I have two large oak tree stumps. Will drilling them and applying sugar decompose them? Because of their position, I cannot grind them out.

Is there anything else that will speed the effects of decomposition, for example some type of acid, plain urea or something else?

4 Answers 4


Depending on the type of tree and your location, drilling holes and filling them with mushroom spore plugs might also work. The mushrooms will help to break down the stump, and you can harvest mushrooms from it in the meantime.

  • Will this work with fir and maple tree stumps in cold and wet climate up northern US?
    – Danger14
    Feb 12, 2022 at 13:13

If you have an auger, drill a bunch of holes...I mean saturate the stump with holes, fill those holes and cover the stump with manure. It will still take a long time to rot, but this will speed it up a lot.

  • 2
    Chicken manure has worked great for me in the past. I've also found that covering the stump in a pile of wet manure and then tarping over it with black plastic makes it go even faster.
    – J. Musser
    Feb 25, 2015 at 18:53
  • Horse manure has worked for me - keeps the stump warm(-ish) and moist for more efficient rotting. I've never bothered with the hole-driling step; in 6 months to a year I do take a pick to it (to break up any easily broken-up rotted parts and find any solid parts remaining) and add fresh manure if needed. Annual flowers on the topside of the pile if trying to look "nice."
    – Ecnerwal
    Feb 27, 2015 at 4:41

High nitrogen fertilizer in the already mentioned, drilled holes. The StumpBGone stuff you can get at greenhouse supply stores is usually nothing but potassium nitrate, so if you've already got a high nitrogen fertilizer, you can just use that. Keeping the stump damp will help fungus fluorish in the high nitrogen environment. Sugar is just carbon, hydrogen and oxygen; that'll get you yeasts, but no real lignin eaters, which is what you want.


You haven't said whether the stumps are still live or not - if they've recently been cut down and not treated with a stump killer, they will regrow, so that's the first thing to do. After that, there's not much you can do to speed things up other than leave fungal activity to do its thing, the majority of which goes on underground, where you can't see it happening. Using sugar to aid this process isn't something I've heard of, but keeping the stumps damp will. Don't soak the stumps regularly before the stump killer has had a chance to work, you don't want to wash that off. You could use organic materials to keep them more moist - grass clippings, etc.

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