How to Remove A Tree Stump With Epsom Salt

Stuck with unsightly tree stumps in your yard and can’t afford to call in the professionals to remove it? There is a solution that can get the job done without putting you in the poor house. The quickest way by far to remove an unwanted tree stump is to hire a tree surgeon or tree lopper, but they can be quite costly. Using Epsom salts is inexpensive, non-labor intensive, not harsh on the environment, and it works. It may just take a little more time and patience to achieve the desired success.

Removing A Stump With Epsom Salt

There are two main methods of removing stumps using Epsom salt. They are the drilling method and the soaking method. Both ways will deliver the same desired results – the stump and root system will eventually dry out and rot. It may take several months, depending on the size, but it will happen. Once dead, the stump will decompose naturally. You can speed up the process by adding high nitrogen fertilizer around the base of the stump. You can also dig it out quite easily. Refill the hole with soil and cover over with lawn seed, or create a new flower bed in its place. The soil around your tree stump will be in excellent condition from the Epsom salts. All that will be needed is regular water.

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The Drilling Method

  • Use a 1-inch drill bit to drill several holes into the stump. Leave several inches between each hole. Drill as deeply as possible, at least 8 inches. 
  • Pour Epsom salt directly into the drilled holes, filling right to the top. 
  • Add just enough water to moisten the Epsom salt. Do this slowly, so your salt doesn’t overflow. You need it to remain in the stump holes. 
  • Cover the stump with a tarp to prevent rainwater from filling the holes and diluting the Epsom salts too much, weakening the solution.
  • Repeat the process every three weeks until the stump is dead. Typically, pale wood retains life, while dark, brittle wood is dead. 

The Soaking Method

  • Mix one part (1 gallon) Epsom salts with two parts (2 gallons) of water for each tree stump requiring removal.
  • Stir until all remnants of salt have been dissolved into the water.
  • Dig away any soil to reveal as much of the base of the tree stump as possible.
  • You’ll need access to the roots to increase your chances of killing off stump and prevent regrowth.
  • Drill a hole into at least four places around the fixture. If you can see roots showing up from the ground, drill a few holes into the thickest part of each. 
  • Push the tip of a funnel into each of the holes and pour in the solution until you see it drain from the holes. This is a good indicator that you’ve saturated the stump well.
  • Use all of the solution.
  • Cover the stump with a tarp, and repeat the soaking procedure every week until the stump appears visibly dried out. 
  • After about a month, the wood should be drying out.
  • If it’s dry, it’s time to cut out and remove a tree stump. Otherwise, add more solution and periodically check the stump over the next few weeks.

How Epsom Salt Works To Remove Stumps

It is not uncommon for chemical solutions to fail to get rid of a stump. The problem lies in the fact that lopping trees don’t kill, it just leaves tree stumps to be removed. If you remove a tree that’s alive, you will be left with a living stump, complete with roots. The root system of a mature tree reaches far beyond what you can see. They can keep growing well after being separated from the upper part of the tree. 

You don’t need to break your back with an ax or spend thousands of dollars, either. Just pouring bleach over a stump may kill some of the branches, but it won’t kill the roots. Other commercially available stump removal products are made from potassium nitrate. They’re effective at decomposing and dissolving a tree stump, which is already dead. That is where most chemical solutions fall down. They are unable to kill that which is still living.

A solution of Epsom salts and water will help kill and rot the tree, making it easier to break apart and permanently get rid of it. Epsom salt contains magnesium and sulfur, both nutrients plants need to survive. However, if used in excess, they decrease resources and kill plants, weeds, and, yes, tree stumps. The magnesium sulfate draws moisture from everything it comes into contact with. When used as directed on tree stumps, the Epsom salt will dry out everything, including the root system, and prevent it from absorbing the moisture and nutrients it needs to live. The salt causes the tree stump to rot and break down, making it easier to remove stump manually. 

How Long Does It Take To Kill A Tree Stump With Epsom Salt?

Hiring a tree surgeon or stump removal expert to get rid of a remaining tree stump in your yard will take a lot less time than using Epsom salt to work its magic. Typically you’d be looking at a whole day or a little longer, but the cost can run into thousands due to the heavy-duty equipment they tend to use. Equipment like grinders, axes, electric saws, etc.  

You’ll have to wait much longer for Epsom salt to dry out the roots and starve the stump of moisture and nutrition, which can vary from stump to stump depending on the size. You can expect to need a fair amount of patience, though. Treating with Epsom salt is an ideal natural, low-cost option, but it can take several months to remove the stump. In the end, though, the eyesore will be gone from view.