Removing A Tree Stump
By David Wall, Mount Pleasant Master Gardener
Over 60 years ago, the biggest oak tree in our yard came down in a storm, leaving a stump around 40” in diameter. Mechanized tree stump removal was not available, so Dad went shopping and came home with a can of tree stump removal costing nearly $20, which was high- cost in the mid-1950s.
Today, professional, mechanized stump removal is quite common, but it isn’t cheap. A new stump removal product is available today for only a few dollars, and this new magic solvent is Epsom salts (ES)! Yes, besides helping your tomato plants grow tastier fruit, helping roses produce brighter blooms, killing weeds, and providing many other uses, ES will make a stump quickly rot, by drawing out moisture from the stump and roost, shortening the decaying time from several years to months.
SO, how does this work? OK, first you need to own, rent, or borrow a drill with a ½” bit. Then, you need to drill holes in the stump. You can start 3” in from the outer bark and work your 2way in, or start dead center and work your way out. Holes should be as deep as the drill bit is long, up to 8” deep.
Next, purchase enough ES (start with a quart) to fill the holes. Then, moisten the ES with water. That’s moisten, not flush, which will wash away some of the Epsom salts. Now, leave it alone to do its work. If rains are forecast, cover the stump with plastic, tarp, etc.
Reapplication may be required every few weeks. Length of time for the stump to “die” is dependent on the stump size. Place Epsom salts on any exposed roots to increase the dehydration effect. Oh, by the way, that $20 tree stump removal product in the 1950s? It largely contained ES!!!