A customer has asked:

My wife and I are moving to Buckingham soon and we have a few tree stumps in the garden that need removing. Is there anything, chemical, that will eat or destroy these things or will we have to employ someone to remove them? Thanks in advance for your help, Bren.

Chris replies:

You need to cut the stumps down as nearest to soil level as possible. Stump and root killers currently on the market are those containing Glyphosate (e.g. Scotts Roundup Tree Stump & Rootkiller, Bayer Tree Stump Killer, Doff Tree Stump & Tough Weedkiller and William Sinclair Deep Root Ultra Tree Stump & Weedkiller) or Triclopyr (Vitax SBK Brushwood Killer).

I have often drilled holes into the tree trunk using a masonry bit and then filled these with the chemical treatment as well. Sealing the holes with Blu-Tac so the rain doesn’t dilute the mixture. Re-growth can occur on certain trees – namely the likes of Alder and Hazel. These will definitely require repeat treatment to kill them off. The good news is generally conifers don’t re-grow from the base.

Here’s a few other pointers you may find helpful.

• Always follow the manufacturer’s preferred method. This may involve treating the entire cut surface of the stump, drilling holes around the living edge of the stump to pour the granules into, or using a chisel or axe to make wedge-shaped incursions around the edge of the bark (often used for standing trees). These notches can then be filled with granules or brushed with the liquid weedkiller.

• The best time to apply stump killers is from autumn to winter. Avoid treatment in spring and early summer when the sap is rising.

• Apply a weedkiller directly to the stump, concentrating it in the outer ring of live tissue just beneath the bark.

• Weedkiller is best applied to fresh stumps, as live tissue is needed for its uptake. If the stump is only a few weeks old, you may be able to expose live tissue by cutting the top off to expose a fresh-cut surface.

• Finally, cover the whole top of the stump with a plastic sheet to keep off the rain and secure in place.