Planting Tree – On Top of Stump

Q: We lost a really big tulip poplar back in the fall to twin lightning strikes.The tree service ground the stump, a process I naively assumed meant the entire stump. However, when I tried to plant a five-gallon sugar maple in the same spot yesterday, I hit stump about 18 inches below the surface. It was a 4-foot diameter poplar or so, so you can imagine how broad the sub-surface trunk was. I came to find out that stump grinders actually only go down enough for you to plant ornamentals or grass, if you wish.

Anyway, as I said, I only have 18 inches of ground to work with. Assuming the remains of that stump (which could still be pretty substantial vertically, I have no way of knowing) aren’t going to deteriorate very fast, can you recommend any options (chemical or otherwise) to attack if I still want to use that spot for the maple?

A: I think you’re fine, but I wouldn’t plant directly on top of the stump if you can avoid it. I’d worry that as the stump decomposed, the eventual weight of the maple would cause it to subside.

I recommend you plant the maple a couple of feet to the side of the stump, on solid ground.

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