When we moved into the house, there were several stumps that were around the yard. I want to get rid of these stumps. They get in the way of building projects, and are a pain to have to mow around.
One of stump is no longer with us. It had termites, so my wife called in the exterminator. They did some damage to it, but not all that much. I allowed the weeds to grow all over it. I spread compost over it. I didn’t mow it. I just kind of ignored it for about a year. Then one day this Summer, I decided to mow down the weeds. Much to my surprise, as the mower deck went over the stump, a big chunk broke off the stump. Over the course of about a month, each time I would bump the stump with the mower deck, another chunk broke off.
I got to thinking about what was happening. I’m not really sure, but I think that the roots of the weeds helped break the wood apart. I did some searching and found several references to the settlers using pumpkins to break up a stump. I also found reference to ice breaking up stumps. Since I have another stump to get rid of, I decided to do a little un-scientific experiment.
Stump full of holes
I started with a stump that was about 18″x24″. The center of this stump is starting to break down. Mushrooms grow out of the side of this stump, so it is being broken down already.
In early November, I drilled a bunch of 9/16″ holes in the stump. Most of them went into solid wood, but several went through the wood like a hot knife through butter. So at least some of the core of the stump is breaking down.
Hole dug in the stump
We had a couple of freeze/thaw cycles over the past couple of weeks. This broke up the center of the stump a little. So I went to work on the stump.
I used a 3 lb maul to pound on the stump. This told me that the center seemed to be hollowing out a bit. I then grabbed my Cold Steel Kukri machete to chip away with some of the wood. This didn’t get me too far, so I used my pick mattock to really work it over. I ended up digging a big hole in the middle of the stump. As I chipped away wood, I would use the machete to dig the chips out of the hole.
I think that over the winter, these holes will fill with water. The freeze/thaw cycle will break the stump apart a little. By the end of the winter, several pieces of the stump are going to break off fairly easily. I plan on hollowing out the center of the
In the Spring, I will fill the holes with compost and potting soil. The hole in the middle will act like a flower-pot. I’ll plant pumpkin seeds into the holes and the center “pot.” The roots should dig into the stump and cause it to break apart.
Hopefully by Fall I will no longer have to deal with this stump. I will likely have to use my mattock to break it apart, but allowing nature to work on the stump will really cut down on the work I have to do. I’ll report back on the progress in the Spring and again in the fall.