How to burn a tree stump: An in-depth guide

So, you’re considering cheaper alternatives to remove a tree stump from your garden or property. Over many years of providing “tree removal services” to customers in the home counties and London, we often get asked about different ways to remove tree stumps without the need of a professional.

We understand how difficult times are for families right now. Many people across the UK are looking for ways to stretch their money further during this cost of living crisis which is why we want to write this article. So without further ado, we are going to talk about how to burn a tree stump:

burning a tree stump is permanent

How to burn a tree stump

To burn tree stumps, you want to first dig around the stump so that you can expose as much of the surface and roots as possible. The more surface area exposed, the easier it will be for it to burn. Here is the process summarised:

  1. Dig around the stump to expose more of the stump and its roots
  2. Drill holes into the top, sides and roots of the stump as deep as you can
  3. Don’t burn your stump in dry seasons, October is best as it is moist underfoot and this will prevent the fire from spreading
  4. Fill your stump with charcoal
  5. Make sure your fire is controlled
  6. Give it time
  7. Let the fire burn itself out once the stump is gone
tree stump removal methods

Dig around the stump for maximum exposure

When digging around the stump, it is important to expose as much of the surface and roots as possible. This will help the fire to spread more evenly and effectively and will help to speed up the process of burning the stump.

Using a shovel, start to dig around the stump, being careful not to damage any nearby plants or flowers. You want to create a hole that is about a foot deep and a foot wide all the way around the stump.

If you can’t make the hole too wide, that’s okay, just make sure that you expose as much of the surface area of the stump as possible.

You may even find that you are able to get under the stump completely exposing some of the larger roots that hold it in place.

dig around the stump for maximum exposure

Drill holes into the top, sides and roots of the stump

Essentially, you want to drill holes all over the exposed stump so that you can give the charcoal more of a chance to be absorbed. Using a power drill, drill holes that are about an inch in diameter into the top, sides and any roots that are exposed.

You want to make sure that you drill the holes deep enough so that they can properly penetrate the stump. If you can, try to angle the holes so that they go in at a downward angle. This will help the charcoal space down into the stump more effectively.

We usually aim for the drill to go down as much as 20cm so that the charcoal has a good chance of being soaked up.

drilling tree stump

Don't burn your stump in dry seasons

One of the most important things to remember when burning an old tree stump is that you should never try to do it in a dry season. The ground should be moist so that there is less chance of the fire spreading.

The best time to try and burn a tree stump is usually in October as this is when the ground is moist but less of a chance of consistent rainfall. It’s also worth trying to do it after a rain shower if possible. This will help to keep the ground moist and will make it easier to control the fire.

For example, if you have looked at the weather forecast and can see a 3-4 day window of no rainfall, this would be a perfect opportunity as there will be no rain to douse your fire. After the burning is complete, the next periods of rain will help extinguish the smouldering remains.

Fill your stump with charcoal

Once you have drilled the holes into the stump, it’s time to start filling it with charcoal. You want to be generous with the amount of charcoal that you use as this will help to speed up the burning process.

We recommend using a something bought online or something similar so that you can control the amount of charcoal being placed into the stump. Start by putting charcoal over the top of the stump and then work your way around, filling each of the holes that you have drilled.

Once you have done this, leave the stump for 20 minutes so that the charcoal has a chance to sit in place. Make sure you use a pre-lit piece of wood so that you make the stump catch fire – just be careful when you do this.

use a petrol can to burn stump

Make sure your fire is controlled

It’s really important to continually check to see how well your stump is burning. It may be a little boring but it’s worth it to make sure that everything is going according to plan.

One thing to look out for is if the fire starts to spread too far from the burned stump. If this happens, you will need to use a shovel to dig a trench around the outside of the burning area. This will help to stop the fire from spreading any further.

Another thing to keep an eye on is how much fuel you are using. If the fire starts to die down, you may need to add more scrap wood or even newspaper so that it can continue burning.

shovel a ditch to control the fire

Give it time

Once you have started your fire, it’s important to give it time to do its job. Depending on the size of the stump, it could take anywhere from 12 hours to 4 days for the entire stump to completely burn through.

Let the fire burn itself out once the stump is gone

Once the stump has been completely burned through, you will need to let the fire burn itself out. This could take anywhere from 12-24 hours so it’s important to be patient.

You can speed up the process by using a garden hose to douse the area with water but we recommend just letting the fire burn out on its own.

So hopefully this article has given you more insight into how to burn a tree stump. If you have any questions or want to get a quote from a professional tree stump removal company, then feel free to reach out. Happy burning!

garden hose can control stump fire