Stumps usually take anywhere from 3 to 7 years to decompose, depending on the type of the tree and the local environment. Pine trees and softer woods take less time to decay whereas a Hicory tree may take twice as long.
- ASK EACH TREE SERVICE – If they aren’t grinding the stump, how low will they cut each stump?
You’ll want to start by cutting the tree as low as possible. Obviously the lower the stump, the less time it will take to decay. If you are having the trees cut by a professional tree service then ask them to cut the stumps as low as possible. This is called a stump cut and is generally not included with the price of the tree cutting or removal.
Pine trees and Poplar trees generally don’t have above-ground root systems branching out from the trunk of the tree, so these stump cuts should be less than a few inches above the ground. Cedar trees and trees with wide flaring trunks can’t be cut as low to the ground and will cost more to be cut lower.
Hardwoods, especially Hickory trees, take longer to decompose and decay. The harder denser woods keep the moisture and air out that is necessary to break down the wood. The nitrogen in the air feeds the fungi and bacteria that decompose the stump. You can drill holes 8″ – 12″ into the stump and add Nitrogen based fertilizers to speed along the process. Without washing away fertilizer, spray the stump lightly with water then cover it with leaves, dirt, or other compost. Bacteria and fungi prefer a warm moist environment.
Some people plant vegetables or flowers in a large pot with no bottom and place it on the stump. The plant roots will obtain nutrients while helping decompose the stump. This process takes much longer than adding Nitrogen and completely covering with compost.
In conclusion, unless you have the stumps grinding they will be with you for a long time. If you do everything possible to speed up the process, you are still looking at a two year time frame. If you are removing trees to improve the look and feel of your yard then leaving the stumps may ruin your vision. If you aren’t planning on having the stumps removed to save some money, remember, it will cost more to have a tree service come back out if you change your mind in the future.