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Old stumps in the ground

 
David Picariello
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I had to cut down 4 trees last summer because they had died. I did not stump grind them yet. I was thinking could i use the method of Hugelkultur while they are still in the ground. Any experts or anyone who has done this any words of encouragement would be great. I don't want to pay for them to be grinded if i can just use them as planting beds? If i can't use this method any one have a cheap way of getting rid of them besides digging them up your self? Thanks
 
Marc Leclair
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Im no expert but that sounds like a great idea. Covering a stump is much easier than removing it.
 
Judith Browning
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Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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Not an expert at all but I am experimenting with plantings at the roots of several white oaks around our house that died and we cut over the last several years. So far what I have planted has done great. I planted a pie cherry out 2-3 feet from one stump but still in the root zone and heritage raspberries a little closer...then creeping thyme, woad (not an edible...a natural dye plant) and oregano. Another stump has more raspberries and chocolate mint so far. It has been two years and everything is thriving...the pie cherry far outgrew the one I planted out with no stump (but planted with clovers, herbs, sunchokes...etc.) All were either started from seed or divisions from my other plantings, including the pie cherry trees that were suckers dug from around another tree. I think it was important that the roots had been dying/decomposing for a bit before planting...I wouldn't expect the same results from a tree cut green. I like seeing the stumps as kind of a monument to those 90 year old trees...really hated losing them.

and welcome to permies David! good to have you here
 
Luke Townsley
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Location: Dugger, IN Zone 6a
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I would agree with Judith. The only real problem I see is that if you are wanting to use the stump as a planter instead of covering it with soil a la Hugelkultur, by the time the tree is decomposed enough to grow in, it likely won't be far from not being able to hold the plants. You may get several years out of it though even unlined depending on species and structure.

To make a stump rot faster from the inside out, cut a depression in the top so it collects water in the middle. You can even drill in to the pith so the water gets inside and soaks into the wood.

If your goal is to get rid of the stump, I would do the above drilling the widest hole I could down to soil level. I would then consider lightly packing the hole with compost or manure or something to get some nitrogen and microbial growth going and then make a regular hugelkulture bed over it. Around here in southern Indiana, I would expect it to be pretty much gone in 3-5 years.
 
Bob Knows
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Luke Townsley wrote:To make a stump rot faster from the inside out, cut a depression in the top so it collects water in the middle. You can even drill in to the pith so the water gets inside and soaks into the wood.

If your goal is to get rid of the stump, I would do the above drilling the widest hole I could down to soil level. I would then consider lightly packing the hole with compost or manure or something to get some nitrogen and microbial growth going and then make a regular hugelkulture bed over it. Around here in southern Indiana, I would expect it to be pretty much gone in 3-5 years.


You can add nitrogen and promote decomposition by peeing on the old stump every couple of weeks. Its easy, handy, and doesn't smell like manure. A few cracks or drilled holes as Luke suggests helps your urine run down into the stump.

Of course you could build a small fire on top of the stump if you aren't in a no-burning area. In fire season roots have been known to burn underground for several days so be careful with fire when its dry out.

Bob
 
casey lem
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Location: under a foil hat
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You could also try inoculating the stump w/ mushroom spawn. After a year some resident fungi have probably already started, but I would give it a try. That's if the tree wasn't already sick from some type of pathogen that might already have set up camp. All the above suggestions are worth their salt too though.
 
Michael Cox
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Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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To some extent your results will depend on the type of tree. Hardwoods will tend to break down comparatively fast in my experience, however some pines seem to never really go.

I was poking around in a pine forest recently. I estimated the established canopy trees to be at least 40 years old. Beneath them you could find the old cut stumps of previous generations, along with thinnings from this planting.

The outer soft wood of the stumps had broken down leaving a pretty indestructible core. The core was really rich in pine resin and essentially waterproof. I bet they would have sat in the soil for another 50 years without breaking down substantially.

I was collecting some for firestarting.
 
David Picariello
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The trees were a popular and sweet gum tree. I not trying to be cheap but I am at the same time. I want to get rid of two of them for sure. I might use one as a planter like you suggested.
 
Kevin Mace
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Location: West Virginia
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I don't mean to hijack this thread, but I have a similar question. I had to cut down a tree and I plan to use that space for a garden. Could I bury the stump and build a hugel bed there? The ground is kinda mounded up there anyway with the roots.
 
Luke Townsley
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Location: Dugger, IN Zone 6a
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Kevin Mace wrote:I don't mean to hijack this thread, but I have a similar question. I had to cut down a tree and I plan to use that space for a garden. Could I bury the stump and build a hugel bed there? The ground is kinda mounded up there anyway with the roots.


Yes, I would unless it was black walnut.
 
Sam Barber
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Are you planning on making the stump a stand alone bed or part of a long hugelkultur? I think it would be cool to see what happens when you just cover the stump up and then plant into it? This could also be a more natural way of getting rid of stumps if you covered the stump up with dirt waited a few yers and then just move all of the dirt along with the stump decayed inside of it to another location.


 
Kevin Mace
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Location: West Virginia
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Sam Barber wrote:Are you planning on making the stump a stand alone bed or part of a long hugelkultur? I think it would be cool to see what happens when you just cover the stump up and then plant into it? This could also be a more natural way of getting rid of stumps if you covered the stump up with dirt waited a few yers and then just move all of the dirt along with the stump decayed inside of it to another location.




I am planning on covering the stump and incorporating it into a larger hugelkultur bed.
 
Gordon Claridge
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If you just want the stump out cheaper than paying someone to grind it off, do you have, or know someone with, a chainsaw?

You don't particularly need a saw with a bar that is significantly longer than the diameter of the stump. I use my 16 inch bar chainsaw on stumps that are wider than this without problems.

If the stump isn't already cut down to within a foot (30cm) of the ground (or even better if it is shorter), do that first.

Now you want to do vertical cuts into the stump in a grid about 2-3 inches (50-75cm) apart, i.e. one set of parallel cuts in one direction, then another set at right angles.

You can start the cuts with the tip of the chainsaw - you start by "drawing the cut with the tip from the side of the stump away from you, and move it back in a straight line toward you (be careful, this is where kickback can occur, particularly if you keep pulling the saw back toward you till it drops off the top of the stump).

Alternate tip cutting with horizontal cutting to even up the depth of the cut, but the tip cutting will do most of the work. The chain needs to be sharp to do this effectively, and if it is then the task is pretty effortless.

If you clear soil and rocks away from around the edge of the stump you can keep the tip cutting pushing down to below ground level. Of course there might be some spaces in the top of the roots under the stump where there is some soil - for this reason I use an old chain on my saw when I do this.

Once you've got the stump gridded with cuts down to at least ground level you have a choice - you can leave it this way to rot down (which will happen much much quicker than before because you have opened the stump up to water and air), or you can attack it with a sledge hammer or a crow bar (don't know if these terms are internationally used, but Australians will know what I mean for sure) to break off the tall narrow "blocks" that you have created - stump's gone. Unless, that is, you want the roots out too. That entails quite a bit of digging and possibly chainsawing individual roots.
 
susan stone
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Location: My garden SW Mich (zone 6a), my kids' - to whom I'm an advisor -Chicago (zone 5)
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I'm also a newbie and was delighted to see this thread. I wonder if anyone knows whether these ideas for "hugelkulturing" tree stumps would also apply to an old yew hedge. Do yew stumps take a particularly long time to decompose?
 
Michael Cox
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In my experience of a yew the heart wood takes a bloody ages to rot. We unearthed some logs that had been accidentally hugeled by th eprevious landowner - 12" diameter, about 8ft long with a round a decade of brush, weeds, debris, lawn clippings etc on top.

When we hauled them out I expected them to be punk but they were unblemished on the inside - lovely deep red colour. We dried them for a year and they were the best logs we ever burned. Long hot fire, better than our english oak.

So, my conclusion was that yew will do what it can to resist rotting. The stumps are likely the same.
 
Christal Jenkins
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Location: Brandon, MS
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Hi! I have planted around stumps for years. I might avoid Walnut and Cedar, but I have had no trouble. The stump just rots away right where it is, feeding everything around it.
 
Cory Allan
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Location: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
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I've done this before I heard about hugelkultur. Lost a large birch specimen in my front yard to old age and rot. Had to cut it down, so I had the stump cut as low as possible and I planted a garden over it. It was sandy soil that had difficulty holding water and lacked organic matter, so i figured it could only help.

The garden did well in this space.
 
John Elliott
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I grew some nice butternut squash in an old stump last year. The snag needed to come down before it fell across the neighbor's driveway, so after we were done picking up the pieces, I backfilled the stump with some dirt (it had rotted quite a bit below grade) and planted some seeds. They grew very well.
 
Rosco Heber
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Location: Arkansas Ozarks
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The easiest, and free way is to burn it out. Your left with ashes which are good fertilizer. Just get a fire going with sticks all around the stump. Depending on type of tree it will take a good while to get enough hot coals burning. Once the stump is really smoldering it might take a week or more to completely burn it out but it will be gone for who knows how many feet down. I've done this several times. Some trees where very hard to get started and I had to keep a fire over them for half a day before it worked.
 
A.J. Gentry
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David Picariello wrote:I had to cut down 4 trees last summer because they had died. I did not stump grind them yet. I was thinking could i use the method of Hugelkultur while they are still in the ground. Any experts or anyone who has done this any words of encouragement would be great. I don't want to pay for them to be grinded if i can just use them as planting beds? If i can't use this method any one have a cheap way of getting rid of them besides digging them up your self? Thanks


David,

Hello.

I have been wondering much the same thing for a while. I thought instead of grinding the stumps could I use them as a vertical mini hugel. I posted a thread asking about it.

After several responses I think what I will do this spring is sew burlap into circles. If the stump is 10 inches in diameter I will add 4-6 inches on each side for soil. So the burlap will be 18 - 24 inches in diameter. I will fill with soil and plant some woody perennials at a 45 degree angle. I am hoping if I use sturdy enough perennials after the stump has decayed the plants roots will still hold them in place vertically.

Check out the thread and let me know what you think.

I will be posting pictures once I get them up. Maybe you could do the same.

A.J.
 
Luke Townsley
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Location: Dugger, IN Zone 6a
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A bit off the original topic, but I wonder if it would be practical to use a Dakota fire pit built next to a stump to burn it out?
 
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