If you have several tree stumps lying around in your backyard, you’ll be amazed at how you can use them to add eye-catching accents to your garden or landscaping.
You can create a planter, a birdbath or another piece of decor that will surely make your outdoor living space more vibrant and inviting.
This labor-intensive job requires several techniques that, when done right, will surely turn those old stumps into beautiful creations for your backyard or garden. The most popular techniques used today are fire, cutting out with a chainsaw, and hollowing by hand.
Hollowing out a tree stump with fire
- Remove any flammable materials like dried leaves, sticks or other wooden structures near the stump. This will reduce the risk of a huge fire erupting as you work on the stump. It’s also important to keep a bucket of water nearby in case of an emergency. You can also enclose the stump with chicken wire for additional safety.
- Use a 2.5 cm spade bit in your power drill to bore a hole in the middle of the stump at a 30-degree angle. Make your hole roughly 20cm to 25cm deep or far enough down so you can reach the roots. Clear the hole of any debris after drilling.
- Create similar holes throughout the top of the stump leaving at least 2-5 cm of space between each hole. If the stump is above the ground, you should also make holes across the perimeter of the stump to make it burn easier.
- Fill each hole with potassium nitrate and wash your hands thoroughly after handling this chemical. You can also use charcoal or kerosene to make your stump more flammable. If you’re using potassium nitrate, pour hot water into each hole to dissolve it.
- Create a pyramid or tee pee over the stump using scrap wood and light it using kindling. Never use gas to light the scrap wood. Wait for it to catch fire.
- Once the stump has been burned, you can start breaking up any large pieces of stump or root in the holes. Make sure to keep all the burned pieces in a fire-safe bucket to avoid igniting an accidental fire.
- Fill the burned out hole with fresh soil and put a plant in your new tree stump planter.
Hollowing out a tree stump with a chainsaw
- Make sure that your log is dry in the middle and look for a baseboard that you can drill to the log.
- Using the chain saw, carve out the center of the stump to make holes and carve out the edges using a chisel. Once you’ve carved out the top layer of holes, use the saw to make a second pass until the stump is open at about 3 inches deep.
- Remove the wood pieces using a hammer and chisel. Smooth out the edges to make your planter look perfect.
- You can add a layer of activated charcoal on the base of the stump to promote better air filtration. You can also add a drainage layer to make sure that water doesn’t pool inside the planter causing the root and log to rot.
Hollowing out a tree stump by hand
- Wait for the wood stump to be softer to make it easier to hollow it out by hand.
- Start by drilling holes across the part of the stump that you want to hollow out and make sure that there are a few inches of space between the holes.
- Use a hammer and chisel to hollow out the stump carefully chipping away the wood from the edge of one of the holes by keeping your chisel at a 45-degree angle. Remove all the chipped wood and use them in your recycle or compost pile.
- Smooth out the hollowed area and use your chisel to clean up the jagged sections of the stump. Use sandpaper to smooth the bottom of the stump and its edges. Then, clean out the stump, clearing it of any dust or debris so you can start using it.
Sealing wood stumps
- Prepare your workstation by placing the stump over a drop cloth or newspaper to make sure that you don’t make any mess.
- Use sandpaper to smooth out the top of the tree stump and brush any sawdust away.
- Paint the entire tree stump using a thin coat of wood sealant so it dries easier and doesn’t form any bubbles. Let the sealant dry first before painting another thin coat and allowing that second layer to dry.
Can you drill out a tree stump?
If you have wanted to turn that old tree stump in your backyard into something that will add beauty to your outdoor living space, drilling it out and turning into a planter or birdbath is one of the easiest ways to make it useful again.
Depending on how big you want the planter or birdbath to be, drilling it out may or may not be your best option. Wood drill bits come in large sizes for standard drill, but can be very expensive. A better solution may be to use a wood spade. You can use a 1 ½ inch spade to create multiple holes in your tree stump. Either a drill bit or a wood spade will work, though you will not be able to go as deep with the wood spade.
After drilling holes in the stump, use a chisel and hammer to knock out the excess wood. Repeat until you have the depth that you want for your planter or bird bath.
We cut down a tree on the side of the house. I wanted to rot the tree stump out, so I needed to drill some deep holes in it. These are the same type of holes you would drill if you want to hollow out your tree stump. I picked up a long wood drill bit from Lowes. It was a 1/2 inch bit.
The drill bit worked well for about 20 holes, but then it broke. I think it would have lasted longer if I had let it cool down between drilling each hole.
How do you soften a tree stump
If you’re planning to remove a tree stump completely out of your backyard or use it as a planter, you need to soften it first to make the job less tedious and time consuming.
You can wait for a good rainstorm to pass so the tree stump gets completely soaked before you try to remove it. But if you’re living somewhere that’s dry for most of the year, you can use tree stump removal chemicals, such as Epsom salt, that will help soften up or speed up the rotting process so you can easily remove it.
Just drill holes on the stump and pour the chemicals into each hole. This usually takes 4 to 6 weeks. It will be easier to remove the stump once it’s soft and spongy. Other gardeners also prefer using Epsom salt as a replacement for chemicals that could be potentially harmful if not handled properly.
Hollowing out a tree stump doesn’t have to take up a lot of your time and energy. Follow these steps and you’ll be on your way to using those stumps as part of your garden decor. Just remember to take safety precautions no matter which technique you decide to use.