Approximately every third house in Germany is an old building, and there are old trees in front of an old building. Which at some point have to be felled; because they have grown so tall that the room in the attic can be used as a darkroom, or have become so old that they can supposedly be pushed over. Most people have theirs developed – and also have little desire to be responsible for trees that have fallen on passers-by’s heads, so the old tree is felled. A (thick) tree stump will remain, which you can remove, but you don’t necessarily have to remove it.

Does the tree really have to (and can) go?

Before you start thinking about how to remove the tree stump, consider whether you really need to do anything with the tree. Or whether this activity must necessarily be the felling of the tree.

If the tree is only to be removed because it appears to be old, this assessment should be based on knowledge of the expected lifespan of a tree; not just that the tree “looks really old”. This can also only be due to an unfavorable environment (in trees as in people), e.g. B. too little water in dry times or a fungal disease. That can be changed or treated. Perhaps the tree will then be as fresh as a dehydrated person or a person damaged by environmental toxins after a drinking cure.

When the tree can no longer be helped, there is still the question of whether you can simply cut it down. Whether this is allowed is regulated differently from state to state. The quickest way to get an overview is to ask the responsible authority. Always have the information, especially any agreements made using discretion, always in writing.

The thorough solution

When the tree is gone, the stump should also disappear, as quickly and easily as possible.

Solutions that are as quick and simple as possible can be achieved with special machines. This has been around for some time for clearing tree roots, Wurotec GmbH & Co. KG has designed an attachment for excavators with which the tree stump and its roots can be removed both easily and fairly quickly. This so-called root rat is a root hoe that is attached to the front of the excavator arm and uses the full power of the excavator.

The root rat can be installed on most excavators in sizes up to 40 tons. With a special adapter, they can also be attached to the mini excavators that rental service providers offer. Numerous German machine rental stations have excavators with the root rat on offer.

The root rat is said to be able to break down tree stumps very quickly. An oak stump 30 cm high and an impressive 90 cm in diameter should “become history” in less than half an hour. Probably not necessarily with a private person on the excavator who has never practiced excavator precision work.

Unfortunately, the root rat has a very decisive disadvantage: the tree stump must be in a place that you can reach with an excavator. Back in the densely overgrown garden, this is often not possible at all. If a mini excavator can theoretically just fit through, it cannot be used in practice because it would leave a trail of destruction in its wake. The devastation left behind by the root rat should not be underestimated either. The tree stump is gone, as are the strongest side roots, but the brute force used here already leaves a hole with dirt, sand and kindling.

Worth a try

Definitely worth a try is to call your community tree care office. If you’re lucky, they’ll be good enough to put you in touch with the municipal contractor who does dredging for the community.

He, in turn, is often so nice that he drives past you in the course of a municipal order and takes out your tree stumps and takes them with him. For very little money, because he doesn’t have to drive there, you just have to clarify in advance whether he can get to the trees with his vehicles/machines.

Mill away tree stump

If the excavator can’t get to the stump, the next tried and quick method is to use a power tiller – a safe bet anytime you hire a contractor to do this job.

A number of companies that are busy cutting down trees between October and February have a lot of time from March 1st to September 30th. That’s how long the nesting and breeding season lasts, and according to the Nature Conservation Act no trees may be felled during this time. Her tree was probably also felled sometime between October and February, and special permits cause a lot of work and costs. But that doesn’t mean that the tree stump has to disappear immediately, you can and should wait if you want to have a company mill it out. Because in spring/summer the arborists are underemployed. That’s why they offer milling work on special offer.

Take a look around at the offers, with a bit of luck you won’t pay more than around 1.00 euros per centimeter of trunk diameter milled away, plus some travel and, if necessary, disposal costs, this can be faster and cheaper than going to the hardware store to buy a milling machine for rent.

If you work well in advance, you can further reduce the costs: As a rule, the tree stump should be milled away under the ground so that earth can then be applied and flat-rooted plants can be planted. Dig up the stump as much as possible – if the man with the tiller can get started right away, it really doesn’t take long to remove the stump underground.

Even milling

If you’re a DIY enthusiast and enjoy the opportunity to work with heavy equipment, you can rent a pruner at your local hardware store. But beware, some practice with such equipment should be available, and operating a larger power tiller also takes quite a bit of strength.

Motor tillers are usually offered in different sizes, which one you need depends on the type and size of the tree stump. On-site advice will help. For renting a tree stump grinder, you have to calculate around 80 euros.

Remove rootstock

With the tiller, only the tree stump disappears, not its roots in the ground. The rootstock still hinders you, it prevents e.g. B. that you can put plants that develop deep roots in this place. When the tree stump has been felled because an entire plot of land is to be completely rebuilt, the creative gardener often develops the ambition to remove as much of the old roots as possible from his future garden. After all, you don’t want to be slowed down in your creativity, especially not by a few old stumps in the ground.

You can get rid of large chunks of the entire rootstock , fairly quickly too, if you’re ready to spend the next few days “backyard exercising,” spade, shovel, and digging fork in hand.

The rule of thumb by which the root area of ​​a tree is usually calculated gives you a clue as to what you intend to do. The root zone is the area of ​​ground under the crown of the tree plus 1.5 m on all sides. For trees with a narrow crown or columnar shapes, add 5 m on all sides.

If you have cut down an old walnut with a crown of 5 m, this area encompasses a circle with a diameter of 8 m, so according to Adam Riese you can dig up 50.265 square meters of roots. If it was a narrow-crowned poplar with a 2 m crown that claws far into the ground, the calculation results in an area of ​​113.097 square meters. Digging up roots in such an area would no longer have been fun even for a youthful Arnold Schwarzenegger.

But maybe it was just a very small tree and you’ve accumulated enough aggression for extensive digging. Then, starting from the stump, you should dig along the main roots until they become as thin as you want them to be, and use a root saw to saw off the exposed root at both ends. Chop through with a root hoe, clip with pruning shears or an ax depending on how stubborn the roots are.

So root by root, and when they’ve dug all around, invite some hearty friends over. Together with them you pull the roots out of the ground, with bare arm strength and spade, with the support of a hoopoe (double hoe) or a root hoe (the root rat without a digger). Finally, it is the turn of the tree stump, which has now been freed from side branches. A jack placed in the middle can work wonders here.

Totally natural disposal

If you cultivate your garden in a natural way, you probably have little desire to use one of the rather violent methods just described to remove the tree stump.

If you have a lot of gardening patience, you can simply let your tree stump crumble on its own. It is then gradually conquered by fungi, which decompose it. You can speed up this process of decay by making several holes in the tree stump from all sides and from above with the drill. Then it will also get wet on the inside, fungi love moisture, they will colonize the tree stump faster and decompose it faster.

You can also help by wrapping the tree stump in plastic foil in summer. The climate below is a real mushroom paradise. The mushrooms will then work a little faster. You can also help with the colonization itself. You can get some tree fungi from the nearest forest and rub their fruiting bodies on the tree stump. How to transfer the spores to the wood.

Creative alternatives for natural gardeners

If you “dispose of” your stump naturally, it will take a few years. At this time the tree stump can come in handy:

1. The tree stump as a source of food
If it is a deciduous tree, it can be inoculated with mushroom spawn after felling, with oyster mushrooms for example. The tree stump provides you with delicious and healthy mushrooms straight from your own garden.

You can find the mushroom spawn and instructions for inoculating the tree stump online. You should be able to harvest several kilograms of oyster mushrooms from a normal-sized tree stump.

2. The tree stump as a garden decoration
You can use the tree stump, which is slowly becoming earth, as a natural pillar. To do this, position a planter from which blooming plants with overhanging growth such as Elfenspiegel, Deutzia or Dipladenia let their flowers descend.

Of course, it can also be a simple ivy that grows over the tree stump from the ground. It then immediately grows over the ground around it and transforms the whole thing into a tiny green garden landscape.

3. The tree stump as an art object
A chainsaw wood artist can transform your tree stump into various figures. Other LandArt artists have completely different ideas on how to create a work of art from the natural material.

Of course, if you have an artistic streak yourself, you can also get to work yourself. You don’t necessarily have to use the chainsaw to give your tree stump a new shape. Feel free to attack your tree stump with foxtails of various sizes. The chisel from the do-it-yourself cupboard and many other tools can also be used for carving. But there are also countless special wood carving tools. Passionate woodworkers with a penchant for beautiful tools will enjoy the selection.

Rather dubious methods

Some methods for removing tree stump are propagated on the Internet, which you should either not approach or only with great caution – for the sake of yourself and your garden:

  • “Simply pull out” the tree root with the gripping arm of an excavator: Brings a new garden design, but usually not the desired one, with deep and wide craters…
  • Blowing up with dynamite: For gardeners, there is a good chance of making themselves liable to prosecution, but this involves considerable costs if they are commissioned by a company.
  • Destroy with chemicals: The chemicals sold for this purpose are harmful to health; if you light them at some point, as is usually recommended, an almost unquenchable fire is created.
  • Fire accelerants such as denatured alcohol in the root and ignite: This is how you endanger your house even faster.

There are several promising methods for removing a tree stump and as many of its roots as possible. Ultimately, it depends on your patience whether the removal will be expensive and/or laborious; very relaxed gardeners do without the distance completely and use the time of the natural rotting of the tree stump creatively for their purposes.

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