There are many ways to rot a tree stump fast, while some people simply have no idea how to rot a tree stump fast in the first place. A rotten tree stump can be an unsightly mess especially when it is the result of elemental damage such as storms and typhoons.

How To Rot A Tree Stump Fast

Tree stumps can be eyesores for many homeowners and passersby, while there is an undeniable bohemian quality to them, tree stumps are not always wanted in many gardens.

Hence, gardeners are often on the lookout for the best ways to make stumps rot faster, keep reading to learn more.

How To Rot A Tree Stump Fast

There are many household items that can be used to rot tree stumps quickly. These household items are usually surprisingly inexpensive as well, allowing many homeowners to successfully decompose tree stump pieces.

Here, we will list down several home remedy items and techniques which are known to help in the decay a tree stump .

– Tree Stump Cover

You can use any kind of covering, as long as the covering blocks the sun. Trees require sunlight to live, so by covering the tree stump with a light-blocking material, you deprive it of sunlight and ensure its eventual death.

This method can take over a year to begin killing off the tree. Moreover, this technique is highly recommended for homeowners who have patience as well as the preference for natural ways to rot tree stumps.

– Epsom Salt

The use of Epsom salt has been used frequently by many gardeners to rot down tree stumps. Epsom salt accelerates the decomposition stages by up to a year as opposed to natural rotting, which can take three to seven years.

Note that Epsom salt is not real salt, since it is composed of magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen. It is often called a salt due to its crystalline characteristic, which resembles the true salt.

The chemical components in Epsom salt encourage plant growth when applied in moderation. In large doses, Epsom salt can cause plants to perish, drawing away valuable nutrition from the plant or tree. This characteristic makes the Epsom salt ideal in rotting out tree stumps.

– How To Use Epsom Salt To Rot Tree Stumps

Here are the steps which you can follow to use Epsom salt as a method to rot tree stumps:

Rotting a tree Stump

  1. You will need to drill deep holes into the tree stump, you can use a wide drill bit on a power drill. The holes need to be an inch wide at the least to ensure faster rotting. Drill as many holes as you can, keeping each hole approximately one inch apart from the others.
  2. Cover the stump and fill the holes with Epsom salt.
  3. You will need to sprinkle some water on the tree stump covered with Epsom salt. Add enough water to saturate the Epsom salt without turning the Epsom salt into liquid.
  4. Sprinkle more Epsom salt on the base of the tree stump. Make sure that the Epsom salt is fully concentrated on the base and away from neighboring plants. If there are any, you may opt to skip placing Epsom salt near the base of the tree stump.
  5. Securely cover the stump to keep the rain from washing away the Epsom salt. You can use heavy-duty tarpaulin or other forms of covers such as buckets and pails.
  6. Monitor the tree stump every few weeks.
  7. Repeat steps one to five until the stump displays obvious signs of rot.

This process can kill the tree stump within two to three months if done correctly. The whole tree stump can also show signs of decay as quickly as within a year, depending on many factors such as the size and species of the tree stump.

Some tree stumps have been quickly rotted and eliminated as quickly as within one to two months, although many conditions affect the outcome. Once the moisture is drawn away from the tree stump, removing it from the ground makes the whole process easier.

In summary, using Epsom salt to decompose tree stumps is a wonderful solution for homeowners who prefer a more natural approach to getting rid of tree stumps.

– Rock Salt

Some gardeners prefer to use rock salt instead of Epsom salt, since rock salt is also hydrophilic, which means it attracts water. This particular property of rock salt makes it highly effective in drying out tree stumps for easier removal at a later date.

– How To Use Rock Salt To Rot Tree Stumps

Similar to Epsom salt, you will need to do the following steps in order to rot tree stumps using rock salt:

  1. Drill holes into the tree stump using a wide drill bit on a power drill. The holes should be as deep as possible with a width of at least an inch. Drill as many holes as possible, keeping each hole approximately an inch away from other holes.
  2. Pack the holes with rock salt, and cover the surface of the tree stump with rock salt as well.
  3. Place soil and mulch over the salt-covered tree stump.
  4. Pour water over the soil and mulch. Ensure that the water is enough to keep the salt wet but not enough to wash it away. The water will help the tree stump absorb water, which will eventually dehydrate the tree stump and kill it.
  5. You can also cover the tree stump with a tarpaulin or other forms of protection as well if your area is prone to frequent rainfall. This reduces the chances of rain washing the rock salt away from the tree stump.
  6. Water the tree stump every few days to keep the soil and mulch wet enough to trigger saline absorption. The sodium component and chlorine content in the rock salt are effective plant killers.

While using rock salt is a quick way to rot tree stumps, this method is not highly recommended. Furthermore the rock salt contains certain chemicals that can render the soil extremely inhospitable to plants. The salinity of the soil can be exponentially increased by the presence of rock salt, rendering the soil infertile to many vegetation.

Homeowners are urged to refrain from using this method unless absolutely necessary, and under carefully controlled conditions. This process not only changes the chemical make-up of the soil, but it can also cause the soil to become barren and unproductive.

– Chemical Applications

Some gardeners use chemicals to rot tree stumps since chemicals can be easier and quicker to buy and apply.

High Nitrogen Content Fertilizer

– Potassium Nitrate

Potassium nitrate is definitely the fastest way to rot a stump. This chemical is usually sold commercially as a tree stump remover, potassium nitrate stimulates the decomposition of the wood of the tree.

There are tree stump removers that are specific to the kind of stumps that you wish to eliminate. Some tree stump removers work well on dead stumps, while some concentrate on killing live tree stumps.

However, potassium nitrate is a hazardous chemical and you should handle this with extreme care. Exposure to humans and animals can be dangerous, so it is best to use protective clothing and masks for this activity.

– High Nitrogen Content Fertilizer

Fertilizers with high nitrogen content can kill tree stumps quickly when applied in large amounts. The ammonium nitrate and ammonium sulfate of high-nitrogen content fertilizers quickly make short work of the tree stump. The nitrogen content encourages fungi and bacteria to decompose the wood in the stump, making the whole process quick and easy.

A quick word of caution should be taken that high-nitrogen content fertilizers can be dangerous to human and animal health especially when in large doses. Protective clothing, masks, and equipment should be used when handling these.


How to Get Rid Of Tree Stumps

When a tree stump sits too close to your house or other trees, physical removal of the tree stump may not always be the best option. The activity could damage part of your house and or even the neighboring structures.

Burning tree stumps is also hazardous if done too close to flammable structures and plants or trees. Under ideal conditions, however, burning tree stumps is one of the quickest ways to remove them from the area.

Given that the tree stump you wish to get rid of is near your house or within your garden, using physical removal techniques may not be ideal. Using flammable materials to burn down the tree stump is even more hazardous.

You might benefit from using other methods instead, which we will be listing down for you to assess and evaluate.

What Chemicals Should be Avoided ?

There are some chemicals that can be effective in killing or rotting down tree stumps. However, just because they are effective does not mean they are safe or harmless.

What Chemicals Should be Avoided

Here are some chemicals you need to avoid when killing or trying to get tree stumps to rot:

– Bleach

Bleach is highly effective in killing and rotting down tree stumps when used in high quantities. However, bleach can also destroy and kill surrounding plants.

– Motor Oil

Motor oil is not sold as a tree stump remover nor does it encourage quick rotting. Applying motor oil on the tree stump and the surrounding soil can even have detrimental environmental effects.

– Diesel Fuel

Diesel fuel is highly combustible and is not sold as a tree stump remover. Being a petroleum-based product, applying it on plants and soil can harm your environment.

What Are the Signs of Tree Stump Rot?

Whichever method you have used, you will know when your efforts are coming along nicely when you notice the following signs:

  • Growths on the stump indicate that the tree stump is hosting bacteria and fungi in the form of fuzzy or hairy growths.
  • The tree stump is soft, spongey, and moist to the touch.
  • Pests and insects in the tree stump indicate rot, as pests and insects are drawn to decomposing material for food and shelter.

– What Should be Done Once Your Tree Stump Rots?

Now that you have successfully taken steps to ensure that the tree stump rots, you have two options to take. Both techniques are quite easy and simple to do.

Tree Stump Rots

One, you can let the tree stump decompose in the ground. This means allowing the whole thing to slowly become an enriching agent for the surrounding soil.

Two, you can remove the rotted tree stump. Since the whole tree stump is dead, removing it is easier and takes less time than removing it when the tree stump is still alive.


What chemical best promotes stump rot?

The chemical that promotes stump rot is potassium nitrate.

Do tree roots continue to grow after stump rots?

No, tree roots do not continue to grow after stump rot as the roots rely on the tree for nutrients.

What is the cheapest way to get rid of a tree stump?

The cheapest way to remove a tree stump is by using Epsom salt or drilling holes and filling them with hot water and dish soap.


Tree stumps can be a divisive topic among gardeners and homeowners. Some love the bohemian charm of the tree stump from a fallen tree, while some view the tree stump as an eyesore.

Either way, the tree stump will eventually rot away from exposure to the elements over time. Those who prefer a faster way to rot the tree stump have many options.

Here’s a recap of how to rot a tree stump fast:

  • Covering the tree stump with a light-blocking material can kill the tree stump slowly. This method can take years and is suitable for homeowners who prefer a more natural approach.
  • Using Epsom salt or rock salt can quickly decompose the tree stump, although Epsom salt is a better alternative than rock salt since rock salt can render the surrounding environment barren and infertile.
  • Potassium nitrate is the fastest way to hasten the decay of tree stumps since its chemical composition encourages quick decays on organic material such as wood. Safety precautions should be taken since this product is a health hazard.
  • High-content nitrogen fertilizers are a great alternative to potassium nitrate, although precautionary steps should still be taken since excess amounts can be extremely harmful.
  • Chemicals to avoid when trying to rot tree stumps fast are bleach, motor oil, diesel fuel, and other chemicals that are hazardous to human, animal, and wildlife health.

Now that you’ve learned the many methods in getting tree stumps to rot, we’re sure you can’t wait to use the one that suits you best, hence remember to perform these activities safely, because we know you’ll enjoy your garden landscapes better with great health and gusto. Until then, we wish you many moments of happy gardening!

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