There are several reasons why you might end up with a palm tree stump on your property, for example, if you’ve had to have a diseased palm tree chopped down or if a palm tree was creating a hazard by blocking visual access out of your driveway. In any case, if you are left with a palm tree stump on your property, then the likelihood is that you will want to remove it.
Removing a palm stump will prevent the plant from re-sprouting, it will clear the ground so it can be used for other plants or uses, and it will eliminate a potential trip hazard. Here we take a look at various ways to remove palm tree stumps for all experience levels and budgets.
Table of Contents
Tree Stumps vs. Palm Stumps
If you have removed tree stumps in the past, then you might be inclined to plow on with removing the palm stump in the same way that you have done so before. However, palms are not technically trees, and so they have different types of root systems and need to be treated differently from true trees.
The roots of a palm behave in a very different way to tree roots, and this can actually make palm stump removal easier than typical tree stump removal. Palm trees do not have tap roots, which are usually thick, strong roots anchoring the tree into the soil at a vertical angle. Instead, they have thin, hair-like strands of roots that grow horizontally, spreading out parallel to the ground level.
The result is that when removing a palm stump, you won’t need to dig very deep to remove the roots because they rarely go more than 1 or 2 feet below the surface of the ground. However, they can spread remarkably wide, so if you want to completely remove all of the roots of a mature palm tree, you could wind up digging up your whole yard.
Ways to Remove Palm Stumps
There are several methods you can use to remove a palm tree stump, and the best method for you might depend on how big or mature your palm was, what tools you have access to, how much money you want to spend on stump removal, and to what extent you need to destroy the roots.
Manual digging stump removal
If your palm tree wasn’t very large or very mature, then the chances are that the root system won’t be too extensive. In this case, you can use a pick and a shovel to try to dig out the stump from your yard. You will need to use the shovel to slice the roots around the stump, creating a circle shape in the ground around 2 inches away from the stump itself.
You will then need to dig a trench around the root ball beneath the stump so that you can get the shovel underneath the stump to lift it out. You could also try this method for larger palm tree stumps since it is the most cost-effective and safest technique. However, it can be very time-consuming and strenuous work.
Machine grinder stump removal
A stump grinder is a type of machine specifically designed to remove tree stumps and their roots. They look similar to push lawn mowers and can be hired from hardware stores and big box DIY chains for between $80 and $160 per day. This is a quick and fairly easy way to remove stumps, and it can be cost-effective if you have several stumps that you need to remove. In order for the grinder to work, your stump will need to be very low to the ground, so you may need a chainsaw to first cut it down a little. The grinder will mash up the stump and the surrounding roots to below ground level, making a clean slate for future planting.
Chemical rotting stump removal
Chemicals can be purchased which will cause a palm stump to rot quickly, eliminating the need to dig it out. The chemicals need to reach deep into the trunk’s interior, so you would need to make some significant gashes into the stump with an ax or, ideally, create some deep holes in the stump using an electric drill.
You can then pour the chemicals into the holes and wait for the magic to happen. Typically the stump will become soft and look deflated after around four weeks. This is a fairly easy way to handle stump removal but be warned that the chemicals can remain in your soil and cause issues for future plants. They are also very dangerous for children and pets, so you will need to create a border around the stump to stop anyone from accessing it during rotting.
Natural rotting stump removal
A dead palm stump will rot naturally over time, but most people don’t want to wait for this to happen. You can speed up the process without using chemicals by adding materials rich in nitrogen to the stump. This will cause the stump to decompose at a faster rate of between several months and a year.
Natural materials with a high nitrogen content that you can apply to the stump include chicken manure, coffee grounds, nitrogen-heavy fertilizer, and bone meal. Continue to apply the chosen materials every month or so, monitoring the decay process at the same time.
Burning stump removal
If you want to remove the stump quickly, with minimal manual effort, and on a very low budget, then burning the stump might seem like an appealing prospect. To do this, you would just need to douse the stump in kerosene and wait for it to be absorbed before setting light to the stump. This will eliminate the stump rapidly since the trunk of palms are not dense. However, they are very moist, so you can expect a lot of smoke to be produced.
Burning a palm stump is not the safest method because it could lead to nearby property damage or even cause a wildfire. Some areas are banned from lighting fires outside, and you can be fined, so be sure to check with your local authorities first and discuss it with any nearby neighbors who might be affected. A burning tree stump should never be left unattended and will need to be monitored until all embers are completely burnt out.
Professional stump removal
If you don’t have the time or the inclination to attempt removing your palm stump yourself, then there are lots of experienced tree surgeons and garden landscape companies who will be more than happy to help you. You can expect to pay between $50 and $200 per stump removal performed by a professional.
The cost will depend on the size of the stump and the complexity of the removal job, as well as the area you live in and the expertise level of the company you use. A professional will be able to remove a tree stump in less than a day, and they will level out the ground afterward so it is ready for whatever other use you have in mind for the space which the palm tree used to occupy.