Ask a Question forum→Tree stumps everywhere!

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Seattle, WA
May 19, 2020 3:29 PM CST
Hi there,

I'm a new homeowner, so tending to plants outdoors is a new interest. When we purchased our house, the front yard had around 15+ small cedars. We've now taken out around 12 of the smaller trees and left the more substantial trees along the perimeter.

Any advice for dealing with stumps and the yard itself? It is extremely difficult to plant in the soil - it's like trying to dig into a net made of rope! Will this improve over time? We have plans to rent a stump grinder. I'd love to plant a smaller Japanese maple or larger bush, but I worry the roots will restrict their growth. Any suggestions?

Thanks so much,

Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
Charter ATP Member Houseplants Keeper of Poultry Vegetable Grower Region: Maryland Composter
Native Plants and Wildflowers Organic Gardener Region: United States of America Cat Lover Birds Butterflies
May 19, 2020 4:28 PM CST
You just might need that stump grinder to tear up all the roots as well as stumps. I hav never dealt with anything like that though. Maybe @oneeyluke. @Rpr
i'm pretty OK today, how are you? ;^)
Name: Dr. Demento Jr.
Minnesota (Zone 3b)
May 19, 2020 4:32 PM CST
IF, if you can rent, hire some one with a small farm tractor, they are shallow rooted and pulling them out of the ground will eliminate the worst roots.
Name: one-eye-luke US.Vet.
Texas (Zone 8a)
Quitter's never Win
Hummingbirder Birds Organic Gardener Dog Lover Cat Lover
May 22, 2020 4:00 AM CST
Stump grinder will rent out for $120 a day, if you can get it there. Plus labor. They are very heavy and hard to lift and transport. The other way to remove stumps is to take a large drill and bit and drill many large holes in the stump. Drill them as deep as you can and then add reg sugar in the drill holes and the tree stumps will decompose faster.
NOT A EXPERT! Just a grow worm! I never met a plant I didn’t love.✌
central ohio (Zone 5b)
May 22, 2020 5:41 AM CST
Yes. Now that the plants are dead, the roots will decompose over time. Obviously, the bigger ones will take longer, maybe on the order of years. The small fibrous ones should be negligible in six months or so. Dead roots will not prevent new roots from your plantings from expanding into the soil. In fact, they are a natural source of organic matter! If you can manage digging in it, the soil structure will be healthier if you leave the dead roots in place rather than tilling it up.

LIVE roots, from the trees still growing will compete with new plants and can pose a problem depending on how close they are, but I think Japanese maples like dry-ish soil and shouldn't be particularly susceptible (guessing a bit here, but we do have a JM growing happily under a silver maple with very aggressive roots)

For the digging itself, for small holes I recommend a hori hori. For bigger ones, get out a file and sharpen the edge of your shovel regularly so it will slice through the roots more easily.

Stumps of any size (more than an inch or so) will not decompose on their own in a reasonable amount of time. Grind them, treat them chemically, or cut them off low and learn to live with them (put pots or statuary on top? Plant things beside them so the leaves spill over and camouflage them?)
Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
Plant Identifier Garden Sages Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
May 22, 2020 6:50 AM CST
I only use organic means for dealing with stumps and roots.

I also think that there's unrealistic expectations when it comes to stump grinders.

I hate it that you cut down the cedar trees...
I've planted all the cedar trees that I could get my hands on... but... they aren't happy at my house...

wonderful trees, cedar.

we really need pictures with a tape measure or something for scale...
here's an example of what I mean:

Thumb of 2020-05-22/stone/391a88

some trees are rot resistant... cedar is one such.

If the stumps are as large as above... you might not be able to do much for years, possibly decades.

If you are dealing with stumps that are only an inch or 2 across, then... they shouldn't be too much of a problem...

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