House Grail is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

How To Remove Tree Roots (4 Expert Tips)

stump grinding a tree trunk

Sometimes, old trees or dried stumps can get in the way of your garden’s aesthetics, and that’s when you may begin looking into methods for removing them. These stumps are usually already chopped down or entirely dried out, which makes removal much easier. Clearing out your garden area can bring you additional space for planting new and healthy crops, trees, or plants.

If you’d like to learn the best and most efficient ways to remove tree roots, read the article below. This task can be challenging, so knowing what you’re dealing with upfront will save you a lot of effort.

garden flower divider

The 4 Expert Tips to Remove Tree Roots

1. Chemical Treatment

forest worker drilling tree and injecting chemical substance
Image By: tetxu, Shutterstock

One sure way you can remove tree roots with ease is by using a chemical treatment on the roots. If you choose to go for this type of treatment, a chemical herbicide or a stump remover powder will help you achieve your goal quickly. While this method is incredibly reliable and efficient, it tends to endanger the soil around the tree, making it toxic for future growth, which is why it is essential to use these chemicals carefully. For this project, you will need a saw or a drill, an axe, and a chemical stump remover of your choice. Make sure to keep your children and pets away from the stump.


Using a saw or a drill, create holes in the tree stump where you will pour the chemical. Make sure to space the holes evenly for the chemical to reach the roots as fast as possible. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on mixing the solution and pour it into the stump without touching the grass or plants around it. After a few weeks, when the stump rots and becomes soft, you can break it up with an axe and remove it easily.

2. Stump Grinding

Tree Stump Removal
Image By: Valdis Muiznieks, Shutterstock

While stump grinding can be costly when done by a professional, it is one of the most efficient and safe techniques out there. Grinding the stump requires a stump grinder, a machine that not many gardeners own. If you own one—perfect, but if not and you want to avoid paying a professional, you can always rent it from a machine rental house. This machine is ideal because it grinds the stump almost entirely, leaving only around a foot of the roots beneath the ground. Before beginning to grind you will need to put on safety goggles, gloves, and ear protectors.


Position the machine over the stump and begin grinding. The stump grinder will gradually grind the stump’s surface, working its way down to the roots. Once you are done grinding and removing any leftover roots, fill the hole with loam or the sawdust from the grinding.

3. Digging Out Tree Roots

gardener pulling out tree roots with spade
Image By: Axente Vlad, Shutterstock

Digging out the roots yourself is the most labor-intensive technique, but it will ensure there is no leftover root in the soil to continue developing. Depending on the size of your tree and its roots, this method can be done easily, or you may need some assistance. For this project, you will need a grub hoe, a spade, loppers, and maybe a root saw. Before starting, it is necessary to determine whether there are any underground lines, such as water or sewer pipes, so you don’t damage them while digging roots.


Start by digging the soil around the stump to expose any loose roots. Cut through some of the roots with loppers and dig the dirt around them to make it easier to pull on them. Continue cutting through the roots and pulling them out until your stump becomes loose. When it is loose, you can begin shaking it back and forth to release any soil clumps hanging on the roots, and if needed, use a root saw.

4. Burning the Stump

cut and burned tree stump
Image By: pittaya, Shutterstock

Burning the stump is another effective technique, although it might only be legal in some parts of the US. To ensure your municipality allows open fires, contact your local fire department and explain what you wish to accomplish. Make sure to chop down your tree as much as possible, leaving only a short stump. You can use the chopped-up tree for building your fire.


Lay out the wood around and on top of the stump, where the stump will be in the very center. Keep the fire burning while monitoring it. It will take a few hours for the entire stump to burn down with roots depending on its size, and how fresh it is. The process will be far quicker if the stump is old and no longer green. Make sure to remove any leftover ash from the scene.

garden flower divider


While you will find many methods in your search for removing tree roots, these four will bring you the best results in a short period. Once you remove them, you will have plenty of new room to plant more beautiful plants and trees and ensure a healthy, thriving, and tidy garden without any stumps or roots taking up unnecessary space.

Featured Image Credit: Marilyn Laudadio, Shutterstock


Related posts

OUR categories

Project ideas

Hand & power tools