If chemical stump killers are not an option, several homemade methods prevent tree stumps and roots from producing new trees. One way is to use a homemade weed killer, such as vinegar or rock salt, to destroy the stump and kill the roots. Another is to turn the stump into a compost pile or flower container to speed up decomposition.
When you'd rather not use a systemic herbicide such as glyphosate, vinegar is a homemade alternative that is both organic and effective, although multiple applications are necessary to kill the roots. Select a warm, dry day and fill a spray bottle with undiluted white vinegar. Spray vinegar to thoroughly coat the leaves of shoots growing back from the tree roots and stump. This destroys the leafy top growth that is supplying the roots with food and eventually kills the remaining tree roots.
Rock salt acts as a weed killer by absorbing water that would normally be used by plant roots, resulting in droughtlike conditions. When the salt is dissolved by water, it can be absorbed by the tree roots and build up to toxic levels. Care should be taken when deciding where to sprinkle salt on the soil around a tree because it will kill grass and desirable plants as well. To target the tree stump specifically, drill 12-inch-deep holes in the stump using a 1-inch spade bit extension. Pack these holes with rock salt.
One way to get rid of an unwanted stump is to build a homemade compost pile on top. The compost pile will speed the decay of the stump. If the stump is out of the way, this can be a simple pile of compost. For visible areas, build a decorative compost bin around the stump. The simplest bins are made from wire fence or snow fence. 10 feet of wire fence will make a cylindrical bin 3 feet in diameter, and 13 feet of snow fence will make a 3-foot-square bin when stretched around four posts.
Turning a stump into a flower container is a decorative way to hasten its decomposition. To do this, hollow out the stump and then drill a few drainage holes in the sides near the base. After the hollow is filled with potting soil, plant it with colorful annuals. Petunias (Petunia x hybrida) and dwarf snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus) thrive in sunny areas, and impatiens (Impatiens walleriana) and coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) grow well in shade. Planting a stump speeds its decay. To maintain the stump as a container, coat it with a wood preserver.
After graduating from The Ohio State University, Marissa Baker turned her attention to professional writing. Her experience covers a variety of topics, including gardening, landscaping and lawn care equipment. She has been gardening for as long as she can remember, and writing about garden and lawn care since 2012.
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