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Dallas Morning News - January 30, 2020

Stump Removal the Natural Way


Ok – you’ve cut down the unwanted or destroyed tree – now how to keep it from suckering and trying to grow back?


Stump killing can be done any time of the year - without toxic chemicals. Have you ever thought about why anyone would recommend a toxic chemical when there are highly effective non-toxic things that work as well or better?


Toxic stump remover

These products are dangerous


Many of you know that my daughter Logan has been my radio announcer since she was in the 2nd grade and one of her intros says that some people are still recommending things they learned 30 years ago, but the Dirt Doctor talks about things he learned last year or yesterday. This applies to toxic herbicides more than anything maybe.


The "slow to learn" recommend pouring 2,4-D or glyphosate herbicides on the stumps. Taught that toxic approach in school years ago, they still recommend it. 2,4-D was a major ingredient of Agent Orange. Roundup is the most insidious herbicide of our lifetime. It kills healthy gut life in animals – including people - and leads to all kinds of major diseases. Skeptical? Look at the data we provide on


Better plan? Hiring an arborist or tree care company to use a stump grinder is the fastest and best choice. It only takes a few minutes and the stump is gone, but there are other methods that can work well for homeowners.


Stump grinding is fast and is the best choice


Saltpeter (potassium nitrate) is an effective choice. When applied to stumps it stimulates wood decomposition, breaking it down quickly, giving complete kill.


Use a 1/2" drill for holes at least 4 inches deep and apart into the stump. Drill holes on top and the sides of the stump at a downward angle. Fill the holes with saltpeter.


1/2" holes bored in stump

Saltpeter, sugar, or molasses will work


Pour water slowly over the saltpeter so it will be absorbed throughout the stump. Refill the holes as necessary. Burning charcoal briquettes can be added on top to speed up the process but can be dangerous and really isn’t necessary. After treatment, covering the stump with shredded mulch can help.


Break the stump apart for removal as it decomposes. By the way – sugar, especially molasses, and fertilizer put in the holes will also do the job but takes longer.


Saltpeter, sugar, or molasses

Saltpeter, sugar, or molasses


The bad news is that this stuff is somewhat hard to find. Maybe part of it is that potassium nitrate is one of the ingredients in gunpowder.


Spectracide and HighYield products, both called Stump Remover, found in some garden centers and hardware stores are potassium nitrate. Some web sites such as sell potassium nitrate on-line and the prices look reasonable.





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