Killing Tree Stumps With Motor Oil ( 3 simple steps)

Having tree stumps can be a deforestation issue for some. That’s why we’ve created this guide to help with removing tree trumps with the help of motor oil. Throughout this guide, we’ll explain:

  • Why Are Tree Stumps Bad?
  • How to Kill Tree Stumps With Motor Oil
  • How to Drill Holes into Your Tree Stump
  • Can I Use a Stump Grinder?
  • What Should I Avoid Using When Killing Tree Stumps With Motor Oil? 
  • F.A.Q.

Before you tried to kill tree stumps we recommend you try and decorate or hide the tree stump with these creative ideas as its an easier option than killing it with motor oil.

How to Kill Tree Stumps With Motor Oil

  • Preparation

Before chopping the tree down, make sure that it is within a respectable distance. You’ll want to make sure that your tree isn’t damaging any fences, buildings, or powerlines. Consider hiring an arborist if any of these objects are in the way. For smaller trees, you can chop them down into a stump. 

For larger trees, you’ll want to cut off the branches first. Using a chainsaw or a handsaw, start removing the branches that are placed on the side of the trees. Then, cut the trunk of the tree into smaller sections until you have just the tree stump. Give it enough space so it can be wrapped around with a rope or a chain to be pulled out. 

  • Using Diesel Fuel to Remove the Tree Stump

With the help of a paintbrush, apply the diesel fuel around the tree stump. This will aid in your precision with applying the diesel, as you don’t want extra diesel fuel to be poured onto the ground. 

Use the diesel fuel with caution! Diesel fuel is toxic to plants and can destroy your garden if you’re not careful. Apply the diesel fuel immediately because the tree stump will begin to heal itself and the fuel will become less effective. 

  • Tree Stump Removal

When removing the tree stump, the easiest way to do so is by using a chainsaw to dig around it. Cut the tree stump off the ground for a few inches. After that, you can bury the stump and allow the adjacent grass to grow. 

Alternatively, you can burn the tree stump. The optimal way to burn a tree stump is by cutting the stump via the Swedish candle technique (ex: cut the tree into # hashtag like shapes). Once you’re done cutting the tree, you can burn the stump and remove it afterward.

How to Drill Holes into Your Tree Stump

If you have a power drill, you use it to start drilling holes inside the tree stump. The goal is to drill the holes in the tree stump, then add the motor oil so the stump will eventually die out over time. 

Make sure that your power drill matches the size of your oil drip system or syringe. Drill at least 12 holes around your tree stump. Make sure to drill down at least 2 inches of depth when using this method. However, you don’t want to extend the hole to 4 inches because it will cause the oil system to pool. 

After drilling the holes, begin pouring motor oil in them. For this technique to work properly, you’ll have to wait a few months before results appear. After a few months, your tree stump will die, and you can easily remove it from your backyard. 

Can I Use a Stump Grinder?

Using a stump grinder will aid in the stump removal process. In addition, if you have a larger tree stump or multiple stumps to remove, it will remove the guesswork for you. Here are some additional tools you’ll need:

  • Chainsaw
  • Shovel
  • Rake
  • Mattock

Remember, stump grinders can reach up to 1,000 lbs. So make sure you rent a vehicle that allows you to transport it to your lawn. 

Start by grabbing a shovel and removing dirt and other debris from the tree stump. Alternatively, you can use a mattock to help with cleaning the tree stump’s area. Cut as much of the stump as possible with a chainsaw. Lower the stump at around 3 inches and then move it through the lever. 

When using the grinding wheel, grind out about 4 inches to the grinder wheel. Repeat this process until the grinder is 4 inches underground. Fill up the hole with wood chips that are the remnants of the tree stump and cover it with grass or topsoil. 

While removing a tree stump with motor oil is a DIY project, you’re better off doing your research before starting. Stump grinders can be complex machines to operate, and you’ll need the right safety gear in order to use them properly. 

What Should I Avoid Using When Killing Tree Stumps With Motor Oil? 

First, you’ll want to avoid using any bleach products. While bleach is effective at killing tree stumps in mass, the chemicals are harmful to the plants surrounding it. Instead, you can use Epsom salt, as it is more environmentally friendly and is beneficial to the soil and plants. 

Also, you’ll want to be aware of the plants that are within proximity. For example, while the chemicals in Epsom salt can be good for plants, having too much of it will lead it to dry out.

Lastly, avoid any pets or children when using motor oil. The chemicals are dangerous and can potentially cause them to become ill. Keep them away from the backyard for a few days until the oil smell is released through the air. 


Overall, learning how to kill tree stumps with motor oil is a great way to organize your backyard. By doing this, you can keep trees that are beneficial to the biome while removing excessive amounts of tree stumps. Through a bit of safety and with the right equipment, you’ll have no issue clearing tree stumps for good. 


When Should I Call a Professional? 

  • For smaller tree stumps, you can easily remove them on your own. But if you have multiple stumps or a large tree stump, professional assistance is recommended. 
  • If waiting for months, operating fires, or removing stumps don’t seem attractive to you, you can always contact a professional who can help you. If you’re already removing a tree, ask the company to help with removing the trunk. They might charge an additional fee, but you can negotiate it to a reasonable rate because you’re already working with them. 

How to Manually Remove a Tree Stump?

  • Manually removing a tree stump is a labor-intensive process, but it will remove the tree immediately. It’s best to remove small to medium-sized tree trunks manually. If the stump is too large, you’re better off using a stump grinder. 
  • Use a mattock to loosen up the dirt and dig around the tree stump. With the help of a shovel, remove the dirt. This will allow you to see the tree roots and take them out of the ground. 
  • You can use either a small bow or a mattock to remove the tree roots from the trunk. Continue digging until you reach the taproot and clear an area around it. That way, it’s easier for you to remove the tree stump without the need for motor oil.
  • Next, cut open the taproot with an ax. After cutting through the taproot, you can move the stump around and place it back in the topsoil. While this process will take a few hours, you can rest assured that the tree stump is removed. 

Also read

How To Repair Lawn After Tree Removal

How Long Does it Take to Grind a Tree Stump

Does Diesel Kill Weeds?

Can You Use Old Motor Oil to Fertilize Your Lawn?

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