Manual Tree Stump Removal with a Bottle Jack

Manually removing a tree stump is a laborious task but deeply satisfying when completed. Not to mention, it is also aesthetically more pleasing having the stump fully removed from the garden.

There are no shortcuts by use of hand tools. It is hard work. However, with the right tools, the following method will work even in situations where a a truck and chain won’t work.

The Tree Stump to Remove

A truck and chain would of been a nice option to remove this medium sized stump; but, due to it being a busy residential area, it was not an option for safety reasons. An excavator, was also not an option due to prohibitive costs. Lastly, toxic tree stump chemicals were declined due children in the area, and it taking too long (30 days) to rot the wood.

Manually removing the stump by hand tools was the most reasonable option.

Tree Stump

Tools Required

Pictured below are the tools used most often for digging around the stump in rocky soil, and cutting visible roots.

Tools for manual tree stump removal


A digging bar can loosen and chip through rocks and roots. In addition, it is easier to stand and use a digging bar for creating deeper holes in spots other tools cannot fit. It is the second most useful tool.

The next tool, a pick and mattock, is the most useful tool for digging around the stump. Forget the shovel, as it is only good for removing loose dirt. When there are rocks and roots, the pick end will effectively loosen them.

Cutting Roots

Loppers work well at cutting small roots, while a folding saw is useful for cutting medium sized roots in confined areas.

For large roots, a hand saw works well but the area needs to be clear for the blade to move. Alternatively, an axe or hatchet can chop large roots, but they will dull quickly when they strike against rocks or stones.

Manual Jack

A manual jack is useful for lifting and moving a tree stump to expose or break roots growing straight down into the ground.

12 Ton Hydraulic Bottle Jack

A 12 Ton Hydraulic Bottle Jack is best for large tree stumps, like above. However, a large root needs to be exposed and dug under by at least 10 inches to fit the jack.

For small trees, a 48” Farm Jack is a better option. A chain can be wrapped around the stump and attached to the jack’s bottom clamp; or with the lower height restriction of the bottom clamp, it can be wedged under the roots. The primary advantage of the farm jack is the clamp can move several feet instead of inches (bottle jack). Disadvantages, though, is more space is needed to move the arm and it has a smaller rated load capacity (3.5 ton).

In this situation, the farm jack could not break the stump free from the ground, whereas, the bottle jack could in several repeated steps.

Tree Stump Removal Instructions

  1. Dig around the stump, at least 1-2 feet deep, and cut any visible roots.
    Dig around the tree stump and cut the roots
  2. Find a solid point around the stump to fit the bottle jack under, like a large root, and dig under it to fit the jack.
  3. Fit the bottle jack onto a solid surface under the root or the tree stump.
    Note: A solid surface prevents the jack from digging into the ground and stabilizes its base.
    Manual tree stump removal with a bottle jack-01
  4. Extend the jack all the way
    Manual tree stump removal with a bottle jack-02
  5. Anchor the stump with some blocks, and release the jack.
    Manual tree stump removal with a bottle jack-03
  6. Raise the solid surface and fit the bottle jack under the root again.
    An alternative step is to circle around the stump and select a different spot.
    Manual tree stump removal with a bottle jack-04
  7. Repeat steps 4-6 until the stump has broken free from the ground.
    Manual tree stump removal with a bottle jack-05
    Manual tree stump removal with a bottle jack-06
    Manual tree stump removal with a bottle jack-07
    Manual tree stump removal with a bottle jack-08
  8. Cut any remaining roots attached to the ground
    Pull the stump from the ground


Finally remove the root from the ground and go relax. After all that hard work, a long break is well deserved!

Tree stump successfully removed.JPG

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