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Digging up tree trunks

Wrigs21Wrigs21 Posts: 39
Morning all 

I’ve chopped down an unruly Yew tree that needed to go as was causing issues. What’s everyone’s best tips for removing said roots/trunk and how long would you leave the ground before replanting the area? 

Steve 😁


  • Spade, trowel, crow bar or pole, small pruning saw and hatchet.

    Dig around the roots. Try and clear out a couple of feet from the stump and down to below the roots (or main part of of the root stump if there's a straight down root).

    Use the pole or crow bar to pole out soil between roots and lever. Saw and chop each root that comes out from the main stump.

    Keep the stump tall as you have for leverage because there's always a couple of roots that are hard to get close enough to cut and with a wrecking bar or similar and good bit of height on the stump you can maybe pull or rip the last bits.

    Don't know about planting after yew. Following a decrepit pine tree the soil is pretty rubbish.
  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 9,885
    Yew roots remain alive when the tree is defoliated and will grow back (unlike conifers which will die and the roots of which will start to rot quite quickly), so they are going to be tougher to remove and you may need a stump grinder or mini digger.  It's good that you left a decent amount of trunk to give leverage though and (if feeling strong), a few hours with a mattock, a friend and using your combined weights to rock the trunk back and forth while severing roots will eventually get the job done.  Remove as many of the larger sections of root still in the ground as you can to prevent regrowth from those.
    If you then dig-in as much well-rotted manure as you can lay your hands on then cover the ground with a layer of the same over winter, you should be good to plant next spring.
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Wrigs21Wrigs21 Posts: 39
    Excellent. Thanks both. Sounds like I have a job on my hands and nothing beats a bit of brute force! Sadly a diggers out of the question due to garden access and hill 
  • LynLyn DevonPosts: 16,776
    Pick axe or mattock and some heavy duty secateurs for the roots as you go. 
    We've become experts at removing unwanted trees since we’ve been here.😀
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • LynLyn DevonPosts: 16,776
    If it’s near the road you could tie a rope to your car and pull it out.  That’s the silly fun way.
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • Wrigs21Wrigs21 Posts: 39
    Lyn said:
    If it’s near the road you could tie a rope to your car and pull it out.  That’s the silly fun way.
    Ha ha I wish. Garden sits on a steep hill behind the house so won’t play sadly. Going to have to go in the hard way! 
  • Forester_PeteForester_Pete DevonPosts: 94
    After trying to dig and winch out some stumps I resorted to a sledge hammer and a star shaped log splitter. With that I was able to take the stumps apart piece by piece. Some degree of excavating with a mattock to expose the base of the stump certainly helped too.
  • ErgatesErgates DevonPosts: 85
    Mattock really useful for digging round the roots. We’ve taken out far bigger than that, hard work and takes a while but can be done!
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