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3 Best Tree Stump Killers [And How To Kill Stumps]

One of the most daunting questions that homeowners ask themselves is how to get rid of tree stumps in their yard. 

Tree stumps are unsightly and unpleasant, but they also can be dangerous – a hazard for children and pets who might not see them as well as an impediment to you (and your equipment!) when you are trying to maintain your lawn. 

Fortunately, there are several ways you can remove a tree stump with minimal hassle and expense. One of the best ways is to use a tree stump killer. 

But how do you find the best tree stump killer – and more importantly, how are these chemicals meant to be used? In this detailed guide, we will tell you everything you need to know.

How Do Stump Killers Work? 

Tree stump killers, often sold in granules as well as in liquid form (there are also “plugs” from a brand named ECOPLUG), speed up the decomposition process in a stump.

They don’t get rid of the stump entirely – that’s a misconception. Instead, they make the stump more porous, after which time you can either cut it up or burn it. 

The decomposition process can take several weeks, so don’t be disappointed if you don’t see immediate results. It can even take months, in some cases, depending on the age and condition of the tree. However, most homeowners agree that waiting a month or so to see results is better than paying hundreds to use a stump grinder.

How to Choose the Right Stump Killers

When you start shopping around for stump killers, you might find yourself overwhelmed by all the options. Here are some considerations to make when you’re comparing products. 


This is a feature that many people tend to overlook but it’s essential that you give it a second thought. Use a stump killer improperly and you risk harming the lawn or other plants surrounding the stump. Even worse, you could injure yourself or make yourself sick.

Whenever you are using any kind of chemical on your lawn or garden, you really can’t be too safe. Follow the instructions carefully and wear protective gear like gloves, eye and mouth protection, and long sleeves and pants. Keep chemicals stored away from pets and children, too.

These are general tips you should follow when using any kind of chemical on your lawn, but you can make your life a little less stressful by selecting products that are a bit safer to begin with. Start by finding a stump killer that works on the stump and the stump only when you can – only choose those that are listed for weeds and vines if you actually need to get rid of those, too. 


As with any kind of product that you purchase for your lawn and landscape, you’ll want to consider your budget. Stump killers vary quite a lot in price and while there are some that are quite expensive and work very well, price doesn’t always indicate a higher value. 

Ease of Use

Maintenance is another important factor to consider when you’re choosing a stump killer. Look for a product that is easy to use and comes with detailed instructions. While applying stump killer might seem like an obvious, no-brainer task, the reality is that there is a bit of a learning curve required in order to do this properly. 


This might sound like an obvious tip, but it’s important to find a stump killer that is efficient. Sure, most chemicals will be effective and get the job done for your lawn – but the efficiency can vary a bit depending on what kind of chemical you are using and at what application rate. Be sure to read reviews so you know how well the product will work for your lawn. 


Last but not least, be sure to read the details on what type of stump killer you are buying. Some are rated just for one use while others can be used multiple types. Some are meant for homeowners while others are industrial grade. Consider your preferences when you buy.

Alternatives to Stump Killers 

If you’re not fond of the idea of using a tree stump killer chemical on your lawn, the good news is that you do have other options. However, these may not be quite as fast-acting as effective as tree stump killers – and in some cases, may require more manual labor.

For example, some people choose to use Epsom salts to kill tree stumps. This method really only works well on roots, since it takes far too long on an entire stump. However, Epsom salts are non-toxic and organic, making them a good option for gardeners who are looking for a more eco-friendly approach.

In some cases, you may be able to burn out a stump, too. This method works better if you’ve already gotten the decomposition process started with your tree stump killers. However, by cutting a grid on top of the tree, you can create crevices for the flames to follow so you can speed up the process somewhat.

Of course, you can always use a stump grinding machine to get rid of a stump, too. By far, this is the fastest method of removing a tree stump – but also the most expensive. Purchasing this kind of machine will set you back several thousand dollars or you can rent one for a few hundred dollars a day. 

It’s a good option if you have several stumps to remove – or if you have stumps that you need gone immediately. 

Best Tree Stump Killers of 2021

1. Bonide Stump Out Stump & Vine Killer

Bonide Stump Out Stump & Vine Killer
Active Ingredient: Triclopyr, triethylamine salt 8.8%

Bonide Stump Out Stump & Vine Killer uses a selective systemic herbicide (Triclopyr) that is taken up quickly by roots, shoots, and foliage of target plants. With a convenient easy applicator cap killing your unwanted woody plants, stumps, and vines is simple.

$14.70 from

Why DoMyOwn? offers professional-grade insecticides to DIYers while ensuring proper storage of chemicals. Couple that with their impressive customer service and knowledgeable staff, it’s the #1 choice.

By far, Bonide is the best tree stump killer you can use. However, what many people don’t realize is that it also can be used on vines and weeds. This product gets rid of stumps and stops them from reporting while also eliminating other kinds of plants such as kudzu, brush, and broadleaf weeds. 

Perfect for brushy areas, it comes with a convenient easy applicator cap so you don’t have to worry about spilling it in unwanted places. It has a systemic herbicide known as triclopyr that is rapidly absorbed by shoots, roots, and foliage of plants. 

You can use it to get rid of poison oak and poison ivy. To apply, you’ll just cover the freshly cut surface of a stump and leave it there to work its way in. You do need to be careful about not letting it come into contact with desirable plants. 


  • Contains triclopyr and triethylamine salt
  • Can be applied at a rate of 4-8 oz per gallon of water for every 500 square feet
  • Sold in one 8 oz bottle size
  • Pet safe when used as directed


  • Can be applied to a stump and as a foliar spray for vines and weeds 
  • Works rapidly (sometimes in just a couple of days) 
  • Doesn’t hurt nearby plants when used as suggested


  • Not sold in Vermont, Hawaii, and Alaska
  • Doesn’t always kill roots

2.  Ferti-Lome Brush Killer And Stump Killer

Ferti-lome Brush Killer and Stump Killer
Active Ingredient: Triclopyr, triethylamine salt 8.8%

Fertilome Brush Killer and Stump Killer is used to control woody plants, vines and broadleaf weeds around homes, cabins, fences, walkways, and other non-crop areas. Plants die in 1 to 6 weeks.

$16.95 from

Why DoMyOwn? offers professional-grade insecticides to DIYers while ensuring proper storage of chemicals. Couple that with their impressive customer service and knowledgeable staff, it’s the #1 choice.

This stump killer by Ferti-Lome is another excellent option that includes triclopyr as an active ingredient, along with triethylamine salt. 

It can be used on tree stumps of all kinds, including alder, dogwood, ash, elderberry, aspen, oak, and more, and can also be used on several types of weeds, from wild lettuce to dandelion and even ragweed.

You do need to be careful using this product around crop areas and flowers, as it can kill or otherwise contaminate these plants. 


  • Sold in a pint and quart size
  • Apply at a rate of 8-16 tbsp per gallon for every 500 square feet of area
  • Kills plants and stumps in just one to six weeks 


  • Versatile and can be used on other kinds of brush, like poison ivy and vines
  • Affordable
  • Easy to brush on liquid form


  • Large stumps require multiple applications
  • Can kill all kinds of nearby plants

3. Grow More Stump Remover 13 – 0- 44

Grow More Stump Remover 13 – 0- 44
Active Ingredient: Nitrogen – 13% Potassium – 44%

Grow More Stump Remover will quicken the decomposition process of the stump so it can be easily removed. This product comes in a 1-pound jar and contains Potassium Nitrate as its active ingredient.

$15.11 from

Why DoMyOwn? offers professional-grade insecticides to DIYers while ensuring proper storage of chemicals. Couple that with their impressive customer service and knowledgeable staff, it’s the #1 choice.

Last but not least is this stump remover by Grow More. It’s different from the other two options we’ve told you about because it contains nitrogen and potassium (at ratios of 13% and 44%) as active ingredients instead of triclopyr.

Grow More Stump Remover can get rid of unwanted stumps with ease, speeding up the process of decomposition so you can easily remove an unsightly tree. It is shipped in a one-pound jar. 

Unfortunately, there are quite a few states to which this product cannot legally be shipped, including New York, Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, and more. 

Otherwise, it’s a good choice that will help you see results in as little as two weeks. 


  • Effective for use on tree stumps of all kinds
  • Contains nitrogen and potassium as active ingredients
  • Sold in a one-pound jar


  • A little of this product goes a long way
  • Works in as little as two weeks
  • Speeds up decomposition process
  • Easy to apply


  • Not available in many states
  • Should not be applied on or near any desirable plants

How to Use Stump Killers

If you’re planning on using a chemical stump killer to remove your stumps, you’ll want to pay close attention to the instructions on the package of the product you’ve purchased. That’s because these instructions can vary widely between brands and there’s nothing worse than assuming you know what you’re supposed to be doing – only to get it wrong! However, in most cases, there are a few simple, seamless steps you can follow.

Start by cutting off as much of the top of the stump as you can with your chainsaw. Then, use a drill with a one-inch spade and extension to drill holes into the stump. Try to space these out as evenly as possible, ideally about every seven or eight inches along the perimeter of the stump. These holes should be about a foot deep.

After that, drill a few more holes about three to four inches down from the rim, drilling at a 45-degree angle so that the new holes connect with the first holes you drilled. This will help contain your chemicals and make sure they don’t just spill out onto the ground.

Next, you’ll pour around three or four ounces of your tree stump killer into the holes (this is where it’s important to read the label on your product, as instructions can vary depending on the brand, dosage, and formulation of your product). 

Wait about four to six weeks. The goal of the chemicals is to speed up the process of decomposition, so the exact amount of time it takes to get rid of the stump will vary depending on several factors, such as the age, condition, and species of the tree as well as what kind of chemicals you are applying.

After the chemicals have done the job (you’ll know they’re finished working when the stump is soft and spongy), you can break up the rotten wood and roots with a felling ax. 

If you’re like me, there are few things more frustrating than seeing a pesky tree stump on your lawn. Tree stumps can be the bane of a gardener’s existence and it may seem impossible to get rid of them for good. 

However,  with time and patience, you might be able to find the best tree stump killers available – so you can finally put an end to all of those unsightly stumps.


What is the best product to kill tree stumps?

There is no single best product when it comes to killing tree stumps. However, any of the products we listed in this review article should do a good job of taking care of your problem. Look for those that contain ingredients like triclopyr for the quickest, most reliable results. 

What to put on a tree stump to make it rot?

In addition to the best tree stump killers we recommended above, there are a few other products you can put on a tree stump to make it rot.
It’s important that you actually understand how these itesm work, though, as some may not be as effective as you think. Some people, for instance, recommend using bleach on tree stumps. While bleach might ill a few branches, it won’t kill the roots, nor will it take care of the rest of the stump.
You can use natural things like Epsom salt to get rid of these trumps – even copper nails drilled into a stump will take care of the problem (at least for a small tree). Ultimately, a chemical stump killer is the most efficient and economical option for most. 

What’s in the tree stump killer?

Tree stump killers contain a variety of ingredients, but most of the time, the active ingredient is potassium nitrate. Potassium nitrate contains nitrogen, potassium, and oxygen, helping to rapidly decrease the natural time it takes a stump to decay from several years all the way down to four to six weeks (and sometimes even less). 
There are some stump killers that contain systemic herbicides, too. Typically, this is triclopyr, which can be applied directly to a fresh cut on a stump.

How long does it take to kill a tree stump?

That depends on the method you are using. In most cases, when using a chemical tree stump killer, it will take around four to six weeks for a stump to completely decompose and die. This can vary depending on whether you go back and apply the chemical again or just stick to a one-time application. 


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