Gardening

The UK’s Best Tree Stump Killers To Stop Trees Growing Back

a tree stump with garden lawn in the background

You may have bid adieu to an unwanted tree but the stubborn stump replies with a cheeky ‘Yo!’ as it starts to sprout shoots!

That’s where tree stump killers come in. Promptly after felling, apply this herbicide to ensure your tree doesn’t come back from the grave.

Sometimes you just gotta do it. Sometimes you need to fell a tree. We do not advocate cutting down trees but now and then it is the best option or is even unavoidable.

Say you already have a goodly number of trees on your acre and you need to extend your home but a weed tree’s contorted crown is in the way. Or a ten-century-old heritage church is in jeopardy because of a big, shaky larch hugging it. Or a lovely century-old oak is infested and diseased beyond any cure and rescue. In all three of these scenarios, the tree will need to be cut down, leaving behind an unsightly stump.

However, the stump will start to sprout shoots which will grow into branches as the still-living stump tries to re-germinate. It may also send up suckers from the roots, and these suckers over time will grow into new trees.  To prevent such types of re-germination the stump must either be excavated from the roots and removed entirely or it must be killed. Hence, tree stump killer.

Did You Know . . .

A fairly common misconception is that tree stump killers will somehow ‘disappear’ the stump by shrinking, degrading, or rotting it. They will not do any such thing, and cannot. Stump killers are not hydrochloric acid! A tree stump killer will do what the name says: kill the stump so that it does not re-germinate. ‘Disappearing’ the killed stump is up to you.

Each tree stump killer varies in its efficacy from tree to tree and species to species. You might find that Product A finishes off Species X with extreme prejudice but is like the figurative pea gun when poured on Species Y. On the other hand, Product B will put paid to Species Y in no time but will fail to make much headway with Species X. 

Furthermore, environmental factors such as moisture and soil nutrients also affect the effectiveness of different herbicides in different ways. Finally, tree stump killers expire quite quickly and lose their potency and even any efficacy so make sure you check the manufacturing date on the product container.

Our #1 Top Pick
Resolva Xtra Tough Tree Stump Killer Sachets, 2 x 100 ml
Value Pick
Job Done Tough Tree Stump Killer Sachet, 3
Also Consider...
Copper Tree Stump Killer/Solid Copper Clout Nails - Very Large Sizes Available (20 x 65mm)
Type
Liquid Formula
Liquid Formula
Copper Nails
Contents
2 Sachets
3 Sachets
20 Nails
Non-Toxic
Price
£15.39
£9.99
£6.00
Our #1 Top Pick
Resolva Xtra Tough Tree Stump Killer Sachets, 2 x 100 ml
Type
Liquid Formula
Contents
2 Sachets
Non-Toxic
Price
£15.39
Value Pick
Job Done Tough Tree Stump Killer Sachet, 3
Type
Liquid Formula
Contents
3 Sachets
Non-Toxic
Price
£9.99
Also Consider...
Copper Tree Stump Killer/Solid Copper Clout Nails - Very Large Sizes Available (20 x 65mm)
Type
Copper Nails
Contents
20 Nails
Non-Toxic
Price
£6.00

Last update on 2020-12-01 / Affiliate links / Images / Pricing from Amazon Product Advertising API

Underneath we review three quite varied Glyphosate-based tree stump killers, a Triclopyr-based product, and grandpa’s ‘stump killer’: copper nails.

Best Pick: Resolva Tough Stump Killer Sachets

Effective yet also convenient, Resolva’s ready-to-use sachets kill not only tree stumps but most weeds, and for some species it is the most potent.

Resolva’s stump killer comes in a packet of two 100-millilitre sachets. Each 100-millilitre sachet is meant to treat 3 stumps of 10 to 15 centimetres in diameter. This potent non-selective herbicide contains glyphosate, the ingredient made famous (or infamous) by Monsanto’s Roundup. 

Convenience is the name of the game here as there is nothing to dilute and nothing to spray, nothing to shake and nothing to stir. Just pour the contents of the sachet without diluting on and around the stump within a week of the tree being cut down. It will help if holes are drilled on the stump around its perimeter or inward-angled notches are made near the base of stump, into which Resolva is poured.

It does away with, besides stumps, all common weeds including brambles, nettles, yarrow, and bindweed. It is very effective on stumps but wait for a couple of months to see the effects. It may not work on tough and resistant weed tree stumps but don’t give up – multiple applications over a period of a few months may be the answer.

As with all tree stump killers, Resolva will prove to be the silver bullet that will take out certain species, for example ivy and acacia to name just two, but will struggle against other species. Resolva is definitely the most expensive stump killer but the reason that it is our Best Pick is that it will kill more species and more tree stumps and will fail against fewer ones that the competition. Also very important is the fact that it is so convenient to use.

Pros

  • Very effective, and the most effective tree stump killer for various species.
  • The most convenient to use; just cut open the sachet and pour.
  • Apart from tree stumps it will put paid to nearly all common weeds.

Cons

  • Very expensive; on a per-application comparison it is the most expensive stump killer.
Buy Now From Amazon UK

Value Pick: Job Done Tough Sachets

Job Done finishes off ivy and other species, it can be diluted to your preferred strength, and on a per-application basis it offers the best value.

Job Done is supplied in a packet containing three 8-gramme sachets each of which contains a water-soluble bag. This product contains glyphosate. To kill stumps you have to use it according to the instructions but sometimes you’ll need a trick or two up your sleeve.

The inner bag is meant to be put as-is into 150 millilitres of water. After two minutes the solution should be stirred or shaken and then you’re ready to pour it over or paint it on and around the stump’s upper surface’s perimeter. 

If following the instructions does not seem to work, drill some holes into the stump near the perimeter and pour Job Done solution into the holes. To kill tough and tenacious stumps, make a concentrated solution in only 60 millilitres of water or use two or all three sachets in 150 millilitres of water. It is important not to give up and to apply multiple applications over a period of a few weeks.

As with other tree stump killers, you’ll have varying luck with different types of trees and plants. You may not be able to kill bamboo with Job Done but it will put paid to – among other species – for example, ivy, rhododendron, and most weeds.

Considering what you get for your buck, this effective product is ultra-economical which made it a cinch for our Value Pick spot.

Pros

  • The ability to dilute and mix to your own preferred dilution.
  • Among other species, it kills tough and invasive ivy.
  • Ultra-economical – the package is very cheap, and it is also cheap on a per-application basis.

Cons

  • May not kill tree stumps of certain species such as bamboo.
Buy Now From Amazon UK

Copper Tree Stump Nails

The age-old way of killing tree stumps, copper nails are free of toxins and chemicals; though they take a long time to work, they are very cheap.

To bowl a googly smack-dab in the middle (‘stump’) of four liquid stump killer reviews, we present . . . copper nails! 

Copper nails are a tried and true method of killing tree stumps. Copper is toxic to trees and other vegetation. The trauma and injury of nails being driven into and inside the trunk, and the nail’s copper seeping into and poisoning the phloem and cambium causes the stump gradually to die, though ‘gradually’ can mean up to a year or two.

The product comprises of 20 65-millimetre nails 3.35 millimetres thick. These 65-millimetre nails are also available in packets of 30, 40, and 50. Longer 75-millimetre nails are available in packets of 40 and 50. 

The nails are meant to be hammered into the stump right at the base at about a 70-degree angle to horizontal. They can also be hammered into the roots. The number of nails you need to pound in depends on the age of the tree and the thickness of the stump and also the type of tree. The thicker the stump and the older the tree, the more nails will be needed. Coniferous tree stumps will require more nails than deciduous tree stumps, all other things being equal. 

The nails themselves are of very good quality – their heads are quite large and they have high copper content (which is why they tend to bend so readily). Pre-drilling holes or stripping off the bark before hammering in the nails will decidedly improve the chances of success.

Pros

  • Entirely free of chemicals and no possibility of accidentally harming desired plants or the lawn.
  • Good quality nails with high copper content.
  • Very low in price, this is a genuine budget option.

Cons

  • Copper nails will frequently bend when being hammered into bark.
  • Tree stumps will take a long time to die from copper-nail poisoning.
Buy Now From Amazon UK

Roundup Tree Stump Weedkiller

A renowned name for reasons good or bad, deadly Roundup is super-effective on stumps of numerous species, including Japanese knotweed and bamboo.

Roundup tree stump killer comes in a small bottle of 250 millilitres which is meant for making a sprayable solution of 25 litres, though we feel that this is a somewhat optimistic dilution. It is meant to kill up to 16 stumps. A reusable pipette is included in the packaging.

This is the original product to contain and popularise the controversial herbicide glyphosate. Controversial or not, this is the stuff of legend because it destroys rapidly-spreading and invasive weeds, including some of the toughest of weeds that other herbicides may struggle to put down. All you need to do is use it correctly, and perhaps apply it in a low dilution. For a sure kill, drill holes or make notches at an angle at the base of the tree and pour in Roundup solution or drop it in with the pipette.

Roundup spreads systemically in the stump (or plant) from root to shoot. At the same time, in theory at least, it gets de-activated almost on contact with soil where micro-organisms break it down. Thus, it is designed not to have undesirable after-effects.

Its efficacy seems to vary from batch to batch and can even vary widely. While some batches will blitz really tough-to-kill stumps and weeds, other batches have no discernible effect. In general, it is effective on ivy, Japanese knotweed, bamboo, horsetail, agapanthus, and yucca.

When you need the ‘nuclear option’ for large and tenacious tree stumps, use Roundup in a low dilution, say a 1:10 dilution or even 1:1, and persist with it.

Pros

  • Extremely effective, it will kill many types of tree stumps – Japanese knotweed, bamboo, and yucca.
  • If you get a good and fresh batch, your tree stump is as good as gone.
  • De-activates on contact with the soil so it will not linger on as a poison to strike later.

Cons

  • The nuisance value of having to dilute a potent toxic substance.
  • Some batches are virtually ineffective, and the product has a very short shelf life.
Buy Now From Amazon UK

Vitax SBK Stump Killer Concentrate

Glyphosate-free, Vitax’s SBK stump killer destroys tree stumps at the roots but does not harm grass; it is effective on bamboo, ivy, and brambles.

Vitax’s SBK range includes a tree stump killer packaged in concentrated form in bottles of 250 millilitres, each of which is meant to kill up to 8 stumps, killing them at the roots. Besides tree stumps, SBK is targeted to kill brushwood, woody weeds and hardwood saplings. However, it does not kill grass by design, not that you should be careless and let it get on your lawn.

If you want to avoid glyphosate, the chemical that is the mainstay of Roundup, and want a less controversial option, Vitax SBK tree stump killer is for you as it is free of glyphosate. It contains Triclopyr as its active ingredient. 

On a per-application basis, SBC is a little costlier than most of the competition.

The instructions are among the clearest and simplest to follow. They ask that you wait for ‘6 weeks to see results.’However, as with other stump killers, you will greatly increase your chances of killing the stump if you pre-drill big holes around the upper rim of the stump or make deep holes or cuts at an angle into the base of the stump, and pour SDK into these holes or cuts.

SBK tree stump killer is actually very effective on – among other species – bamboo, ivy, wisteria, and brambles.

Pros

  • Very effective on certain species including fast-spreading bamboo and ivy.
  • Though deadly to weeds, it is designed to be harmless to grass.
  • Does not contain the controversial chemical glyphosate.

Cons

  • Somewhat costlier per application than other tree stump killers.
Buy Now From Amazon UK

How To Use Stump Killer

At the very least, wear goggles and put on gloves before handling tree stump killer (or any herbicide). Consider wearing disposable gloves because if you get tree stump killer on your regular gardening gloves you’ll need to thoroughly wash them. You may consider wearing closed-toe shoes and a long-sleeved shirt when handling these chemicals. Finally, make sure that pets are not nearby when you are applying any herbicide, and also make sure that pets will not try to eat any vegetation to which herbicide has been applied.

Do not put stump killer in your regular-use sprayer as even trace amounts of this highly toxic substance can be enough to damage and sicken garden plants. If you want to spray tree stump killer, it is good practice to keep a dedicated sprayer only for herbicides. 

Follow the instructions that came with the product and try these tips.

•  To maximise your chances of killing a stump, use stump killers during November to March. Check the weather forecast and make sure that it will not rain for at least 24 hours after application of the stump killer. 

•  Use a narrow paintbrush to paint tree stump killer all around the outer edge of the top of the stump.

•  Make several deep cuts or drill several big holes into the top of the stump just inside the ring of bark so that living tissue is exposed. Pour tree stump killer into the cuts or holes. 

•  You could also drill holes or make deep cuts at an angle into the base of the tree close to where the roots emerge from, and pour or inject tree stump killer into these holes or cuts. 

•  For tenacious stumps dilute the tree stump killer from 50 percent of the recommended dilution down to even one-tenth, or do not dilute it at all and use it raw.

•  Cover the stump with a black plastic sheet and keep it covered between applications.

•  Keep re-applying tree stump killer every week for a sure kill.

How Does Tree Stump Killer Work?

Tree stump killer liquid penetrates into the still-living tissue of the stump just inside the bark, the phloem and the cambium. From here this toxic substance circulates to the roots of the stump, poisoning them and rendering them ineffective. With the roots of the tree stump debilitated or dying, the stump cannot survive and eventually dies.

About the author

Kersasp 'Kersie' Shekhdar

Kersie learnt the basics of gardening as a toddler, courtesy of his grandfather. In his youth he was an active gardener with a preference for flowering plants. He is a professional and vocational writer and his freelance projects have spanned various kinds of writing.

Leave a Comment