How to Remove a Tree Stump

By Staff

Sponsored by John Deere

Trees are wonderful. They provide shade for our property, cooling us in the hot summer months. They create windbreaks, helping protect our homes from cold winter winds. But nothing lasts forever. Trees can become diseased or just grow old. Or, sometimes, they just prove to be in the way. So eventually, for one reason or another, one has to be removed.

Not long ago there was a 30-foot persimmon tree that this property owner was fed up with having to mow around. Now, all that’s left is a stump, which has to come out. So the plan is to dig down and around the stump on all sides using 4 tools – the tractor, the backhoe, a shovel and a chainsaw. Then, when all is done, the stump will be lifted out of the hole and disposed of according to local practice and regulations.

For this project, we used a John Deere 260 backhoe that had been factory-installed on a John Deere 1025R Compact Utility Tractor. We also added an H120 loader and a Frontier Pallet Fork for ballast on the front of the tractor.

Position Backhoe

The 260 backhoe has a reach of 8 feet, 8 inches, and has a swing arc of 150 degrees. That’s important because it will allow the operator to minimize the number of times she’ll have to reposition the tractor to be able to dig all around and ultimately remove the stump. So first, Caitlin will position the tractor and backhoe so she can dig up the most material and put it as far away from the hole as possible, while limiting the number of times she’ll need to move the tractor.

With any project around your property, operating your equipment correctly is always important. So once she’s positioned the tractor and backhoe, she’ll set the tractor’s parking brake, set the transmission into neutral, and follow all the other start-up procedures outlined in the Operator’s Manual.

Using the boom and bucket control levers, Caitlin can dig on three sides of the stump from a single tractor position and deposit the dug-out material to both the left and right.

The soil around this stump has a lot of clay content. So we used a shovel to loosen and remove the clay that’s in and around some of the major roots, which will help free the stump. A stump from a tree this size will have roots that stretch wide and deep. So eventually, you may need to cut away some of the larger, deeper roots so the stump will come free. That’s where the chain saw comes into play.

After about 2 hours of digging, this stump came free. Now it’s time to get it out of the hole.

We did that by using a heavy-duty ratchet winch strap. We ran the strap under the freed stump, then up to and around the backhoe bucket, and tightened it securely. You could also use a suitable chain for lifting.

Then, using the backhoe’s 285-pound boom lift capacity, Caitlin lifted the 3-foot X 4-foot stump out of the hole and carried it to the disposal area. All in, start to finish, about 2.5 hours of work.

Remember: always read the Operator’s Manual before operating any piece of equipment and follow all operating and safety instructions.

If you’d like to see more tips and videos about getting all kinds of jobs done around your place, and the equipment you need to do them, visit

Need Help? Call 1-866-803-7096