How to Make a Stump Puller

Darby Stevenson

When removing trees or bushes from your property, one of the most enduringly troublesome steps can be finding what to do with the stump.

A stump puller system needs a method of weakening and removing the roots.

Professional stump removal services use a stump grinder; however, buying or renting one of these may be unrealistic of you simply want to remove one or more small stumps from your yard. You can make your own stump puller setup by assembling some ammonium sulfamate to weaken the roots, cutting the roots with an axe and pulling the stump with a winch.


Do not attempt to pull the stump with the winch alone before weakening it. This could damage your vehicle and yard.

Weaken the Stump

  1. Cut the stump down to size with an axe or chain saw. Leave about 1 foot sticking out of the top so that you have something to work with.

  2. Drill some holes into the stump from the top with the 1-inch drill bit. Pour the ammonium sulfamate, or some other stump removal liquid, into the holes. Wait two to three weeks for the chemical to weaken the root structure of the stump.

  3. Dig a trench around the stump. The trench should be at least 9 inches away from the edge of the stump and around 1 foot deep. If the stump is large, dig the trench farther away.

  4. Go around the stump with the grub hoe or landscape bar. If you are using the grub hoe, stand on one side of the stump and swing the grub hoe down into the earth on the other side, so that the blade enters the trench and cuts into the earth around the stump. The purpose of this is to break off the roots. If the roots are small and you can tell that they have all been broken off, proceed directly to Section 2.

  5. Identify the roots that are too large to break with the grub hoe or landscape bar. Chop these roots with the axe or cut them with a hammer. Continue around the stump with the grub hoe or landscape bar, removing dirt and small roots, until the trench goes almost completely under the stump. The stump is now almost completely disconnected and ready to be pulled.

Remove the Stump

  1. Fill the trench around the stump with water. This will weaken the dirt holding in the remaining roots.

  2. Wrap the winch chain around the base of the stump, in the trench. Clip the chain to itself.

  3. Activate the emergency brake on your vehicle, turn on the winch and slowly start pulling the stump. If the winch gets stuck, stop the motor, look at the stump and find the root that is still holding the stump in. Chop the root with the axe.