Removing the Stump for the Tree

October 19, 2021 · 1 minute read

Two questions I get asked fairly frequently are, Can I replant where a tree once stood or where a stump was recently in the ground? And, if so, What type of tree should I replace it with?

If you decide to replant a tree, finding an alternate spot from the tree you’ve lost or removed is usually recommended. If you must use the same spot, then good site preparation is important. A thorough stump grinding (so as not to plant into a wood encased hole), removal of most of the excess grindings, and waiting will be key to success. However, If you’re like me and suffer from an impatient disposition then adding lots of good nutritious soil is very important. Also, I recommend planting a much smaller diameter tree than the previous tree removed. This will give those old roots that inevitably get left behind more time to decompose. 

Grindings and wood chips can be a good mulch on top of soil but are not good on their own for a newly planted tree to sit in. With a majority soil mixture, as the grindings break down they can be good for providing nutrients. But the stump grindings on their own will have a high carbon to nitrogen ratio thus compromising nitrogen availability for the new tree.

I’ve had good luck planting in an area of a stump that was ground years before. I think it also helped re-establish the solidity of the ground. Whereas before, there was just a re-occurring depression. 

If removal of the old tree was due to death, if possible, it’s important to understand what led to the decline. I’ve seen newly planted trees die, then found out that they weren’t the first newly planted trees in that spot to die. The same poorly irrigated ground kept drowning the trees every time they were planted.

Lastly, as for which tree species to plant, I think all the usual rules still apply; light, shade, location, etc. In short, plant the right tree in the right spot, maybe that spot happens to be where another tree once existed.