I need to level a patch of ground in order to put in a shed, but there's a large stump right in the middle of where the shed will go.

Since I'm in a suburban setting, dynamite is out, fires are illegal, and I can't get a truck anywhere near the location.

Is there any way to easily remove the stump? I've looked at renting something like a bobcat, but with delivery & pickup I'm looking at $500+.

  • don't forget to fill the hole with few inches soil, inches loose rock, compact it and do it over a few times. Other wise overtime your shed might subside. Best to wait 2-4 weeks watering it or one proper rain fall. You will not regret waiting... - That is if you remove the whole thing.. – Piotr Kula Jun 9 '11 at 9:13

Go to your local rental store and ask for a walk-behind stump grinder. They are easy to use, cheap ($40-50 a day). Get some instruction from the rental store. This machine is self propelled and can get into small areas. Grind out the stump to a few inches below ground grade, then build your shed right over it!!!! Good Luck

  • 2
    The times I've gone in and asked, I've found that our local rental store would not rent me even a hand held screwdriver for anything less than about $60 per day. – user558 Jun 8 '11 at 23:51
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    @woodchips: "hand held screwdriver"??? Are there other types of screwdrivers? – Tester101 Jun 9 '11 at 12:00
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    I assume he means as opposed to a drill with screwdriver bit or similar. – Reid Dec 16 '13 at 0:18

A stump grinder is a good choice, but if that won't work for you, here are some other options:

  • Hire a stump-grinding service. Not exactly in line with this site's DIY ethic, I admit.

  • Get a mattock, a digging bar, and a shovel, and dig it out. This will be hard work, varying with the size of the stump and the type of soil.

  • Use an excavator to dig it out. The smallest excavators will fit through a doorway, so you can probably get it in there. The bigger the excavator, the quicker it will go. It will probably take a while, though.

  • Use a chainsaw to cut it as low as possible. Dirt will dull your chain quickly, so have a couple extras on hand.

  • Raise your shed up enough to get it over the stump. You can store stuff underneath.

  • Use the stump to hold up the shed. It's strong and will last a long time.

  • Rot the stump out. There are techniques to speed this up, including peeing on it! but it will still take a long time.


If the tree was cut down a while ago then there is a good chance it is not as solid in the ground as when it was growing. I have done what @Jay Bazuzi mentions in one of his suggestions and dug it out and it is not too hard (and it is very satisfying when you get it out). Of course this was with a stump that was about 8-10 inches in diameter so depending on what size stump you have this may not be reasonable.

But if you have the time (and feel like a good challenge), just keep digging around the stump and then use an axe to cut away the roots as you get to them. Then use a digging bar (with a piece of a 2x4 or other block to give you leverage) to pry it out of the ground (be careful when pushing down on the digging bar that it does not suddenly pop free and you have a 40 lb javelin flying through the air). You will probably find there is only a couple of large roots that actually need to be cut in order to free it up.

Also if you come across a particularly large root just move out from the stump a little to cut it. The diameter of the root will be much smaller, making it much easier to cut.


The most impressive method would be with a draft horse :)

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People who cut down trees, etc. are really busy after major storms. If the tree is already cut down and taken care of, and all that remains is the stump and roots, avoiding hiring them during one of these "after-storm busy" times. Wait until their business is slow, and they'll cut you an amazing deal -- $100 or so.

I've seen some people attempt to burn them -- cut holes in them, start a fire, do it the next day, over and over again, until it's gone. In my experience, it doesn't work very well.

I've taken care of tree stumps with a 3/4" drill bit and a recip saw, but honestly, it isn't worth the trouble. Unless you like working hard even though it's not going to save you any money, just hire someone.

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