How to Use your Backhoe to Remove a Tree Stump

posted on Friday, May 25, 2018 in News

A Step-by-Step Guide to Removing Tree Stumps from your Michigan Property

That dang tree stump. It seems like we’ve all got one. Maybe it was on your property in Michigan when you moved in. Maybe it’s a fresh addition to your yard from that one tree that just had to go. Whatever the reason, you’re sick of looking at it, mowing around it, and you want it gone — fast. While there may be more than one way to skin this cat, our experts will explain how to best remove a tree stump in the safest, most efficient way possible.

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Our compact utility tractor and implement experts recommend you have five tools:

  • John Deere compact utility tractor
  • Backhoe
  • Shovel to break up any dirt and clay
  • Chainsaw to cut through larger root structures
  • Heavy-duty strap or chain to haul it out. Depending on how big the stump is, you may want to have a front loader or pallet fork on the front of your tractor to balance out the backhoe.

For the purpose of this article, we’ll refer to a John Deere 1025R Compact Utility Tractor with a 260 Backhoe and an H120 loader.

Step 1: Get Your Backhoe in Position

The 260 backhoe has a reach of 8-feet, 8-inches from its pivot point with a swing arc of 150-degrees.

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  • Position your compact tractor and backhoe so you can dig out the most material on three sides of the stump and deposit it as far away from the hole as possible without having to move the tractor.
  • Lower the loader to the ground to help balance out the setup
  • Set the tractor’s parking brake so you’re secured to dig
  • Put the transmission into neutral
  • Rotate the tractor seat to face the backhoe, lower the stabilizer feet, and remove the transport locking pins.

Now, you’re ready to get started.

Step 2: Dig Three Sides of the Stump

Once you’re securely in position, use the tractor’s boom and bucket control levers to dig on three sides of the stump from a single position, and deposit the dugout material to the left and right. If the soil around your stump has a lot of clay in it, you can use a shovel to loosen and remove the clay that’s in and around some of the major roots to help free the stump. With larger stumps, you’ll want to cut through some of the larger, deeper roots with a chainsaw so the stump will come free more easily.

Step 3: Dig the Fourth Side of the Tree Stump

Move your tractor to the opposite side of the stump so the backhoe can finish digging it out. Once you’re in the new position, follow the instructions from Step 1 before proceeding:

  • Lower the loader and set the parking brake
  • Set the transmission into neutral and rotate the tractor seat into position
  • Lower the stabilizer feet and remove the transport locking pins.

Use the shovel and chainsaw as necessary to dig out the final side. As needed, you can try to jiggle the stump and see where it may still have roots that are buried and connected to the stump.

Step 4: Get It Out

Once the stump is moving freely, use a heavy-duty ratchet strap -- or a suitable chain -- and tighten it securely around the stump. Run the strap or chain under the freed stump, then up to and around the backhoe bucket. Using the backhoe’s 285-pound boom lift capacity, lift the stump out of the hole. Be sure to dispose of the stump according to local practice and regulations. For a 3-foot by 4-foot tree stump, it took our experts about 2.5 hours of work, so allow time to do the job properly.

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Don’t Forget About Safety!

When it comes to removing tree stumps for any type of tree, it’s important to put safety as your top priority. Wear heavy-duty gloves to protect your hands from cuts and splinters, and safety glasses or goggles to protect your eyes from debris. Additionally, be sure to engage your ROPs to ensure you are balanced and won’t have a tractor rollover. While tree stump removal may seem like a routine job around your home or large property in Michigan, it’s when work becomes commonplace that we see accidents occur. Remember: Safety is no accident!


For implements that help turn your tractor into the workhorse it was built to be, think John Deere and Tri County – your local Michigan equipment dealer!

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