Stumps take several years to rot away, but you can work with them in the interim.

What Can You Do With a Tree Stump?

by Renee Miller

When a tree is removed from your landscape, the stump that is left behind is usually an annoying eyesore. Professional stump removal services use backhoes and other specialized equipment that make removing larger stumps quick and easy, but this option can be expensive. The good news is that there are several things you can do with a tree stump to make it blend in with your landscape.

Plant Over It

Allowing climbing vines to grow over the stump transforms it into a useful part of the landscape. Creeping fig (Ficus pumila), an evergreen vine that is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 through 11, grows to provide a dense covering that effectively hides the stump, but it may be a slow-starter. Flowering vines, such as climbing roses (Rosa spp.), which vary in hardiness depending on species, or clematis (Clematis spp.), which also varies depending on species, typically ranging between zones 4 and 11, can turn your stump into a colorful and fragrant landscape feature. Climbing vines may need support in the form of a small trellis near the stump. Train the vines to grow over the stump and up the support for the best effect. Plant the vines away from your garden areas, and prune them yearly to prevent them from taking over your yard and competing with other plants.

Make a Pedestal

One of the simplest ways to deal with a tree stump is to incorporate it into your landscape design. Work with it instead of around it and make it a pedestal that draws attention to landscape features. For example, place planters full of flowers or garden ornaments that would be lost in a garden or in the lawn on top of the stump. You can also place a small fountain or bird bath on top of the stump. By using the stump as a pedestal, you draw the eye toward the items on top and away from the annoying stump itself.

Stump Planter

Filling a tree stump with flowers makes it a focal point instead of an eyesore. To make a tree stump planter, use the pointed or pick end of a mattock to chip away the center of the stump. Wear safety glasses as you work to prevent eye injuries from flying wood chips. When the hole is large enough, switch to the mattock's wide end and chisel out the center of the stump so that you have a hole that is about 4 to 8 inches deep, with a perimeter of at least 3 inches. Drill drainage holes into the sides of the stump. These should slope toward the ground so that water flows easily out of the soil. Line the bottom of the hole with gravel and then add your potting soil and plants.

Create Garden Art

Using paint or carving tools, you can turn your eyesore into a piece of garden art. Remove the bark from the sides and use a wood-burning kit or a chisel to write your family name or a welcome message into the side of the stump. Tall stumps may be chiseled into a garden seat as well. Apply wood stain or paint to enhance the stump’s color. The addition of flowers or small shrubs around the stump draws the eye to your piece of yard art. If you’re not confident using a wood-burning kit or carving tools, a bit of paint can transform the stump as well. Paint the entire stump a single color or create a garden-themed scene or another image on the stump.

About the Author

Renee Miller began writing professionally in 2008, contributing to websites and the "Community Press" newspaper. She is co-founder of On Fiction Writing, a website for writers. Miller holds a diploma in social services from Clarke College in Belleville, Ontario.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/ Images