Sometimes it is necessary to devitalize a stump. Discover the different natural and chemical techniques.

What is devitalization?

Devitalizing a stump is a technique for accelerating stump decomposition.
The stump is the remains of a felled tree, meaning the lower part of its trunk and root system.

It is useful for deciduous trees – exceptionally yew – and useless for conifers and softwoods which, once mature, no longer regrow from their stumps.

There are various solutions for removing stumps(mechanical stump removal, grubbing, etc.).

Devitalization is the technique that should be chosen as a last resort, the best is always to let nature take care of it!

Before taking any action, certain questions need to be asked

Can the strain stay, or does it really have to go?

A stump has very little chance of starting up again and becoming a tree, so a primary question is whether it can stay.

If left untended, it can become food for the biosystem of fauna (insects) and fungi.
If you maintain it (varnish it), you can transform it into a bench/table/stand, for example.

Without maintenance, can it grow back?

Depending on the species, this is possible … after several years.
Otherwise, in general: no
In the meantime, you have time to see it coming and not let it happen.
It’s not advisable to let it grow back either, as the basic stock is weakened, and if it grows back it will be weaker.

Can sprouts appear next to the stump?

Yes, it’s up to you if you want them to grow back, but if not, just cut them off before they become thick.

The basic action of root canalization

After cutting the stump, make holes a few centimetres from the bark, all the way along.
The holes are drilled with a wood bit and a drill.
They are +- 20 cm deep

The importance of this technique is to attack its supply network so that it conducts the substance that will lead to its downfall.
So there’s no need to make holes in the center, because contrary to popular belief, sap doesn’t move through the central layers.
It’s sadistic, so please don’t be a sensitive soul.

For those who, having felled the tree, don’t want to do any more harm but still want the stump to disappear, regardless of how long it takes.
Cut the stump as close to the ground as possible and cover it with a good layer of soil or a black opaque tarpaulin. This will increase the accessibility of fauna and fungi and the stump will rot naturally (up to ten years).

How much time do you have?

Natural solutions

  • climatic devitalization :

    It requires holes large enough to fill with rainwater (e.g. 18mm drill bits).
    The action of water infiltration to promote rotting and the weakening of the internal structure when there is frost will be enough to prevent the stump from healing.
    Allow 3-4 years.

  • garlic root canal:

    To be done at the end of summer, when the sap is about to descend into the roots.
    Place a garlic clove in each hole and fill in with clay soil.
    As the pod germinates, it releases a toxic substance, which is carried by the sap to the end of its root system.
    Allow 2-4 years.

  • devitalization by fire :

    This technique is forbidden in the city, but only if you’re in a rural area, the weather is dry in summer, there are no buildings nearby and your municipality allows it.
    Place leaves and twigs on the stump and light a fire.
    Keep a close eye on it with a watering can in hand.


The chemical solution

  • product devitalization :

    This is an action to be repeated every month.
    Using a funnel, place spirit vinegar / sodium chlorate / ammonium sulfate (Epsom salt)… in the holes and cover with clay soil, monitoring and repeating until the tree is exhausted.
    Allow 1-2 years.

  • Toxic root canalization :

    Insert the phyto product into the holes using a syringe.
    Be careful not to spill any, as every drop will kill life wherever it lands.
    Decomposition is significant, and there’s virtually no need to come back to harvest.
    Allow a few months.


The tree had grown between a building and the adjoining wall.
In order to find light, he pushed against the wall, weakening it and putting it at risk of falling.
There was no direct access, you had to go through the party wall.
It would have been very difficult to get a machine through and handle it.

To prevent further damage from the trunks, pruning was carried out with restraint.


What’s next?

The stump, deprived of its ability to regenerate, loses the possibility of keeping its root system in action.
Because what holds a tree together is not its main roots, but its micro-roots, which are practically invisible to the human eye.
As this system disappears, it becomes easier to pull out the stump.

To prevent the stump from ripping out after devitalization, use either devitalization by fire or by toxic product.



In view of the legislation, it is likely that the phyto solution is only available to professionals with a phyto-licence.
Ask your gardener if he has one, to make sure he knows how to handle the product responsibly.

On the other hand, natural root canalization and the product are accessible to all, so if you have the time, make your choice.

Devitalization is not instantaneous (except by fire), so if you’re short of time, a trimming machine is the quickest mechanical solution.
You can rent it or hire a professional gardener.
The next step is to attack with an axe, or to pull out with a tripod-mounted pulley.


Revitalize your stump with PLAISIR VERT, contact us


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