Well, herein lies a question with unlimited answers. Think of this article as more of an indicative thought piece rather than a textbook. The truth is, putting an exact timeframe on how long it takes for a stump to rot away in Melbourne is virtually impossible. Many different factors contribute to how fast or slow a tree stump breaks down, let alone how big or small the stump is. Of course, a stump the size of a tennis ball will break down faster than a stump the size of a Mini Cooper? Well in theory, yes but this may not always be the case.
Another thing to consider is when we say “Rot Away” or “Rot Down”, what exact result are we looking for? It’s one thing for a stump to dry out and turn grey but for it to completely break down and turn into soil may be a whole different ball game. In a day and age where we have most things at the click of a button, are any of us prepared to wait patiently for a stump to decompose? If you live in Melbourne and are looking for some help with a stump removal then please feel free to reach out on our contact us page.
Below we will go through some points for consideration when wondering how long tree stumps take to rot away.
We have all heard the terms “Hardwood” and “Softwood”. Whoever coined these terms is right in some ways however anyone who has come up against a tree removal will tell you otherwise. Apart from the odd exception, wood of any kind is hard to cut (without professional equipment). If it is strong enough to frame houses, then surely it’s not as soft as it sounds.
Here’s some food for thought. Walnut is classed as a hardwood but if you have ever cut a piece of living Walnut you will know that it is incredibly soft. It may be one of the softest. It cuts like butter with a sharp hand or chain saw. But here’s the catch, when walnut dries, it dries incredibly hard. Walnut is used in Jaguar car interiors not just for its strength but for its incredible pattern. But what has this got to do with tree stumps and rotting away? Well depending on which species of tree the stump once was, is how the wood dries or rots away. Not all wood is the same. Anyone who has ever tried to season or dry Poplar firewood will tell you that in some cases it will turn mouldy and rot before it can be dried out enough to burn. Generally, any wood that we use in day to day construction such as Pine or Oak is going to take a long time to rot away, if at all.
Location, Location, Location! The environment that your stump is situated in will be one of the most important factors to its decomposition. If the stump is out in the open or the middle of a lawn, it may take longer than say if the stump is surrounded by organic matter. If you live in a particularly windy or rainy part of Melbourne then this may help to erode the stump quicker too. If your stump is sheltered by other plants or trees then it may stay preserved for longer. Another situation where a stump may take longer to break down is if you live near the coast. The salt in the air can act as a preserve. Think about driftwood, driftwood can spend years and years in the ocean and stay almost intact after taking on the saltwater.
By covering a stump in soil, it can certainly help speed up the process of the stump rotting away. In a rural location, this can be more of an option. Although Australia is known for being dry, the moisture and heat in the soil can create the perfect environment for bacteria to attack a stump. In a small garden where space is a commodity, stump removal will be a lot quicker and more effective.
Remember, just because a tree has been cut down, it does not mean it is necessarily dead. Tree stumps can have built up energy that can sprout leaves. This then means the stump can carry out the full photosynthesis cycle and become a poorly structured new tree. There are several products available to the public for killing stumps, the main one being Glyphosate. Don’t let this fool you. Yes, it will certainly kill the stump if enough product is applied however it will not make it magically disappear overnight. Some products boast that it will help speed up the decomposition process but you shouldn’t always trust this. If you are looking for the quickest, easiest method then stump grinding is the best option.
The environmental factors and the species of tree will ultimately decide how long a stump takes to rot down in the Melbourne area. Yes, you can give it a helping hand by poisoning it and covering it in organic matter but the wait will still be long. The size of the stump will also play a big part. Making an educated guess, a Poplar tree stump the size of a dinner plate would take roughly 5 to ten years to break or rot down naturally into the soil. The same size Oak stump may take double this time or more. Hence why Oak beams are still kicking around in 500-year-old buildings.