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Stump removal, which is lesser evil?

 
Posts: 39
Location: Central Virginia, USA
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So I have a lot of trees to take down in order to get access to my property (read this as building a driveway), and building a home. I can take the trees down myself with a chainsaw. This will leave stumps, obviously. The second option is to have someone come in with heavy equipment and push the trees over. If I do it myself there are really not a lot of practical options to remove the stumps. The mopst effective is probably drilling holes in the stump and adding potassium nitrate which will help break down the the stump over about two months.

Cutting them down myself and leaving stumps:
pros:
-No damage to surrounding tree roots from heavy equipment (this creates more standing dead trees which were once valuable live trees)
-less work if you are patient, you just let the oxidizer (potassium nitrate) do it for you.
-stump rots and leaves a smallish sink hole you can then fill in
-cheap as far as cost
-small area of effect

Cons:
-using potassium nitrate, which is an oxidizing chemical (also used as a fertilizer)
-take time for the stump to rot (2 months)

Using heavy equipment:
Pros:
-stumps gone in a day to days
-no chemicals directly into soil (unless you have a diesel or oil spill/leak)
-holes that are created can be quickly filled

Cons
-very expensive to either rent it or hire someone to use it
-compacts the soil where you do not want it compacted
-large area of effect (destructive and imprecise)
-dangerous in the hands of the untrained
-can leave very large hole which can make the land look like a moonscape

Any feedback would be much appreciated. I realize that we will eventually need the heavy equipment for building the driveway and foundation, but I would like to minimize the impact and cost. removing trees and stumps is VERY EXPENSIVE.

Diego
 
gardener
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Location: Midcoast Maine, Zone 5b
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Burn baby burn!
 
author
Posts: 946
Location: 6200' westen slope of colorado, zone 6
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What I have done with removing large diameter apple trees, it to cut them off with a chainsaw at about 3 feet above ground level. Cutup the tree for firewood. Let the remaining stump die completely and rot somewhat in the ground for a couple years. Many of the long feeder roots will rot away in this time. I then use a tractor to push over the stumps, cut them up with a chainsaw, and use for firewood.

The advantage to using time to assist the process is that many of the roots rot on their own, so the hole you leave is much smaller than if you ripped out a live tree. And also, you can use a much smaller machine to get the stump out.

just a thought, dont know if you have time or not. good luck!
 
Posts: 488
Location: Foothills north of L.A., zone 9ish mediterranean
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Cut a big hole in the center with chainsaw/drill/chisels/fire, whatever. Then use it as your composting toilet for a week. Innoculate with fungi & bacteria. Then build a big compost pile or hugel on top and plant into it.
 
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Have you thought of digging around each tree and cutting off below ground level?
 
Posts: 3366
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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What about renting a stump grinder? You get the firewood, no big equipment compaction, and faster than chemical stump remover.

Or you can burn

Or you can blow them up--stump remover is one of the "few household chemicals in the proper proportions" but I already said too much...

 
pollinator
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I hesitated on weighing in until now, because my method of stump removal isn't very fast. And it sounded like expeditious removal of the stump was what was required.

But if you have a lot of time, you can use the fungal method and drill holes in the stump and pack it with mushroom spawn. That way it will break down as nature intended, just a little bit faster. And when it gets to being "mostly broken down" (if you need more definition of that, ask Miracle Max about the difference between "mostly broken down" and "mostly dead"), you can always do hugelkultur-in-place and make the stump an explosion of nasturtiums or squash vines.
 
Diego de la Vega
Posts: 39
Location: Central Virginia, USA
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Thanks for all the suggestions so far. I truly do appreciate your advice!

I will not be using explosives for sure! In my mind that is more destructive than anything else. Just think of the chemicals released into every part of your land, air, water. My area is quite moist and i know quite a few people who have tried to burn out stumps. It does not work here. The roots keep soaking up water and feeding them to the stump. It is very difficult to keep the fire going without (petroleum products), and even after burning it for a week, the stump remains! The last thing I want to do is pour gasoline into the dirt! Besides who has time to tend a fire that lasts for DAYS!. I have a whole lot of stumps to deal with here.

Does anyone know how bad potassium nitrate is? Potassium and nitrogen are naturally occurring elements and both are necessary for plant and human life. I am just not sure what to do and do not want there to be any long term effects.

I believe mushrooms would be a great way to do it, albeit, way to slowly for this phase of things. Later on that is really a fantastic idea.

Diego
 
John Elliott
pollinator
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Diego de la Vega wrote:
Does anyone know how bad potassium nitrate is? Potassium and nitrogen are naturally occurring elements and both are necessary for plant and human life. I am just not sure what to do and do not want there to be any long term effects.

Diego



Potassium nitrate is not a "bad" chemical, unless you plan on eating it. And you are right, both the K part and the NO3 part are metabolized by plants so there are biochemical pathways that will remove it over time. So there goes your concern about "any long term effects".

Potassium nitrate, like ammonium nitrate, can be dangerous if you don't know about the explosion hazard. They are strong oxidizing agents, meaning if you have something that can burn, they will oxidize (burn) it, and in doing so can release a lot of heat. If you mix potassium nitrate with sawdust, powdered magnesium, wood shavings, charcoal, sulfur, candle wax, etc., and hold a lighted match to it -- KA-BOOM!! Of course, if you dissolve it in water and pour it on a tree stump, the explosion hazard goes away because you don't have two well mixed solids waiting for a source of detonation.
 
pollinator
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Location: Chicago/San Francisco
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> driveway

How deep/wide? The dozer might not affect much more area than it takes to get in and get out - just about the right width for a drive. It will also (potentially) leave you with a completed driveway, especially if you arrange to have any gravel or other needed enhancements delivered head of time. I've never heard of trees dying off next to a new driveway; then there's the future material delivery trucks and concrete trucks and such. IOW, the dozer's weight may not really impact things that much considering...

However, if you're really sure about the two months to chemically decompose, why that's practically instantaneous in the great scheme of things! But that time line sounds a bit optimistic... How did you arrive at the two months figure?


Rufus
 
Diego de la Vega
Posts: 39
Location: Central Virginia, USA
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Rufus Laggren wrote:> driveway

How deep/wide? The dozer might not affect much more area than it takes to get in and get out - just about the right width for a drive. It will also (potentially) leave you with a completed driveway, especially if you arrange to have any gravel or other needed enhancements delivered head of time. I've never heard of trees dying off next to a new driveway; then there's the future material delivery trucks and concrete trucks and such. IOW, the dozer's weight may not really impact things that much considering...

However, if you're really sure about the two months to chemically decompose, why that's practically instantaneous in the great scheme of things! But that time line sounds a bit optimistic... How did you arrive at the two months figure?


Rufus



I have a friend that has used this technique, but I have never done it.

Diego
 
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dude if you are cutting a driveway an operator can do it without going more than a few feet off the road. Ive cut many roads through the woods from New york to hawaii without a 'large area of effect'.

the lowest impact method is to fell the trees but leave a high enough stump to wrap a chain or rigging around. Then pull that sucker out with a D6 dozer.

the shoulder of your driveway will recover quickly if you grade it out and seed it. maybe some nice clover, wildflowers and yarrows
 
Posts: 41
Location: Slippery Rock, PA
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Well, one method I've read about but haven't had the occasion to try, involves using a small soil auger, a big bucket of corn, a portable pen, and a very large hog. Drill holes under the stump, fill them with corn, set up the pen, and let the hog dig them out -- they are reported to be able to rip up stumps weighing over 100 pounds to get to the corn.
 
Posts: 28
Location: Southern Oregon, 6a/6b
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It seems to me the obvious solution here would be to just dig about 6 inches of soil and debris from around the base of the tree, and cut it flesh with the ground, or within a few inches such that you could drive over them, and just let it rot at you make use of the drive way over the years.

That avoids all the issues you just listed as far as destruction/damage/too much time/pollution etc.

And it takes what? an extra 20-30 minutes per stump if the trees are very very large. Seems like the way to go if you ask me, least it's what I've always done. If you split the remaining stump with a maul a few times it'll rot exponentially faster.
 
Zachary Morris
Posts: 28
Location: Southern Oregon, 6a/6b
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Other than what I just listed this is the most economical in my experience. The next step down is to do it with a full size truck and cut some of the larger surface roots to release it. I've ripped out 14" diameter stumps with my 4x4 V6 Exploder, you should be able to do some pretty sizeable stuff with a one ton pick up and some roots cut.

Rich Pasto wrote:dude if you are cutting a driveway an operator can do it without going more than a few feet off the road. Ive cut many roads through the woods from New york to hawaii without a 'large area of effect'.

the lowest impact method is to fell the trees but leave a high enough stump to wrap a chain or rigging around. Then pull that sucker out with a D6 dozer.

the shoulder of your driveway will recover quickly if you grade it out and seed it. maybe some nice clover, wildflowers and yarrows

 
steward
Posts: 7926
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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If you hire an experienced dozer operator, he can do it quicker than just about anything, with little to no damage to surrounding areas. The areas that get compacted will be the bed of your road, which you will want compacted.

I have heard of people using the 'chemical' methods, and 2 years later, they still had stumps obstructing what will some day be their road. The advertisements might say "a couple of months" (which may be true for balsa wood!), but the reality is it will probably take much longer.

A good dozer operator can be in and out of there in a day or two, and give you a road that will last for years with minimal maintenance. Considering the time savings, in the long run, it will probably be cheaper than the DIY methods that may take you a year or more to establish a decent road.

 
pollinator
Posts: 4154
Location: Northern New York Zone4-5 the OUTER 'RONDACs percip 36''
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Diego de la Vega : I am sharing this from an online article 'Erie Canal Time Machine'

The stump removal device had a huge axle, 30' long and 20'' in diameter - supported by
two wheels both 16 feet tall. In the middle of the axle was mounted a third wheel ,14 feet
in diameter.Workers placed the machine over the stump, and then attached the stump to
chains wrapped around the axle. Draft animals pulled a stout rope wound round the center
wheel and thus ripped the stump out of the ground !

Without one of these machines you can fence in pigs around the stumps, use an iron bar to ream out a hole in the ground under the stump the size
of a Corn Cob with the corn still on it, pack a little dirt over it, and with just a few bushels of Whole kernel Corn you should have all of the stumps
rooted out for you in a few weeks, of course if you want to move those stumps very far you are still going to need a dozer, the tracks distribute the
weight, and there really is not that much compaction !

If you want to do it on the cheap, and are even willing to prepare the corn holes, and to feed your neighbors pigs you can probably struck a deal !

For the Crafts ! Big AL late note check out the similar Threads at the bottom of this page ! A. L.
 
pollinator
Posts: 8193
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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I used an excavator with a thumb to clean up about 3000 small trees and stumps along my road. The material was processed into big muddy slash piles that I call hugelkultur. A good excavator operator can sort material, break up material and grade the road, all at once. My guy lives on my property and free machine time is part of the deal.

If there are millable logs, they can be easily moved into piles or loaded onto a trailer. A dozer is useful for moving dirt and rocks, but an excavator is vastly more useful when good logs are mixed with slash and stumps. Larger rocks that are to be used for higher uses than fill, may be easily set aside with a bucket. A dozer can push them into a muddy mess but can't pile them on a truck or elsewhere.

Allen mentioned compaction --- Even a very large tracked machine puts a smaller load on a given point than do the tires of a pick up truck. When compacting ground, the rounded outer edge of the bucket is rammed into the ground. This hammering compacts the soil much more than if it were driven on. The reason the machines have tracks is so they don't sink in the mud as any heavy machine with tires is prone to.
 
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But the funnest way would be with thermite! He he he
 
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David Hartley wrote:But the funnest way would be with thermite! He he he



I actually did try thermite, but there was not enough oxygen to finish the job!

So here's my suggestion to get rid of tree stumps: https://youtu.be/tFjEjUwiueM

 
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Got a New Homestead? Here is What You Need to Know to Before You Start a Homestead
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