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"Tree stump killer"

A discussion started in 2002 but continuing through 2019


Q. Is copper sulfate [affil. link to info/product on Amazon] a viable tree stump killer? If so, what should the proportions of water to copper sulfate be? Is more than one treatment generally required? What precautions should be taken when mixing or handling? I purchased a pound of copper sulfate at a local hardware store but the clerks in the store at the time of purchase did not know the mixture but said that it was a good means of killing tree stumps.


Willard Eastman
- Albuquerque, New Mexico


A. It will almost certainly kill the stump, along with almost anything else nearby. copper carbonate [affil. link to info/product on Amazon] is used as Bordeaux mix for treating grapevines that have mildew on them. Please, please, please do not start dumping chemicals onto the soil, it will not do anyone any good. If you want to remove a stump, either dig it out or get some proper stump remover.

trevor crichton
Trevor Crichton
R&D practical scientist
Chesham, Bucks, UK


A. I have heard that you can kill a tree stump by driving a copper nail into it...no chemicals are put into the soil..

Cheryll Guertin
- La Verne, California


Q. I have a large stump from tree that is in my back yard, 46" across. There is no access to the stump with a stump grinder. what kind of chemical can I pour into the stump if large holes are drilled into it.

James Hooper
- seminole Florida

August 27, 2008

A. Drill holes in top of stump and fill holes with potassium nitrite [KNO3]. Pour hot water in holes, and then after it dries out, pour fuel oil in holes and light on fire with a propane torch.

charles gibson
- NEW BERLIN, Wisconsin

August 28, 2008

!! Thanks, Charles. But readers should know that fuel oil spills can contaminate the land for several years. And also that this recipe is fairly close to the familiar bomb-making recipe. So they need to be absolutely certain that they understand it correctly. We appreciate the effort to help but I don't think people should do it without personal instruction.


Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

July 16, 2009

A. I have had success with copper sulfate by drilling holes in the top of the stump and then packing the holes with copper sulfate use a large drill bit 7/8 to 1 inch, two to three inches deep. Pack the holes with copper sulfate tight enough to prevent it from blowing out with the wind but not so tight it will not easily absorb water. Water the sump regularly don't water so much that the water runs over the stump just sprinkle. The copper sulfate will also kill the lawn and any other plants around. Cover the stump with a plastic garbage can lid and weight it down metal will corrode badly with copper sulfate, tarp or ply wood plastic is best. This prevents pets and animals from contacting the copper sulfate take other precautions with children or don't use copper sulfate at all, remove the cover when watering the lawn or when it rains to help water in the copper sulfate. Do his until the copper sulfate is gone. This will kill the stump and roots and any other trees that have suckered off of the one cut down so do no use this method if this is a possibility. Copper sulfate will as so speed up the rotting of the stump.

Good luck and wear Rubber Gloves [affil. link to info/product on Amazon] gloves and eye protection ( goggles [affil. link to info/product on Amazon]).

John Vandam
- Cove, Oregon

February 17, 2019 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. Many old overgrown melaleucas have been taken down from behind garages where I live, due to their roots causing plumbing and other utility problems. The stump cannot be stump ground due to utility areas under these stumps ... can we use muriatic acid or ?? safely on the stumps to rot them?

Suzane Cole
Village Grove Townhouse Association - Corona, California USA

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