9 Tree Stump Ideas to Elevate Your Yard

flowers in a flower pot, setting on a tree stump

It’s true that a tree stump – in its raw and unrefined look – does look ugly in any garden. If left standing in a prominent location, it can even negatively affect the aesthetics of your entire yard. While you always have the option to remove it, here are nine tree stump ideas to elevate your yard and gain functionality.

Aside from the fact that it’s hard to remove a tree stump because of its deep root system, doing so eliminates your chance to elevate your yard. Because let’s face it, not everyone has a tree stump to play with on their property.

What to Do With a Tree Stump?

A tree never runs out of purpose. When fully grown, a tree’s canopy can be used to create a shade garden, while its foliage livens up the yard – especially during spring and fall. But even after cutting it down, a tree can continue to benefit you. Here are nine creative ways to hide a tree stump and keep your tree a part of your home.

1. Hollow it Out Into a Planter

Planter made of tree stump
Photo Credit: Kristen Prahl / Canva Pro / License

Let’s start with a simple yet very natural-looking idea for a short tree stump — make a planter out of it. Like the rest of our recommendations, you can do this DIY project in a day or two on the weekends. But it will still depend on your gardening tools. If you’re going with the manual approach, you’ll need some effort to complete this undertaking.

Basically, you’ll need to hollow out a tree stump to place your favorite plant. Here’s how you do it in a nutshell:

  1. Chip away the center of the stump and work your way outward. For this step, you can use either an ax or a mattock. While a tree stump’s diameter varies, you’ll need to leave at least 3 inches of the border. Also, ensure that the hole is about 4 to 8 inches deep.
  2. You can use a chisel to smoothen out the edges. Remember that it doesn’t have to be a perfect circle since it’s more important for the hole to look natural.
  3. The next step is to drill a hole or two to drain out excess water. You can do this with an auger bit 1/2-inch wide or a bit brace. Remember to have it slope toward the ground.
  4. Add some pea gravel or any free-draining material, and top it off with planting soil. Finally, plant your favorite blooms or succulents on your new tree stump planter.

2. Create a Pot Stand

Do you find creating a planter too tedious or requiring too much time and effort? Well, here’s another idea for tree stumps that can help you achieve similar results without having to muscle it out.

You can place potted plants around and on top of the stump. The more variety of plants you put, such as cornflowers, marigolds, and even ferns, the more natural it would look. If you’re worried about your tree stump deteriorating, you can always apply varnish beforehand.

3. Build a Gnome’s Home

If your tree stump is too tall to become a flower bed or pot stand, you can convert it into something whimsical, like a gnome’s home. Not sure how to execute this landscaping idea with your tree stump? Here’s a quick tutorial:

  1. Construct a roof out of wood shims and use a scroll saw to add a playful design at the edges. Attach this miniature roof using heavy-duty screws at the top of the stump. You also can choose to apply paint to add more color.
  2. Using small pieces of plywood, you should be able to construct small windows that you can attach around the stump. Remember to seal these windows with an exterior varnish to protect them from scratches and abrasions.
  3. Adding a door usually follows the same process as the windows. You can paint this with vibrant or rustic colors. If you want to make it look more authentic, try using an old door knob.

Don’t forget that your creativity will make this simple project more unique and eye-catching.

4. Enchant with a Fairy House

fairy house made of stump
Photo Credit: Geograph

Here’s another creative tree stump idea if you find the garden gnome house too simple. Remember that time when a garden still felt like a magical place? Well, you can still play out that childhood fantasy by building a fairy house with your old tree stump. Not only will it delight the child in you, but it also will make your yard a place of awe for your kids.

You can make a fairy house as complex or as simple as you want. In fact, you can dress up your fairy house with wildflowers, colorful mushrooms, and a roof covered with moss to make the garden decor more beautiful. 

Pro tip: You can even turn your fairy house into a complete and enchanting fairy garden. A pathway made of pebbles makes a great addition to your garden. And if you want to make your little fairy house stand out at night, you can design a cozy landscape with lighting.

5. Transform it Into an Outdoor Board Game

Want to get your kids to enjoy the outdoors more with some fun yard games? Why not set up a board game on top of the tree stump? Not only will it help unglue them from their devices, but you’ll also help them develop sharper minds while they’re enjoying the fresh air outside.

If you have a large tree stump with a diameter big enough to accommodate the board game, you can simply etch and burn the game on top of the stump. A tic-tac-toe grid is easy to do, but if you want to make it interesting for anyone, regardless of age, you can use a checker or chess board instead.

In case you need a larger area, you can always use a bigger tabletop that you can nail on your tree stump.

6. Create a Play Area for Your Kids

kids playing on tree stump
Photo Credit: Leslie Science & Nature Center / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Sometimes an outdoor board game doesn’t seem enough. It could either be too simplistic or too ordinary to catch your children’s attention. What you can do is have the tree stump undergo a major makeover. This project is best suited for those who haven’t chopped down their tree yet, having the option to leave a bigger part of the tree trunk. 

The stump can serve as:

  • The base for a slide or for that treehouse idea you may want to materialize. 
  • A climbing wall for your little ones – just don’t forget to attach a safety fence.
  • A tree stump path: You also can make smaller stumps out of the remaining tree trunk and arrange them on the ground to create a path. 

Kids will have tons of enjoyment and will get to improve their motor skills at the same time. While you can always buy molded plastic playgrounds, this approach makes it more natural. You’d be surprised how a play area with a tree stump as its centerpiece can grab kids’ attention better than the all-too-common plastic playgrounds.

7. Sculpt it Into a Relaxing Bird Bath

A tree can continue to help support your yard’s ecosystem even beyond its lifetime – particularly the birds. Another idea for old tree stumps is to carve a bird bath where you can go crazy with your sculpting skills. Or, just hollow it out enough to contain water. If you find this too tedious, you can opt to make the old stump act as a pedestal for a ready-made basin or bowl.

Aside from a bird bath or bird feeder, you can choose to construct a small birdhouse on top of the stump. This way, it can offer shelter not only to your feathered friends but also to other small wildlife in the yard.

8. Turn it Into a Table

two side by side pictures of tree stump tables
Photo Credit: Geneva Vanderzeil apairandasparediy.com / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

When you create an outdoor stump garden table, you’re repurposing not only the stump itself but also the area where it’s left standing. What used to provide shelter for shade garden plants now becomes a place to rest and unwind. And you don’t even need to do a lot of woodworking to get that rustic look because it already comes naturally.

All you need to do is smoothen the top with sandpaper, apply stain, and let it dry. Then finally, apply two to three coats of polyurethane sealant all over the top and sides. Now you have a beautiful tree stump table to add to your garden furniture

To level up your home decor, you also can transform the tree stump into a side table for your bedroom or a coffee table for your living room.

9. Transform it Into a DIY Garden Chair

If you feel that the stump is not large enough for a table, you can carve a wooden chair out of it. Anyone who loves doing DIY projects can spend some time on this undertaking and create a rustic stool out of the stump. If there’s more room, you can even add armrests.

Of course, a tree stump chair deserves its own landscaping, so be prepared to add some native plants around it. With the focal point already in place, the garden design and other landscaping ideas you’ll need to add to beautify the area will come naturally.

FAQ About Things You Can Do With a Tree Stump

How Long Do Tree Stumps Last?

The actual time that a tree stump lasts before it naturally decays depends on several factors, such as environment, location, and type of tree. In general, it can last between three to seven years before it decays. Keep in mind that shorter stumps tend to rot more quickly than larger ones.

How Do You Preserve a Wood Stump?

The proven way to preserve a wood stump is by applying several coats of sealant along its surface. After waiting a few days for the sealant to dry, it is now preserved and ready for repurposing.

Can a Tree Stump Grow Back?

Yes, it can grow back. While the root system is no longer functioning, sprouts can still get enough leftover nutrients from the roots, causing them to poke out of the ground. If you leave these sprouts alone, they can eventually grow into a tree, assuming conditions for growth are present.

Hire a Pro and Repurpose Your Tree Stump

A tree stump removal can cost up to $516 as the root system can extend deeper and farther out. However, leaving it on its own is also not a good idea. These creative ways of converting a stump into something more functional can turn what was once an eyesore into an eye-catching piece of yard art. 

Whether you need help executing your ideas for the tree stump in your yard or just want to have it removed entirely, you should take the next step. Connect with local tree experts today and make your yard beautiful again.

Main Image Credit: PublicDomainPictures

Melanie Joseph

Melanie Joseph

After discovering her passion for writing through her beauty blog, Melanie left her engineering job in California, became a writer, and never once looked back. When she isn't writing, she loves dipping in the pool, tending to the garden, or doing simple home improvement projects.