Which Is The Best Tree Stump Killer? Reviews and Buyers Guide

An old tree stump is an unsightly feature in your yard, regardless of whether it is sprouting and trying to regrow or just taking up valuable space.

Hiring someone to grind up the old stump or trying to remove it by hand are viable options, but they will both cost you time and money. So, what should you do? 

A better option is to use a chemical stump killer to expedite rot and remove the stump quickly and easily. But with so many products available, it can be hard to find one that will actually work the way you want it to.

To help you navigate the over-saturated stump killer market, we’ve put together these detailed reviews so you can find the best stump killer for your needs. We’ll also share our handy buyer’s guide and answer some frequently asked stump killer questions.

Let’s get started!

dry and old tree stump

Summary Table

ProductDetailsWhere to Buy

Tordon RTU Herbicide
Tordon RTU Herbicide

**Editor's Choice**

Active ingredient: 2,4-D and picloram
Type: liquid
Tools required: spray bottle or paintbrush optional
Check Price on Amazon

VPG Fertilome 32295 32Oz Brush Stump Killer
VPG Fertilome 32295 32Oz Brush Stump Killer

Active ingredient: triclopyr
Type: liquid
Tools required: spray bottle or paintbrush optional
Check Price on Amazon

Spectracide HG-66420 Stump Remover
Spectracide HG-66420 Stump Remover

Active ingredient: potassium nitrate
Type: granules
Tools required: drill, hot water
Check Price on Amazon

Bonide 274 728639280241 Vine & Stump Killer
Bonide 274 728639280241 Vine & Stump Killer

Active ingredient: triclopyr
Type: liquid
Tools required: paintbrush (included)
Check Price on Amazon

Bonide BND272
Bonide BND272

Active ingredient: sodium metabisulfite
Type: granule
Tools required: drill, water
Check Price on Amazon

BioAdvanced 704640B 704640 Brush Killer
BioAdvanced 704640B 704640 Brush Killer

Active ingredient: triclopyr
Type: liquid
Tools required: brush optional
Check Price on Amazon

Monterey LG5367 Brush, Vine and Stump Killer
Monterey LG5367 Brush, Vine and Stump Killer

Active ingredient: triclopyr
Type: liquid
Tools required: brush optional
Check Price on Amazon

Copper Sulfate Crystals
Copper Sulfate Crystals

Active ingredient: copper sulfate
Type: crystals
Tools required: drill
Check Price on Amazon

Top Pick

Best Choice

Tordon RTU Herbicide

Tordon RTU Herbicide

  • Powerful formula
  • Fast results
  • Ready to use
  • Won’t clog

For stubborn trees that won’t die, oversized stumps, and still standing trees that you need to kill fast, you’ll want a powerful herbicide that works quickly. We haven’t found anything more powerful or easy to use than Tordon RTU. This product comes highly recommended by foresters and arborists and can be used to decompose a stump or kill a tree’s root system to stop sprouts from taking over your yard.

What We Look For

Wondering how we determine what makes one stump killer better than the next? Here are the three main features we look at.

Does It Work?

This is by far the most critical aspect of any product but especially important when talking about chemical stump killers. If the product doesn’t work well for multiple applications or isn’t exceptionally powerful at one particular application, it isn’t worth reviewing.

Ease of Application

When it comes to a product that you really don’t want to get on your skin or spill on the ground, ease of application is paramount. We chose only products that were ready to use or simple to prepare, and even easier to apply.

How Safe Is It?

In the world of stump killers, the safety of a product is often directly at odds with how effective it is. When choosing the best stump killers to feature, we were mindful of balancing how well a product worked and how safe it was to use.

Best Stump Killer Reviews

With the above features in mind, here are the eight best stump killers to help you remove stubborn stumps effectively, quickly, and safely.

Tordon RTU Herbicide

Tordon RTU Herbicide

Key Specifications

  • Blue dye for easy tracking
  • Ready to use liquid
  • Can be applied in multiple ways

Tordon RTU uses a unique set of active ingredients that kill stumps quickly and effectively. We like this blue liquid because you can use it for a variety of jobs. You can even apply it to stumps and living trees through boreholes, slits, or simply by painting it on a freshly cut stump. Just be careful not to splash or spill. This herbicide will kill surrounding plants and foliage just as quickly!

This 32-ounce bottle costs a bit more than others on our list but has a broader range of applications, making it more likely you will use the entire bottle.

Pros

  • Works to prevent new growth almost immediately
  • Easy to apply
  • Can be used on shrubs, vines, weeds, and trees
  • Can also be used to rot out dead stumps

Cons

  • Will kill any plant it contacts
  • No applicator included

VPG Fertilome 32295 32Oz Brush Stump Killer

VPG Fertilome 32295 32Oz Brush Stump Killer

Key Specifications

  • Effective for a wide range of woody plants 
  • Easy to apply
  • Targets living brush, vines, and trees

If you have a freshly cut stump that won’t stop sprouting, VPG Brush Stump Killer can put a quick end to that. This triclopyr-based stump killer targets living plant material to prevent new growth and quickly kill the tree’s root system. Customers have also found that it’s highly effective against vines, poison ivy, brush, and other woody plants.

The herbicide in this product is more focused than others but still can kill certain desirable foliage, so be careful when applying it. The bottle doesn’t come with any kind of application cap, but the spout is easy enough to pour from onto large stumps. Or you can paint it on or use a spray bottle.

Pros

  • More focused application
  • Works fast to eradicate many troublesome species
  • No need to drill holes

Cons

  • Clear liquid is hard to track 
  • No applicator included

Spectracide HG-66420 Stump Remover

Spectracide HG-66420 Stump Remover

Key Specifications

  • Safe to use around other foliage
  • Applicator cap built-in
  • Speeds up decomposition for fast removal

Many stump remover products contain chemicals needed to kill sprouting or recently felled trees. If you have a dead stump that you simply need to remove, then you want a product like Spectracide Stump Remover.

This stump remover is made of 100% potassium nitrate, which means it will help speed up the rotting process of previously killed stumps without harming any nearby foliage. For the best results with this product, you will have to do a little work and show some patience.

man pouring Spectracide Stump Remover

We recommend letting the stump dry as long as possible after killing it with one of the products listed above. To get the granules where they need to go, drill multiple deep, wide holes (at least ¾ inch), pack them full, and slowly pour on hot water.

This stump remover can take up to 6 months to work. But it is an excellent option if you are trying to remove a stump in your garden or another area that requires a delicate touch.

Pros

  • Will not harm nearby plants or trees
  • No-mess granules
  • No unnecessary ingredients

Cons

  • Requires some preparation
  • May need multiple applications for large stumps
  • Takes time to work

Bonide 274 728639280241 Vine & Stump Killer

Bonide 274 728639280241 Vine & Stump Killer

Key Specifications

  • Perfect for small jobs
  • Easy to apply
  • Paintbrush built into the cap

I hate accumulating half-empty bottles of chemicals. Because throwing them out requires a trip to the landfill, they just take up space in my garage. If you have a small stump to get rid of or just a few annoying vines, you’ll only need a small amount of stump killer to get the job done. If you don’t want to buy more chemicals than you need for these types of jobs, we recommend the perfectly sized Bonide Vine & Stump Killer.

This 8-ounce bottle is large enough for two or three applications on a large cut stump or to address that clump of pesky vines along your fence line. Like other triclopyr products, you can apply this stump killer directly to freshly cut surfaces. The newer bottles even include a handy brush built right into the top.

Pros

  • Small bottle means no leftover chemicals
  • Safe to use around other foliage
  • Can be applied directly to the stump surface

Cons

  • Takes time to work
  • Multiple applications may be necessary
  • Drilling holes may be necessary for larger trunks

Bonide BND272

Bonide BND272

Key Specifications

  • Potassium-nitrate-free
  • Non-explosive
  • Safe to use around other foliage

If you have a large, dead stump that you plan to burn to remove, using a stump rotter will help prepare the wood for a more effective burn. But burning a stump that has been treated with a nitrate-based stump remover can be problematic due to the explosive nature of this chemical. For stumps that you intend to burn, Bonide BND272 is a better option.

This stump remover is made of sodium metabisulfite instead of potassium nitrate. If any of the product is left in the stump when you burn it, it will not explode as other stump removers might. This chemical does not work as quickly as more traditional options and does require you to wait 12 to 18 months for the stump to dry out before applying it. But for large stumps that you plan to burn, this is your safest option.

Pros

  • Safe to use with stumps you intend to burn
  • Will not harm nearby plants or trees
  • Works well on large stumps

Cons

  • Requires deep drill holes
  • Takes time to work 
  • Multiple applications may be necessary

BioAdvanced 704640B 704640 Brush Killer

BioAdvanced 704640B 704640 Brush Killer

Key Specifications

  • Kills over 70 types of weeds
  • Powerful and effective on stumps and vines
  • Can apply directly to stumps

If you have a stubborn stump that other herbicides have failed to kill, BioAdvanced Brush Killer is your answer. This powerful triclopyr herbicide is effective against those difficult weedy tree species that other stump killers can’t touch. Plus, you can use it as a traditional spray herbicide on vines and weeds.

Have an overgrown yard with a lot of problem areas? This versatile herbicide will offer you the most benefits in one bottle. It is seriously powerful, though, so be mindful of where you spray and how you apply it. It will kill anything it touches. You’ll want to dilute it to apply to brush and weeds, but for stumps, you can pour the liquid directly onto the wood.

Pros

  • Versatile
  • Can be used as a diluted spray or in concentrate form
  • Works in as little as 1 to 6 weeks 
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Will kill flowers and desirable trees if not careful
  • Wide spout makes directed pouring difficult
  • Need to wait six weeks between applications

Monterey LG5367 Brush, Vine and Stump Killer

Monterey LG5367 Brush, Vine and Stump Killer

Key Specifications

  • Targets woody vines, brush, and stumps
  • Easy to apply
  • Fast results

Looking for a stump killer that can offer quick results? Users of Monterey Brush, Vine, and Stump Killer have reported results in as little as 24 hours. On small saplings and vines, especially, this triclopyr-based herbicide will take care of the problem fast.

To get these kinds of quick results, we recommend cutting trees and brush down to the ground and then pouring the concentrate directly onto the wood. Keep the area protected from rain for at least a day to help the product penetrate the roots without being washed away. This will also help keep neighboring plants safe, as this product will kill many types of flowers and desirable plants.

Pros

  • Works quickly and effectively
  • Can be used on over 50 different weedy plants and trees
  • Small spout makes for easy pouring

Cons

  • Will kill desirable plants and trees
  • Multiple applications necessary on thick, uncut vines
  • Takes a long time to dry

Copper Sulfate Crystals

Copper Sulfate Crystals

Key Specifications

  • Simple to use
  • Highly effective at killing root systems
  • For use on living and dead stumps

Many products on this list work to kill still-living stumps or to rot dead stumps. If you need to accomplish both, you often have to buy two products. If you’d rather avoid that extra step, Copper sulfate crystals are a great way to go.

When stuffed into deep drill holes within the stump, these versatile crystals will kill and decompose the wood. Copper sulfate is so effective at killing and rotting trees that you can flush it down the toilet to destroy roots in your sewer pipes. You can also use it to kill algae in ponds, eradicate fungus, and even disinfect surfaces. It is a very caustic substance, so always wear gloves and eye protection when using it, and be careful not to get it on plants you want to keep around.

Pros

  • Wide-ranging applications
  • Will kill and rot out tree stumps
  • Affordable

Cons

  • May require multiple applications
  • Highly caustic
  • Harmful to neighboring plants if spilled 

Stump Killer Buying Guide

You will need to consider different aspects before purchasing a stump-killing product. Our buying guide simplifies it so you can understand a stump killer’s usefulness and effectiveness. 

Active Ingredient

Most stump killers contain one or a combination of these four herbicides in their active ingredients. Each works a little bit differently to kill or rot the stump.

Potassium Nitrate

close up picture of potassium nitrate

Potassium nitrate is one of the most common ingredients in stump removers. Nitrogen is well-known for speeding up the decomposition process. Products that are high in potassium nitrate are effective for rotting stumps to make them easier to remove. Straight potassium nitrate stump killers typically come in granular form. While this substance is highly effective, it can take some time to work.

Magnesium Sulfate

Magnesium sulfate is what makes up Epsom salt. In small amounts, this compound helps enrich the soil and add nutrients that help plants thrive. In high concentrations, it can be deadly to trees and plants. It also helps expedite the decomposition process. This type of salt is less common in chemical stump killers but popular in more natural solutions. It is much safer for you and the environment than other chemicals but takes a lot longer to work.

Glyphosate

grocery aisle with RoundUp products

This specialized compound is a common weed killer and is found in most RoundUp products. It is highly effective for killing just about any kind of plant. That makes it useful for killing tree sprouts and roots but also dangerous to use around the garden. So, you’ll need to be very careful where you apply this product. 

Triclopyr

This man-made stump killer ingredient only targets parts of the stump and roots living and actively growing. It mimics certain plant growth hormones and is most effective for controlling woody and broadleaf foliage growth. Triclopyr is very effective for killing trees and stopping felled trees from sprouting. It works quickly, but you’ll need to be cautious when applying. Avoid contact with the eyes and skin, and keep it away from nearby plants. 

How fast does it kill the stump?

Because stump killers contain varying ingredients, some tend to work faster than others. Often, how fast a product works is balanced by how safe it is to use. Products that are less toxic and less likely to kill neighboring plants tend to work more slowly and may even require additional applications. Those that utilize heavy-duty chemicals tend to work very quickly but must be applied more carefully.

Is It Multipurpose?

Many stump killers also work to kill bushes, vines, and even weeds. This versatility can be useful if you have many problem areas of various types to take care of. On the other hand, if your main concern is a problematic stump, then choosing a product made specifically for removing stumps might be cheaper and will carry less risk of accidentally killing off plants you want to keep.

Effect on Other Plants

old tree stump surrounded by weeds

With the exception of straight magnesium sulfate crystals, most stump killers pose some risk to surrounding plants. Those that are highly effective and highly versatile are the most likely to kill growth around the target area. Less versatile products will only harm other plants if they come into direct contact with the liquid or granules. You should carefully consider what kind of foliage surrounds your stump and how important it is to keep it alive before you choose your product.

Effect on Wildlife

Nearby plants aren’t the only thing that you need to consider when choosing your stump killer. Certain chemicals can also affect wildlife. Potassium nitrate and magnesium sulfate are the least likely to impact wild animals and pets but should still be used cautiously around waterways. More toxic chemicals like glyphosate and triclopyr should be used as minimally as possible around areas where animals frequent. Do not use it near waterways if possible.

Safety Considerations

Most commercial stump killers are safe to use as long as some precautions are taken. You should always wear gloves and eye protection. Some products contain chemicals that are more toxic and may require you wear a respirator or protective clothing. Whether a product is generally safe or mildly toxic, you should take care to apply it as carefully as possible and use the minimum amount needed to get the job done.

Stump Killer FAQ

Here are some common questions about the use and application of stump-killing chemicals.

Should tree stumps be removed?

The most important reason to remove a tree stump is to prevent future growth. Many trees will sprout from the stump and continue growing. If left to mature, these future trees are likely to become unstable, posing a risk to you and your property. Some trees will sprout from the roots, which can cause a lot of problems for the surrounding lawn and gardens. Not all trees will sprout after being chopped down. But even these will need to be removed to reclaim the space.

How long does it take to kill a tree stump?

How long it will take a tree stump to die back and rot depends on the product you use. Most commercial chemicals will work in 2 to 6 weeks. Larger stumps will take longer, as will those treated with more natural approaches.

What is the best stump killer?

For the best all-around stump killer, we like Tordon RTU Herbicide for how quick and effective it is. But to find the best stump killer for your needs, you need to consider what exactly you will be using the product for, what other plants are around the problem area, and how quickly you need the stump gone.

Are there natural ways to kill a tree stump?

If you don’t like the idea of using chemicals to remove a tree stump, there are plenty of natural methods that work. Salt, fertilizer, and fire are all effective when used correctly. You can learn more about these natural methods and get more ideas for how to kill tree stumps here.

Also have overgrown weeds in your backyard? There are 16 ways to get rid of weeds that you can try.

The Wrap Up

An effective stump killer will make quick work of unwanted trees and space-consuming stumps. For those tough jobs, you’ll want to turn to the best stump killer on the market, the Tordon RTU.

This highly effective and powerful herbicide will kill and rot out that old stump so you can finally get rid of it to clean up your lawn and surrounding gardens. If you have many trees, vines, and weeds to take care of, this one product can handle it all.

If all you need is to rot out an old, dead stump, Bonide BND272 will get the job done without killing neighboring foliage. Or, if a living, sprouting stump is giving you problems, VPG Brush Stump Killer will quickly and effectively kill it off.

About The Author

Aaron is the founder of and Essential Home and Garden. He likes to spend his spare time with his family, and doing DIY projects in the home and garden.