Organic Stump Removal
(from the Crestview neighborhood list-serve 10/07) (A note from Julie: home repair and asset enhancement has as much to do with being good stewards of the planet as it does with improving your kitchen. I believe the best place to start is your own back yard and will only post organic yard solutions.)
Stump grinder is the only way to go, or try and slice the stump up as much as possible as initially suggested. Further decay can be influenced and expedited by building a small raised bed around the stumps and by introducing an organic compost thriving with microbial activity. The stumps will need only about an inch minimum of coverage to produce a decaying environment.
One other possible treatment would be just leave the stumps and plant ground covers around them. Eventually a natural decaying micro environment that is rich with nutrients will be created over the remaining stumps. Within a year or two, all that will remain is decaying matter that is so much better for the environment, your yard, your pets, your children, your neighbors, the thriving microbial life that exists already in the realms of your stumps. Kerosene would threaten all that creating a much worse environment that could take years upon years to return to its original state.
It is typical for tree removals to leave about an inch or so of trunk exposure. Any contact what so ever of a chain saw’s chain with dirt will immediately dull the chain. Stump grinders are generally employed in areas with access. This can be expensive, hard work and time consuming all of which is dependent on access, clearances, the size of the stump(s) or even the type of tree will influence the price. Best to rent one between several people over a weekend to make it cost effective. It is hard work! Grinders are heavy, difficult to maneuver and quite awkward for the first time user.
Complete removal will require digging out the root ball with a pick ax or mattock to cut the roots. Again an extreme amount of work required. Dissolving the stump will only hinder the removal of the stump making it quite impossible to remove the primary root ball.
Perhaps the Travis County Agricultural Extension Office can suggest an organic product. A call to the Natural Gardener might produce some sort of additive as well.
If you “must” remove it/decay it….notch the top deeply in a criss-cross pattern with a chain saw. Skill and full awareness of chainsaw physics is of the utmost importance! A chisel, ax or tools mentioned above will help. Work is required! Top with compost or sand and water in and keep moist. In a year or two, dependent on species of course, you will be able to start digging out or removing as discussed in the first paragraph above. Good Luck!
Given my experience, the fastest, easiest and cheapest way to rid the undesired visual presence in an environmentally responsible manner is to provide an appropriate environment in which the stump will decay naturally. By doing this, you will improve the soil providing valuable nutrients and decaying material (i.e. food) for the smaller things in our lives. These are the critters that are essential to the health of this world and those that coexist within it. Manipulate those eye sores into a flourishing flower bed that will please the senses for years to come. Let the old become the structure and basis for the new things in life. Within a year at most, you will have forgotten those old trees as you anticipate the next blooming flower or even admire a cut flower in your window. Much more enjoyable than looking forward to a stump removal!
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