7 Best Tree Stump Killer Reviews and Buying Guide

For most home improvement projects, specifically if you want to remodel a backyard or lawn, tree stumps might get along the way. While you could use tree stumps in many ways, not all homeowners see the good in them.

The other main reason as to why tree stumps are oftentimes eliminated for good is because they grow to a full-blown tree again, damaging remodeled landscape and more. 

If you intend to permanently remove tree stumps in your backyard now, here is a rundown of the best tree stump killers that you should consider. 

Related: 50+ Tree Stump Decorating Ideas

7 best tree stump killer reviews

#1. Bonide Vine and Stump Killer

For high traffic surfaces and lawns and backyards sheltering invasive plants as well as unwanted tree stumps, this is the one for you.

It is easy to apply as it comes with an application cap which can be attached to an herbicide squirter for all types of vines and invasive plants.

For tree stumps, you can use the brush it comes with. Expect the rotting process to commence after four days to a week. It is considered as one of the stump killers with the fastest rotting effect on tree stumps.

Its only downside is its price since an 8-ounce Bonide is comparable to the 16-32-ounces of other brands in terms of price. It is a 4.8 out of 5. 

ProsCons
Effective in killing vines, invasive plants, and tree stumps. Pricey.
Comes with a brush and cap. Brush is small for large stumps. 
Easy use with tree stumps. Only requires brushing. Might require frequent brushing. 
Inhibits regrowth. 

#2. PBI Gordon Stump Killer

For a tree stump killer that effectively trickles down to the roots, the Gordon stump killer is a popular choice. It makes the rotting process faster, seeing a start in decomposition in just three to six weeks.

It only comes with a 32-ounce bottle so you can depend on it in removing several tree stumps or a large one. 

With an accompanying squirt nozzle, you can apply this stump killer using two processes. You can easily spray the chemical on the surface or drill holes in the stump to make sure that it reaches the roots and kill the stump from inside out. 

Be careful in spraying it however, if you have plants and vegetation surrounding the stump. This product is known to kill the turf and plants that it comes in contact with. As such, be wary in using it during the rainy season. All in all, this one deserves a 4.6 out of 5. 

ProsCons
Comes in a large bottle with a squirt nozzle. Kills surrounding vegetation. 
Inhibits stump regrowth. 
Kills the stump from the roots fast.  

#3. Spectracide Stump Remover

This product was specifically designed to focus only on removing tree stumps. As such, you do not have to worry about the surrounding turf or vegetation because this one would not have any effect on them. W

hile it is a promising stump killer, best results can be obtained by combining it with a brush killer. 

The process using this product is not as straightforward though. You will have to drill holes in the stump and then fill each hole with hot water and the PBI Gordon mixture.

This comes with a useful nozzle to be used in filling the mixture into the holes drilled in the stump. Overall, this product is a 4.6 out of 5. 

ProsCons
Affordable at 16-ounces. Drilling holes in the stump is required. 
Each bottle comes with a nozzle. 
Odorless and speeds up rotting and decomposition. 
Trickles deep into the stump’s roots, killing it inside out. 

#4. VPG Fertilome Brush Stump Killer

If you are working on removing a large tree stump, this one is the best choice as it comes in a 32-ounce bottle only. Aside from its ability to remove tree stumps, it is also good in killing vines and invasive plant species.

Normally, it takes a week to a month before you could see the stump decomposing. 

To use this, you can either apply the chemical using a back sprayer or by brushing the stump with it. You would not need to dig holes in the stump for this product.

Nonetheless, you will have to brush the stump a couple of times before it is totally removed. This one deserves a 4.5 out of 5. 

ProsCons
Good for long-term, intermittent use. Does not come with a squirt nozzle. 
Easy to use and effectiveness is observable in just a short time.Might not be effective for all types of tree stumps. 
Also effective in killing vines and invasive plants. 

#5. Roebik Root Killer

This one is becoming more popular as an herbicide and tree stump killer. It is powerful enough to kill the roots in a matter of two days, inhibiting sapling regrowth in tree stumps permanently.

It comes in a 16 and 32-ounce bottle with an accompanying nozzle spray. 

This one is also labeled as non-corrosive. This means that it will not damage any nearby plumbing and will not also kill surrounding turf, other trees, and vegetation.

With all things considered, we give this stump killer a 4.4 out of 5.

ProsCons
Instant root killing. Issues on roots not dying entirely. 
Affordable for its volume. 
Comes with a free nozzle spray.
Non-corrosive and safe for plumbing and vegetation. 

#6. Southern AG Brush Stump Killer

Although designed as more of a brush killer, it has proved to be a reputable stump killer too. As a matter of fact, it was specifically designed to eliminate all types of plants that are hard to remove or kill. It can be brushed, or it can be sprayed. 

The main effect of this stump killer is preventing regrowth of sapling after one week. You will have to apply regularly after this until the rotting process ensues at the fourth or sixth week.

It comes in a 16 or 32-ounce bottle but the amount needed per spray still depends on the size and type of the tree stump. It is a 4.6 out of 5, overall. 

ProsCons
All around ‘hard to kill plants’ remover.Does not come with a spray nozzle. 
Price is reasonable. 
Specially designed to prevent regrowth. 
Easy to brush in tree stumps. 
Comes in 16- and 32-ounce bottles. 

#7. Tordon RTU  Herbicide

This one is one of the most multipurpose herbicides out there known to kill more than twenty varieties of invasive plants and trees including tree stumps.

Unlike other herbicides, it does not need dilution or mixing. It is straightly poured on top of the stump for it to reach down to the roots. 

Its blue color is also beneficial in letting you know which parts have already been applied on. As an herbicide, it is only applied once a year to inhibit the growth of unwanted plants and weeds.

If intended to be used as a stump killer, the applied volume must be notched up every month to make sure that saplings no longer grow out of the stump. Overall, this one deserves a 4.4 out of 5. 

ProsCons
Blue color helps in marking sprayed areas. Does not come with a nozzle spray. 
Trickles down to the roots. 
Instant application, no mixing required. 
Affordable. 

Tree stump killer buyer’s guide

The goal here is to permanently kill off the tree stump hanging around in your backyard. However, there is no instant stump killer to do that job so it is best that you must know some factors that you should consider before deciding to buy one. 

  • Budget: You are looking for tree stump killers because the price of having professionals remove it costs a lot. However, most tree stump killers come in 8 to 16-ounce bottles only and range at $5-8 each. For large tree stumps or types that are hard to kill, you might be spending more in the long run. As such, choose those tree stump killers that also come in 32-ounce bottles. 
  • Multipurpose: Sure, you are only focused on removing tree stumps now. But in between, there are also invasive plant species and unwanted vines that will emerge every now and then that you might want to be removed too. As is the case, you should consider buying a multipurpose stump killer which can kill tree stumps but also vines and other unwanted and invasive plant species. 
  • Safety: Make sure that the stump killer that you use is not very strong that it will damage your hands even if you have your gloves on. Master the application procedure first before you dissolve the mixture. Not all tree stump killers have the same mixing procedure. Choose the brand or type with minimal risks. 
  • Ingredients: The most potent stump killers have three major ingredients: potassium nitrate, triclopyr, and sulfuric and/or nitric acid. Check the label of your tree stump killer. If it contains all these three and more, you can depend on it for its effectiveness. 
  • Maintenance: In this consideration, we put focus on how many times you will have to respray the stump killer to make sure that it has already died and becomes ready for uprooting. If the decaying process does not happen in six weeks and you will have to spray another round of stump killer again, you may have chosen wrong. 

What are the benefits of tree stump killer?

There are a lot of reasons as to why people are turning to tree stump killers. For you to know more the facts behind this very valid question, here are the benefits of using tree stump killers. 

  • Safety: Stump killers contribute to the safety of the home especially for homeowners with active kids and pets. Since the primary function of stump killers is to make sure that sapling growth is inhibited before removal, using stump killers is the first step in ensuring that no tripping and poisoning hazards are experienced in the future. 
  • Protection against insects and pests: Tree stumps are favorite niches of insects and pests like cockroach, bugs, and termites because they thrive in the moist and dampness of tree stumps. Sheltering these insects and pests like this can endanger you and your home to infestation. They might also carry harmful diseases and other sanitary issues that you might not take notice at first. 
  • Inhibits regrowth: As have been mentioned, the prime function of stump killers is to inhibit the regrowth of saplings. When new leaves are left growing in the stump, they could be a nuisance especially that it will be harder for the whole stump to be removed. As such, having chemicals that can kill the stump from inside out through the roots helps a lot in inhibiting regrowth. 

Things to consider when buying a tree stump killer

We have covered some of the things that must be put in mind in choosing the best tree stump killer as well as the benefits in using one. In this section, we will give a rundown of what to look out for before buying one. 

1. Stump size

While we have talked about how multipurpose tree stump killers, they can only do so much when it comes to large tree stumps or to any type of stump for that matter. Sure, they can instantly kill weeds, vines, and other unwanted plants but you must be patient in applying tree stump killers on actual stumps because they take time. This is especially true for large tree stumps. 

If you are working on large tree stumps, must buy in larger quantities so make sure that the one you are choosing is good for its price. 

2. Time

When deciding to buy, time is indeed of the essence. You need to establish a timeframe of when you need to totally kill the tree stump so that you would know how many you should buy. It is more practical to buy a product that is specifically used for tree stumps because they can save you a lot of time. 

This factor is also dependent on the first one. Of course, larger tree stumps take months, even a year to treat using tree stump killers. For smaller ones, you would see considerable change or start of the rotting process in just three to six weeks. 

3. How to apply

Basically, there are two ways to apply tree stump killers. The first one is by drilling holes in the stump, exposing its insides. From these holes, tree stump mixtures are directly poured. This is to ensure that the chemicals are deeply seeped, reaching the roots for instant stump kill. 

The second method is through brushing or spraying. After cutting down the tree, apply tree stump killer using a brush or by spraying the mixture on to the stump using a nozzle spray. This is the most common method used nowadays but the first method still proves to be a more effective procedure than this. 

4. Toxic level

As the term implies, this factor refers to the level of toxic chemicals present in a tree stump killer. Of course, the higher the chemical content and the more chemicals used in the stump killer, the more potent it is. However, you must be wary about the possible effects of a tree stump killer on your turf as well as the other plants and trees surrounding the tree stump. 

When your chosen tree stump killer is highly potent, you are risking landscape damage and death of your prized plants. Make sure that you only buy potent tree stump killers that promise safety for surrounding grass patch and vegetation. 

Tree stump killer – FAQs

What is the best way to use a tree stump killer?

As have been said, there are certain methods used to effectively make the most out of a tree stump killer. For a comprehensive knowledge on how, here are the processes that you can follow for the best way to use a tree stump killer. 

  1. Applying the stump killer within 30 minutes after the tree has been cut down makes its effect more potent. 
  2. You can use either brushing or spraying but make sure that you are applying the tree stump killer correctly so that you would not damage the surrounding plants and trees. 
  3. A third method which is drilling through the stump and pouring the stump killer right in the holes for the root to be reached faster is one of the best ways to use the tree stump killer. 
  4. The best season to apply tree stump killers would be during late spring when all the saplings have all grown and are now ready for permanent removal. 

There might be other ways to make the most out of a tree stump killer but if you are looking for the most immediate ways to best use it, here are the four steps to follow. 

What is the best tree stump killer?

In this post, we have compiled some of the best commercial grade tree stump killers out there. This question is kind of tricky because we all know that there is no one and only standout stump killer out there. But if you are looking for the most reputable brands when it comes to the best tree stump killers, it would be the following: 

  • Bonide
  • PBI Gordon
  • Fertilome
  • Spectracide
  • Roebik
  • Tordon

If you want to avoid using chemical based tree stump killers due to various safety and landscape maintenance reasons, you can opt for the following: 

  • Professional grade tree stump remover granules
  • Seed Ranch copper sulfate crystals
  • Epsom salt

If you want to try homemade tree stump removers, the following could be considered: 

  • Rock salt: It actively removes all moisture from the stump raising its toxin level until it dies a natural death. The most effective way to use it is by digging holes on the tree stump and filling it with an inch of rock salt. 
  • Composting: There are two ways to make use of composting as a faster method to activate the decomposing process. First, you can dig a large hole in the stump and use it as a compost pit. The second way is to put fast decomposers on top of the stump and just naturally wait for it to decay along with them. 
  • Make it a planter: Another way to make the decomposing process faster is by making a planter out of it. Hollow the stump and fill it with potting soil. The moisture and nutrients of the fertile potting soil helps in the decaying process of the tree stump. 

As far as homemade tree stump removers are concerned, these three prove to be the most potent of all of them. 

Does tree stump remover really work?

Although time consuming and labor intensive, tree stump removers really do the job and does so surely. As soon as the taproot is already cut, you just need to wiggle out the stump a bit for it to be completely uprooted from the topsoil.

Sure, this process might take hours especially if you will do it DIY but after the turmoil and careful navigation, you are sure that the tree stump will be gone and by gone we mean permanently. 

How long does tree stump killer take to work? 

The average time frame for a tree stump killer to work is 4-6 weeks. This means that you will see the rotting process during this period. Afterwards, the decomposing process will ensue. You will know that the rotting or decaying process has started as soon as the stump gets spongy or soft. If nothing happens within this time span, you might have to add more stump killers and wait for results. 

Final verdict

With all things considered, the winner of this roundup would be Bonide. It has all the ease of use with its free brush and nozzle spray. Aside from this, you can always dig holes in it for a faster rotting process.

While it is pricey, it is the only one in the list which promises a decaying process of four days to one week. Given the average days for the rotting process, this is a major plus especially that it is the primary reason as to why you are buying one in the first place.

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