You used to have a beautiful tree in your yard. But for one reason or another, it had to be taken down, leaving you with a less-beautiful stump. What to do with it?
If a stump is right in the middle of your yard, it can be an eyesore or a tripping hazard. Even if it’s off to the side, you may dislike the sight and would prefer it be removed from your yard.
While it is possible to do this yourself, it’s a lot of work, and you risk damaging your lawn. Also, tree roots can sometimes grow over utility lines or pipes. Don’t risk doing it yourself if you’re inexperienced. It’s easier to let a professional take care of it. This is a standard service available through most tree service companies, such as Mr. Tree.
Not sure if you’re ready to have your tree stump removed? Having it taken out can add extra expenses, and stumps will decay on their own after a number of years. If you don’t mind keeping it, there are ways you can incorporate it into your garden and make it an attractive part of your landscaping. You can even repurpose tree stumps and give them a second life.
Here are five tips for planting around tree stumps.
1. Determine Why the Tree Was Cut Down
This might be a little harder if you have moved into a house where a tree stump was already present in the yard. But if you were the one to have the tree cut down, then you’ll know why it needed to be removed.
If it was due to disease, you might want to rethink keeping the stump in your yard. The stump and even some of the soil around the roots may retain some of the disease, which can easily spread to other plants nearby. You don’t want to spend lots of time landscaping only to have your new plants die. In this case, consider getting the stump removed rather than trying to plant around it.
If you know the tree was healthy before it was cut down—perhaps it got removed for space reasons or was badly broken in a storm—then there’s no reason for concern. Unless you dislike the look of a stump in your yard, there’s no pressing reason to remove the stump of a healthy tree. It will naturally decompose in its own time and return to the soil.
2. Remove Roots from the Soil
Remember that it’s not just the external stump that’s left from the tree. There’s still a whole root system underground that you may run into while digging holes for new plants. Before planting around tree stumps, remove the roots in the area. If the roots are still alive, they’ll continue to take in nutrients from the ground, just like when the tree was still standing. By removing them, you can promote better health for the new plants.
To do this, dig down in your chosen area. If you come across tree roots, cut and sever them. Be sure to remove the roots and discard them before you place the soil back over your new plants. You don’t need to remove all of the old tree’s roots; they will decompose naturally over time.
3. Leave Enough Room for Plants to Grow
You want to give any new plants the best chance possible to succeed when you plant them. Even if you break up the soil and remove the roots, you still want to give your new plants space to flourish and grow. If they’re perennials that will grow larger every year, this is especially important.
Don’t plant right alongside the stump or your new plants won’t have enough space. Annuals work well in this situation because they don’t have deep root systems, decreasing the chances that they’ll be impacted by lack of space. Also, you won’t have to consider how large the plants might grow in the future.
If you want to plant perennials, you may want to talk to a nursery employee to get an idea of which plants would work best for your space and how far away you should plant them from your stump.
4. Plant Your Next Tree a Few Feet Away from the Stump
That stump used to be a tree. If you were forced to take the old tree down due to damage, you might wish to replant a new tree in its place. Planting in the exact same spot isn’t possible if the old tree stump is still in place. But is it possible to put a new tree close by?
Yes, but there are things to consider before doing so. First, the soil directly next to the stump may be depleted of nutrients vital for the new tree’s growth.
And as mentioned before, the old tree’s root system will still be present if you haven’t removed the stump, restricting the new tree’s root growth.
To avoid these problems, your best bet is to plant your new tree six to eight feet away from the old tree’s stump. If it’s been a few years since the tree has been cut down, the roots will have decayed a bit, meaning you can plant a bit closer to the stump.
5. Repurpose the Stump
As well as planting around tree stumps, you can also repurpose the stump itself in multiple ways. One interesting idea is to use it as a planter.
A tree stump planter has multiple benefits. You’ll have a unique, natural-looking planter for at least a few years. The more you add water to a tree stump, the quicker it will decay, meaning slightly faster natural removal from your yard. And this decay helps whatever you plant in the stump. Decaying wood puts forth nutrients that plants need to grow, so your new addition will be healthy.
If there are no natural holes large enough to put a plant, you can create your own. Carve out a hole in the stump with a sharp object, leaving at least a couple of inches of the perimeter. You can also add a drainage hole. If the stump has been around for a while, the wood will likely be softer and easier to work with. Once a large enough hole has been created, simply fill it with potting soil and put in plants as you would with any other planter.
If you don’t have the time or energy to create a hole, you can also use the stump as a pedestal for a pot.
As you would when choosing any other plants to put in your yard, keep in mind how much sun the area your tree stump gets for the best results.
A planter isn’t the only way you can repurpose a stump. They can also be sanded down and used as natural tables or garden seats, from which you can admire any new additions to your garden. Do a quick search on Pinterest or in your favorite home magazines to get inspiration.