How to Make a Tree Stump Rot Fast

Any backyard maintenance requires a bit of elbow grease to get the job done. Some tasks are easier than others. Getting rid of weeds, for example, can be done much quicker with the right tools and grass fertilizer.

Tending to a garden, however, takes time and care, depending on the plants you’re growing. And if you’re looking to spruce up your backyard, there are some more significant bits of maintenance to consider. Removing rotting trees can be a particularly pesky situation. We’ll learn how to make a tree stump rot fast, and with the right tools, you can get your backyard looking clean and orderly

How to Tell If a Tree Is Rotting 

Close-up of bark on a tree stump

Trees typically rot from fungi that grow in a damp environment. If you live in a typically damp region that experiences a lot of precipitation, chances are you’ll have seen a few rotting trees and plants in your area and even your own backyard. 

If a tree is rotting in your yard, you will want to remove it immediately. But how can you tell if the tree is actually rotting? There are usually signs that the rot is happening either outside or inside the tree. Look for any bark decay, like cracks or holes in the bark. That’ll indicate the source of the rot in the tree. There might be dead sections of the tree stumps and its branches, like discoloration, spotting, or dying roots. 

Hardwood trees are commonly affected by heart rot, which stems from the center flesh of the tree internally and spreads out throughout the whole tree over time. If you see mushrooms growing around the tree, it’s likely there’s internal rot growing in the tree. This rot may take decades to spread to the rest of the tree, so it’s no cause for immediate concern unless you see severe rot on the outside of the tree. 

Look for the following around the tree trunk: 

  • Wilting leaves
  • Discolored leaves
  • Stunted tree growth
  • Dead branches falling off the tree
  • White, spongy-looking rot

The lower the rot is to the ground, the more likely you will have to cut down the tree. A tree rotting from the ground is more likely to fall and potentially cause a more severe problem for your yard or home. 

Additionally, if you have a tree stump you do not want on your lawn, you can create conditions that will rot tree stumps and decompose and remove it safely from your yard without damaging any other plants around it. 

How long does it take for a tree stump to rot? 

A tree stump can take anywhere from a year to a decade to fully decompose. However, there are effective DIY solutions to quicken the tree rotting process and cause a tree stump to rot in a few months. 

How to Make a Tree Stump Rot Fast

Green plants growing on a tree stump

After you’ve cut down the rotting tree, you’ll want to remove the rotting tree stump. Or if you’ve got a large stump already in your backyard, and it has begun to rot, you will have to remove the rot before it becomes a bigger problem down the line. 

Luckily, there are some easy and effective ways to make a tree stump rot faster and get it out of your yard. Simply removing a rotting tree stump that hasn’t fully rotted can be difficult. It’s easier to spread the rot throughout the stump without interfering with anything else around the unsightly stump. 

There are several ways to rot a tree stump fast, from killing its roots to quickening the natural decomposition of the tree. 

1. Use Epsom Salt

One effective and low-cost way to rot tree stump fast is by putting Epsom salt on the stump. To do this, drill holes into the top and sides of the stump. Then, spread Epsom salt onto the stump and douse it in water. Sprinkle some soil overtop, then cover the rotting stump with a plastic tarp. The tarp will quicken the process and allow the salt to penetrate the bark quicker. 

2. Cover with a Plastic Bag

For a super low-cost, chemical-free way to quicken the tree stump rot. Since plants need photosynthesis to survive, if you cover the stump with an opaque plastic bag, you have effectively cut off its primary source of nutrients. Use a large plastic bag or tarp and cover the stump completely. Cover it with organic waste, like wood chips, hay, or leaves, and let it sit. The rot may take a few months to spread and weaken the rotted tree stump, but it will make removal easy. 

3. Use Hot Water

Using hot water is another cheap and chemical-free way to make a tree stump rot faster. To do this, dig around the stump to expose its roots and drill deep holes into the stump. You’ll want to drill as many holes as possible, as deep as possible. Then, pour boiling water over the stump and its roots to damage and kill the roots; over time, the rot will spread to the tree’s roots, making it easier for removal. 

4. Use Rock Salt

Like Epsom salt, rock salt can also speed up the decomposition of tree rot. Chances are you already have some rock salt lying around in your shed, making this a cost-effective solution for removing a tree stump from your yard.

Using rock salt is easy – simply drill some holes into the base and sides of the trunk. Then, fill the holes with rock salt and cover the entire stump with salt. Cover it all with soil, wood chips, or mulch, and pour water over it all. The dampness will help speed up the rotting process, so continue watering every few days to promote the growth of fungi. 

Removing the Tree Stump

Once the rot has effectively spread from the trunk to its roots, how do you remove the tree stump from the ground? One way is through grinding, which requires specialized stump grinders and thus is often left to tree stump removal professionals. 

But there are a few ways to remove the old tree stump yourself that are effective without damaging the surrounding soil. 


If the rot has completely weakened the tree, you can dig out the tree stump easily from the ground. This may take some work depending on how deep it has planted its roots in the ground. That’s why ensuring you’ve left the stump to rot as long as possible is essential. 


You can burn the tree stump, but ensure you are burning it safely. This usually entails following guidelines from your local fire department, such as avoiding flammable liquids and removing anything flammable from its radius. If you decide to burn the stump, ensure you are doing it in a safe and controlled environment. 

How do I dispose of a rotting tree? 

You can dispose of a rotting tree using your local area’s composting and natural waste disposal services. If the stump is relatively small, you may be able to get away with bringing it to your local composting site. However, most tree stumps will be on the larger side, and you may have to pay a fee to dispose of them. Waste disposal services can also come to pick up the tree at your home, saving you the hassle of carrying it, which can be helpful for heavier waste disposal. 


Removing tree rot and plant rot from your backyard can keep your place looking fresh and help the plants and wildlife around it. Rot and fungi encourage moisture and can spread to the rest of your garden and backyard. That’s why keeping your yard in tip-top shape and well-maintained is essential.

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