Felling a tree, particularly a large, old hardwood tree, can be an exhausting and laborious prospect. It can be disheartening to put in all that hard work and still be left with an ugly, awkward tree stump on your land. A dead tree stump isn't just an unsightly blot on your garden, lawn or playing field -- it can also be a breeding ground for damaging fungal growths, which can attack nearby trees and cause respiratory problems if the spores are inhaled.

Fortunately, removing a tree stump need not require a lot of backbreaking digging and root chopping. Tree removal companies offer a range of stump removal services, so you're likely to find a solution to remove even the most stubborn and unyielding stumps.

Stump grinding

If you're after a quick and easy solution to your stump problem and are willing to pay a little extra for the privilege, stump grinding is hard to beat. Most stump grinders intended for residential use outwardly resemble common lawnmowers, but look underneath and you'll find a fearsome looking cutting disc that burrows deep into the wood of a stump and destroys it from within.

Stump grinders are available in a range of sizes, from small, hand-pushed machines up to truck-mounted destroyers, so you're sure to find a grinder capable of rooting out even the largest stumps. Smaller machines can even be hired for personal use and operated yourself, although donning safety equipment such as safety goggles, ear protectors and robust gloves is highly recommended if you choose this option. The greatest advantage of choosing a grinder, however, is speed - small stumps can be completely pulverised in a matter of minutes, and even the toughest woods shouldn't take more than a couple of hours to destroy.

However, if you are tackling a particularly large stump, calling in a professional stump grinder is often necessary, as larger grinders require professional licenses. Needless to say, this can up the costs of your stump grinding project dramatically. Stump grinders will also leave large, ragged holes in the ground once the stump has been removed, and can damage nearby plants and structures, so they may not be suitable for removing stumps from small gardens or lawns.

Stump burning

Burning a stump while still in the ground may seem somewhat unrefined, but it's no less effective for that. There are two common methods for burning out a tree stump:

  • Drilling holes in the stump and filling them with kerosene or fuel oil (not petrol or diesel, which burn too fiercely). Once prepared, a stump can be burnt out in a couple of days with nothing more than a match. However, you will need to wait days or even weeks for the fuel to completely penetrate the wood, and any fuel which escapes into the soil can drastically alter soil chemistry and damage plants.
  • Building a wooden bonfire over the stump (often with wood from the recently felled tree). This method is quicker and doesn't require any fuel other than wood, but you will need to closely supervise the fire to make sure it doesn't go out or spread. 

Whichever method you choose, bear in mind that this is an inherently dangerous procedure, and may be banned in some areas due to local fire safety laws. In places where stump burning is legal, calling in professional assistance can make the process quicker and safer. Burning is only really suitable for long-dead stumps, as recently felled trees will be too moist to burn properly.

Chemical stump removal

If time isn't a constraint, using stump removal chemicals is cheap, easy and requires very little effort. In this method, potassium nitrate solution is poured into deep holes drilled into the stump, and left for several weeks. The potassium nitrate acts as an oxidising agent and rapidly speeds the decaying process of the dead wood. Once suitably softened, simply hack the stump out with an ax or mattock - softwood stumps may even be weakened enough to pull out by hand.

However, this method is not suitable if your stump is in a garden used by young children or bets, as touching or ingesting potassium nitrate can cause serious illness and skin complaints. It is also entirely possible that only part of the stump starts to rot, usually because the holes drilled were too shallow. If this happens, you may be forced to burn out the remaining wood.

For more information on tree removal, contact a company like http://www.heritagetreecare.com.au.