasons why you’d want to choose tree stump removal.

First and foremost, it’s a safety hazard, especially if it’s in the middle of your backyard. The stump or roots can be a tripping hazard for children, pets, and adults alike. Worse yet, it can be a liability for others visiting your home and tripping over it.

A tree stump also may carry diseases and cause an infestation in your backyard that may spread to your other plants, which is especially concerning if you have a garden near the tree stump or, even worse, if your home is near the stump, as roots can continue to grow and cause damage. Many pests, such as ants and termites, also live in tree stumps and may make themselves at home in your backyard.

As mentioned, tree stumps can take up valuable backyard space and prevent you from working on other projects, such as extending your deck or starting a garden. Similarly, if it is in a very inconvenient spot, it may also lower your property value.

With so many reasons for tree stump removal, the next question is: how long do you have to wait for a tree stump to rot?

How Long It Takes to Rot Tree Stumps

The rotting process is slow and, on its own, takes a significant amount of time.

Tree stumps rot naturally over time, but this can take a while. Generally, it takes a tree stump 15 to 20 years to rot completely.

When you learn how to rot a tree stump fast with select methods, you can cut that time down to less than a year – typically six to 12 months. That said, no matter what method you use, you should allow up to about a year for your tree stump to rot entirely to be safe.

The only question left is, how do you remove an unsightly stump from your backyard? So, let’s check out how to rot a tree stump fast using three methods.

Old tree stump covered in autumn leaves

How to Rot Tree Stumps Fast – Top 3 Methods

Rotting a tree stump isn’t necessarily a “fast” process. It’s only fast relative to how long a tree stump takes to naturally decompose.

That said, there are three methods to ensure that your tree stump is gone in less than a year. Let’s check them out.

Use Salt

One of the most common DIY methods used to get rid of a tree stump is salt.

Salt speeds up the decomposition process to six to 12 months because, in large quantities, salt is deadly to trees. The most common salt choices are rock salt or Epsom salt.

Here’s how to use salt to rot a tree stump:

  1. Drill holes going downwards into the tree stump.
  2. Cover the holes with Epsom or rock salt.
  3. Cover the stump in soil and mulch.
  4. Pour water over the stump to dissolve the salt and enable the roots to absorb it.
  5. Water the stump every few days to keep it moist.

Within a few months, your stump should decompose quickly. You can also use a tarp to cover the stump to accelerate the process and ensure that rainwater doesn’t wash out the salt.

Plastic Bag Method

The easiest method for quickly rotting a tree stump is using a plastic bag to remove its source of sunlight. Without sunlight, the tree stump will die and decompose within three months. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Cut the stump as close to the root as possible with a chainsaw.
  2. Use a black garbage bag to cover the stump.
  3. Add rocks on top of the bag to weigh it down.

Boiling Water

The last way to rot a tree stump fast and naturally is by using boiling water.

As you probably already know, boiling water kills plants. Tree stumps are no exception.

Here’s how to use boiling water to kill a tree stump and speed up decomposition:

  1. Expose the stump’s roots as much as possible. Dig them up if you have to.
  2. Drill holes in the stump’s roots.
  3. Pour boiling water on the roots, ensuring it gets into the holes. This will shock the roots and kill the stump, resulting in quicker decomposition.

Rotting a tree stump isn’t the only way to eliminate it. You can also physically remove it.

Gardener cuts branches off old tree

Other Ways to Eliminate a Tree Stump

While rotting a tree stump is preferable, there are several techniques to use to remove a tree stump physically. Let’s take a look at a few popular methods.


Burning a tree stump is a great way to get rid of the stump itself, but it doesn’t get rid of the roots, which is something to keep in mind.

Before trying this method, ensure that you don’t live in a dry climate or that there isn’t a fire ban in your area.

Once you’re in the clear, you can drill holes into the stump, pour kerosene into them, and light the stump on fire. Be sure to monitor the fire so you can put it out when necessary.

Dig It Out

Another option to eliminate a tree stump in your backyard is to dig it out.

This method is preferable for eliminating a tree stump, but it’s also difficult because of the roots. This method can also be destructive to your backyard as it requires much digging.

If you choose this method, here’s how to proceed:

  1. Dig around the stump to expose as much root as possible.
  2. Use a chainsaw to cut the more extensive roots. Use clippers to cut any of the smaller roots.
  3. Once you’ve cut all the roots, lift the stump from the ground.

Once you remove the stump, immediately cover the area with mulch and topsoil.

For best results, hire a professional tree removal service for this method.

Grind It Down

Your last option is to grind down the tree stump. This method is quick but needs to be done by a professional tree removal service.

A professional will use a tree stump grinder machine’s cutter blade to chip away at the wood and cut any roots connected to the stump. 

The whole process can take between three and six hours, depending on if you have a large stump, but in the end, it will be gone.

How to Rot a Tree Stump Fast FAQ

What liquid will rot a tree stump?

Several liquids can rot a tree stump, but one of the most effective is potassium nitrate. 

Also known as “saltpeter,” potassium nitrate kills the stump and is one of the best ingredients for helping it decompose quickly.

Other effective stump removal chemicals and products include:

  • Glyphosate
  • Triclopyr
  • Sodium metabisulfite
  • Picloram

Will vinegar work?

Using vinegar can effectively rot a tree stump faster.

Create a mixture combining vinegar and salt. Once you have your mixture, drill holes into the tree stump and dump it in.

Will pouring bleach on a tree stump kill it?

Pouring bleach on a tree stump is another effective way to kill it. However, bleach will also kill any surrounding plants, including grass, plants, and even wildlife.

Using more natural ingredients such as salt or vinegar to rot a tree stump and be more conscious of the environment is better.

Rotting a Tree Stump: Patience Is Key

The main takeaway in learning how to rot a tree stump fast is that patience is key. Although there are methods you can use to rot a tree stump quicker than its natural progression, you’ll still have to wait months and are subject to how resilient the tree is.

Be cautious when using different substances to kill your tree, as you don’t want to harm the surrounding area and end up with a more significant problem.


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