Can You Plant a Tree Over a Ground Stump?

Having a stump in your garden or anywhere near your house could ruin the landscape. Perhaps that is why many people immediately replace a lost tree with a new one. However, if you’ve ever tried this, you might have noticed — replacement trees usually don’t last very long. If you’ve ever wondered why then keep on reading!

First and foremost, planting a tree should not be your immediate response. Before you resort to any drastic measures, there are several factors to take into consideration. For example:

  • The way the stump was removed
  • The condition of the soil
  • The size of the new tree

Now, let’s go over each of those factors.

The way the stump was removed

Trees usually fall due to bad weather or age. When that happens, the tree will leave behind a stump. More often than not, the stump will have to be manually by professionals. However, most tree removal businesses don’t usually remove the entire stump — they simply grind it down.

As a result, you might be left with a big hole that is filled with sawdust. What’s more, most businesses don’t even bother to remove the roots of the fallen tree. These roots and sawdust could take up to three years to decompose completely. That’s a significant disadvantage because the leftover sawdust and roots will reduce the amount of available space. Therefore, they might hinder any future landscaping plans. Furthermore, if you plan a new tree over the stump, the old roots will take up space that’s needed for the new tree’s roots to grow. Inevitably, without access to enough nutrients, the roots will die and so will the tree.

What to do if the stump has not been removed:

If you have to remove the stump on your own, try to speed up the decomposition. To do that, first combine equal quantities of soil, compost, and a high-nitrogen fertilizer. Then, drill holes into the stump and fill them with the mixture.

Extra tip:

  • After removing the stump, fill the hole with dirt, preferably dirt from the same location. This should expedite the decomposition and enrich the soil with fresh nutrients.

The condition of the soil

Good soil is the key to the healthy growth of any tree — new or existing. Unfortunately, sawdust and old roots could affect the quality of the soil, and hinder the tree growth.

If the tree stump removal is done haphazardly, sawdust or wood chips that are left behind can reduce the amount of nitrogen in the soil. Nitrogen is vital for healthy plant growth and an essential part of photosynthesis. Therefore, low nitrogen levels will lead to yellowing of the leaves, and, ultimately, cripple your tree so much that it dies.

Moreover, as mentioned before, old roots will use up all the nutrients in the soil. Young trees require a lot of nutrients to grow to their full potential, and old rootage will essentially sabotage them.

  • Test the soil before you plant a new tree. If the nitrogen levels are too low, try adding nitrogen to the soil before planting the new tree.
  • Use a pickaxe or a similar tool to chop off any remaining roots from the old tree.

The size of the new tree

If the replacement tree is the same size as the old one, it might not be able to expand the root structure enough to gather the necessary nutrients for growth. What’s more, there’s a possibility that the soil doesn’t even have enough nutrients, because the old rootage used them all up. Therefore, getting a smaller three might be a better option, as it doesn’t require as many nutrients as a big, adult tree does. Unsure on how to tackle this problem yourself? Contact our tree service in Rockford, IL today!

An even better alternative would be to abandon the idea of planting a new tree over the old one. Instead, planting grass or flowering plants in that spot is a much more viable option, and the advantages are twofold:

  • The hole will be covered and your landscape will still look pristine
  • You don’t have to worry about the level of nutrients or root space because flowers and grass don’t require as much as a tree does.