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Which Is The Best Tree Stump Killer? Reviews and Buyers Guide

By Nitrotech

An old tree stump is an unsightly feature in your yard, regardless of whether it is sprouting and trying to regrow or just taking up valuable space.

Hiring someone to grind up the old stump or trying to remove it by hand are viable options, but they will both cost you time and money. So, what should you do?

A better option is to use a chemical stump killer to expedite rot and remove the stump quickly and easily. But with so many products available, it can be hard to find one that will actually work the way you want it to.

To help you navigate the over-saturated stump killer market, we've put together these detailed reviews so you can find the best stump killer for your needs. We'll also share our handy buyer's guide and answer some frequently asked stump killer questions.

Let's get started!

Summary Table

Top Pick

For stubborn trees that won't die, oversized stumps, and still standing trees that you need to kill fast, you'll want a powerful herbicide that works quickly. We haven't found anything more powerful or easy to use than Tordon RTU. This product comes highly recommended by foresters and arborists and can be used to decompose a stump or kill a tree's root system to stop sprouts from taking over your yard.

What We Look For

Wondering how we determine what makes one stump killer better than the next? Here are the three main features we look at.

Does It Work?

This is by far the most critical aspect of any product but especially important when talking about chemical stump killers. If the product doesn't work well for multiple applications or isn't exceptionally powerful at one particular application, it isn't worth reviewing.

Ease of Application

When it comes to a product that you really don't want to get on your skin or spill on the ground, ease of application is paramount. We chose only products that were ready to use or simple to prepare, and even easier to apply.

How Safe Is It?

In the world of stump killers, the safety of a product is often directly at odds with how effective it is. When choosing the best stump killers to feature, we were mindful of balancing how well a product worked and how safe it was to use.

Best Stump Killer Reviews

With the above features in mind, here are the eight best stump killers to help you remove stubborn stumps effectively, quickly, and safely.

Which Is The Best Tree Stump Killer? Reviews and Buyers Guide

Which Is The Best Tree Stump Killer? Reviews and Buyers Guide

Stump Killer Buying Guide

You will need to consider different aspects before purchasing a stump-killing product. Our buying guide simplifies it so you can understand a stump killer's usefulness and effectiveness.

Active Ingredient

Most stump killers contain one or a combination of these four herbicides in their active ingredients. Each works a little bit differently to kill or rot the stump.

Potassium Nitrate

Which Is The Best Tree Stump Killer? Reviews and Buyers Guide

Potassium nitrate is one of the most common ingredients in stump removers. Nitrogen is well-known for speeding up the decomposition process. Products that are high in potassium nitrate are effective for rotting stumps to make them easier to remove. Straight potassium nitrate stump killers typically come in granular form. While this substance is highly effective, it can take some time to work.

Magnesium Sulfate

Magnesium sulfate is what makes up Epsom salt. In small amounts, this compound helps enrich the soil and add nutrients that help plants thrive. In high concentrations, it can be deadly to trees and plants. It also helps expedite the decomposition process. This type of salt is less common in chemical stump killers but popular in more natural solutions. It is much safer for you and the environment than other chemicals but takes a lot longer to work.


Which Is The Best Tree Stump Killer? Reviews and Buyers Guide

This specialized compound is a common weed killer and is found in most RoundUp products. It is highly effective for killing just about any kind of plant. That makes it useful for killing tree sprouts and roots but also dangerous to use around the garden. So, you'll need to be very careful where you apply this product.


This man-made stump killer ingredient only targets parts of the stump and roots living and actively growing. It mimics certain plant growth hormones and is most effective for controlling woody and broadleaf foliage growth. Triclopyr is very effective for killing trees and stopping felled trees from sprouting. It works quickly, but you'll need to be cautious when applying. Avoid contact with the eyes and skin, and keep it away from nearby plants.

How fast does it kill the stump?

Because stump killers contain varying ingredients, some tend to work faster than others. Often, how fast a product works is balanced by how safe it is to use. Products that are less toxic and less likely to kill neighboring plants tend to work more slowly and may even require additional applications. Those that utilize heavy-duty chemicals tend to work very quickly but must be applied more carefully.

Is It Multipurpose?

Many stump killers also work to kill bushes, vines, and even weeds. This versatility can be useful if you have many problem areas of various types to take care of. On the other hand, if your main concern is a problematic stump, then choosing a product made specifically for removing stumps might be cheaper and will carry less risk of accidentally killing off plants you want to keep.

Effect on Other Plants

With the exception of straight magnesium sulfate crystals, most stump killers pose some risk to surrounding plants. Those that are highly effective and highly versatile are the most likely to kill growth around the target area. Less versatile products will only harm other plants if they come into direct contact with the liquid or granules. You should carefully consider what kind of foliage surrounds your stump and how important it is to keep it alive before you choose your product.

Effect on Wildlife

Nearby plants aren't the only thing that you need to consider when choosing your stump killer. Certain chemicals can also affect wildlife. Potassium nitrate and magnesium sulfate are the least likely to impact wild animals and pets but should still be used cautiously around waterways. More toxic chemicals like glyphosate and triclopyr should be used as minimally as possible around areas where animals frequent. Do not use it near waterways if possible.

Safety Considerations

Most commercial stump killers are safe to use as long as some precautions are taken. You should always wear gloves and eye protection. Some products contain chemicals that are more toxic and may require you wear a respirator or protective clothing. Whether a product is generally safe or mildly toxic, you should take care to apply it as carefully as possible and use the minimum amount needed to get the job done.

Stump Killer FAQ

Here are some common questions about the use and application of stump-killing chemicals.

Should tree stumps be removed?

The most important reason to remove a tree stump is to prevent future growth. Many trees will sprout from the stump and continue growing. If left to mature, these future trees are likely to become unstable, posing a risk to you and your property. Some trees will sprout from the roots, which can cause a lot of problems for the surrounding lawn and gardens. Not all trees will sprout after being chopped down. But even these will need to be removed to reclaim the space.

How long does it take to kill a tree stump?

How long it will take a tree stump to die back and rot depends on the product you use. Most commercial chemicals will work in 2 to 6 weeks. Larger stumps will take longer, as will those treated with more natural approaches.

What is the best stump killer?

For the best all-around stump killer, we like Tordon RTU Herbicide for how quick and effective it is. But to find the best stump killer for your needs, you need to consider what exactly you will be using the product for, what other plants are around the problem area, and how quickly you need the stump gone.

Are there natural ways to kill a tree stump?

If you don't like the idea of using chemicals to remove a tree stump, there are plenty of natural methods that work. Salt, fertilizer, and fire are all effective when used correctly. You can learn more about these natural methods and get more ideas for how to kill tree stumps here.

Also have overgrown weeds in your backyard? There are 16 ways to get rid of weeds that you can try.

The Wrap Up

An effective stump killer will make quick work of unwanted trees and space-consuming stumps. For those tough jobs, you'll want to turn to the best stump killer on the market, the Tordon RTU.

This highly effective and powerful herbicide will kill and rot out that old stump so you can finally get rid of it to clean up your lawn and surrounding gardens. If you have many trees, vines, and weeds to take care of, this one product can handle it all.

If all you need is to rot out an old, dead stump, Bonide BND272 will get the job done without killing neighboring foliage. Or, if a living, sprouting stump is giving you problems, VPG Brush Stump Killer will quickly and effectively kill it off.

Pricing last updated on 2021-05-29 at 05:52 / affiliate links - Details

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