How to Get Rid of Tree Stumps

Cutting down trees always leaves stumps that must either be removed or endured. The most common method of ridding your lawn of stumps is to grind it well below grade so that several inches of topsoil can be used for growing a lawn or garden.
    Grinding a stump leaves wood chips that you can use as mulch on pathways and around deeply rooted trees and shrubs.

Eradicating Invasive Mulberry

Q:    A portion of my back yard has been overrun by paper mulberry trees. I’ve tried to contain them over the years by cutting back the large trees and the many suckers that come up from the roots, but it’s a losing battle. They spread and grow much too quickly to keep up with them by organic means, so I’m assuming that I’ll need to resort to chemicals. How can I eradicate these invasive trees from my property?
  P.S. Our daughter Erica received the Lothian Ruritan scholarship sponsored by you and your wife. She started at the University of Delaware this fall and is majoring in Environmental Science. She’s thoroughly enjoying her studies and is enthusiastically participating in lots of extracurricular activities (the marching band, an environmental club, the Blue Hens Leadership Program, etc.). We thank you for your generosity in sponsoring this scholarship.
–Clifford Loudermilk, Lothian

A: The mulberry tree is notorious for sending suckers from its surface roots. If you are cutting suckers from the roots of the mother tree, the only solution is to cut down the mother mulberry tree and kill the stump to prevent it from sending out suckers.
    I am glad to hear that your daughter is benefiting from our scholarship. I worked my way through college, and it would have been nice to have had scholarships to depend on. In my days in college, scholarships were few and far between.

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    But do not use fresh wood chips as mulch for shallow-rooted woody plants, in perennial gardens or where annuals are grown. Doing so will cause severe nutrient deficiencies as the microorganisms digesting the cellulose in the wood-chip fibers will absorb nitrogen from the soil. Microbial action is accelerated because the wood chips are covered with soil.
    To turn wood chips into good mulch, rake the chips into a pile, then sprinkle with a half cup of lawn fertilizer for every bushel of chips and water thoroughly. Cover the pile with a canvass or sheet of polyethylene to prevent the loss of water by evaporation. Within a few days you will notice heat being generated and moisture condensing beneath the cover. After the pile has cooled, mix thoroughly and add additional water if the chips appear to be drying. Repeat these steps until the wood chips can be crushed with your hands, indicating they have composted.
    Another less expensive method for disposing of stumps is to accelerate its decay. First have the stump cut as close to the ground as possible so as to minimize tripping. Next, drill half-inch-diameter or larger holes as deeply as possible into the stump. Drill as many holes as you can through the surface of the stump.
    Next blend three parts by volume of compost with one part by volume of lawn fertilizer. Fill the holes with the compost-fertilizer blend and water heavily to wash the blend deep into the bored holes.
    Continue adding the compost fertilizer blend and water until the holes are completely full. Cover the treated stump with a piece of black plastic to retain moisture. Check frequently and add water to keep the stump and surrounding soil moist.
    With regular care, the stump will rot in three to four years. You can anticipate a proliferation of mushrooms growing from the roots near the surface and along the outer edge of the stump.
    Alternately, mix equal amounts of  Weed-B-Gone or Tri-Mec with water and paint in on the stump, especially around the outer edges. This systemic herbicide will trans-locate this time of year to the extremities of the roots and kill the entire root system.