How To Preserve A Tree Stump

Once a tree has been removed, you are often left with a tree stump in the middle of your back yard. If you don’t want to remove the remnants, you should consider incorporating the stump into the landscape or perhaps even making it a feature of the back yard. Alternatively, you could mold the stump into a decorative furniture piece for any other part of your home. Some of the most popular DIY projects for treated wood include stools, side tables, and planter pedestals. In this article, we’ll be covering how to preserve a tree stump!

Stumps Facts

Once the tree has been felled, the tree base is still alive and continues to absorb moisture and use oxygen. If left unattended, a tree stump may attract pests such as termites that can migrate to other areas. These pests are generally attracted by heat and moisture. This combination is also a potential source of mold.

Depending on the species and the stub’s size, some stumps will quickly decay, while others will be quite hardy. The Western red cedar, redwood, and oak species are the most durable and will be the easiest to preserve.

Preservation

Incorporating Into The Landscape

Removing old tree stumps from your yard can be expensive. Rather than trying to remove the tree remnants, consider turning the base into a decorative showpiece. One way to do this is to hollow out the stump to use as a planter. This would work best with stumps that have already started to decay inside. Check for termites and eradicate the pests before you begin. Alternatively, if you have several tree stumps close to each other, you can cut them down flat and build a garden around them. If you preserve the stump, you can use it as a seat if the top is leveled flat, or as a tree stump table.

Pedestal Options

An old tree stump can also be used as a pedestal, making a decorative addition to the outside of your house. You could place statues or colored globes on them and then plant flowers and ground cover around them to add some color and texture. Tall tree stumps are often used as a trellis for climbing vines and ivy.

Making A Feature 

It may be your wish to make some gorgeous home furniture like a stump tree table. Once you have cut off the stump to ground level, then you need to preserve it. You will need to wait until the stumps are completely dried out before you treat them with any preserving agent. Place the cut nubbins in a covered area where they won’t encounter rain or other moisture for at least three to six months. This will ensure the bark is easy to remove and make the process easier.  

Materials:

  • Sand
  • Epoxy
  • Polyurethane sealant to help preserve
  • Stain

Tools Used:

  • Orbital Sander with sanding sponges in 60,80,120 and 220 grit
  • Foam brush
  • Scrubber brush
  • Chisels in various widths
  • Hammer
  • Large, medium and small stain brushes

The first task is to remove the bark with a chisel or rotary hammer. You may need to use a few different tools depending on the age of the stump. You will likely have some sap remnants to remove as well.  

You can then sand the stump to create a smooth surface. You may use two different grit sandpapers to get the effect you want. Then vacuum out all the crevices to remove all the extra dust. If there are any significant or deep cracks, you can fill them in with a wood filler like clear epoxy. Put tape on the sides and bottom of the stump, below the cracks, to prevent the epoxy from leaking out the cracks. 

It would be best if you then allowed the stump to reach room temperature before treating it with stain or preserver. You can then apply wood stabilizer and sealer, so it does not crack, warp or rot. Start with a small amount of stabilizer and then add more as needed. The wood will absorb the stabilizer as you rub it in. Cover the top of the stump in plastic and let it dry for 2-4 hours. Allow the sealer to dry completely between coats. You can apply two more coats to the top and sides.

Alternate Uses

If you don’t want to go to the expense and trouble of making tree stump tables or even a tree stump coffee table for your home, consider using the tree stumps to create stepping stones around your house. If you want more color like some people, paint the slabs.