How to Hollow Out a Tree Stump: A Step-by-Step Guide

how to hollow out a tree stump

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Tree stumps, often seen as remnants of felled trees, can be transformed into unique and functional garden features through a simple yet creative process – hollowing them out. 

This comprehensive guide will explore the compelling reasons to undertake this project and provide a step-by-step roadmap. 

From safety precautions to imaginative uses, we’ll unlock the potential of tree stumps in enhancing your outdoor space.

Why Hollow Out a Tree Stump?

Hollowing out a tree stump offers several benefits that can enhance your garden’s functionality and appearance.

Planting Options

Hollowed tree stumps can serve as unique and charming planters. They provide a raised planting bed with built-in drainage, making them ideal for growing various plants like flowers, herbs, or succulents. The decaying wood inside the stump can also act as a natural compost, enriching the soil and promoting plant growth.

Aesthetic Appeal

A hollowed-out stump can add a touch of rustic beauty to your garden. It becomes a focal point, creating visual interest and serving as a natural piece of garden art. Whether left as a natural-looking planter or creatively adorned with decorative elements, a hollowed stump can contribute to the overall charm of your outdoor space. 

Preparations Before You Begin

Hollowing out a stump is a challenging but rewarding project. Before you start, it’s crucial to take some preparatory steps to ensure safety and efficiency.

Safety Precautions

Ensure you have the following safety gear.

  • Safety goggles: Protect your eyes from flying wood chips and debris.
  • Hearing protection: Chainsaws can be loud, so wear ear protection.
  • Gloves: Protect your hands from splinters and blisters.
  • Dust mask: Prevent inhaling wood dust and debris.
  • Steel-toed boots: Guard your feet against potential hazards.

Inspect the stump and the area around it for any potential hazards. Remove rocks, loose debris, or any objects that could interfere with your work. Ensure there are no people or pets nearby. Maintain a safe distance from bystanders and structures.

Necessary Tools

To hollow out a stump effectively, you’ll need the right tools

  1. Chainsaw: A chainsaw is the primary tool for cutting and removing the wood from the stump. Ensure it has a sharp chain.
  2. Auger or Drill: You’ll need an auger or drill with an appropriate wood-boring bit to create holes or channels within the stump.
  3. Chisel and Hammer: These tools can help remove wood in smaller, more controlled areas or smooth rough surfaces.
  4. Pry Bar or Crowbar: These can be handy for prying out wood sections as you hollow the stump.

Step-by-Step Guide to Hollowing Out a Stump

Hollowing out a stump is a DIY project that can turn an old tree stump into a unique garden feature or planter. Follow this step-by-step guide for a successful transformation.

Measure and Mark the Area

Measure the dimensions of the unsightly stump and decide how deep and wide you want the hollowed area to be. Mark the boundaries of the hollowed area using a measuring tape, pencil, and a level to ensure accuracy.

Cutting and Drilling

Use a chainsaw to cut along the marked lines, creating an outline for the hollowed area. Make several cuts around the perimeter. Drill multiple holes within the outlined area, leaving some space between them. These holes will provide an entry point for the chisels and other tools.

Chiseling and Scooping

Insert a wood chisel into one of the holes you drilled and start chiseling away the wood. Work methodically, removing small sections at a time.

Use a mallet or hammer to tap the chisel and advance deeper into the stump gently. Once you’ve chiseled sufficiently, switch to a scoop or gouge tool to remove the wood chips and create a hollowed cavity.

Continue this process, periodically removing wood debris from the stump’s interior.

Smoothening the Surface

Use finer chisels and sandpaper to smoothen the interior surface of the hollowed area. This will give it a polished and refined appearance.

Ensure the walls of the hollowed stump are even and free from rough edges. Remove any remaining wood shavings or dust from the interior.

Consider applying a wood sealer or preservative to protect the newly exposed wood and extend the life of your hollowed stump.

Creative Uses for a Hollowed-Out Stump

Don’t let that old tree stump go to waste! There are plenty of creative and practical ways to repurpose a hollowed-out stump. Here are some imaginative ideas:


Transform it into a Planter

  • Flower Pot Stump: Hollow out the stump’s center and fill it with potting soil. Plant colorful flowers or a mix of herbs for a charming and fragrant garden addition.
  • Mini Garden: Create a mini garden by combining various plants of different heights and colors. Succulents, ferns, or ground covers work well for this purpose.
  • Cascading Plants: For a whimsical touch, let trailing plants spill over the sides of the stump, creating a cascading effect. Ivy, petunias, or nasturtiums can be great choices.


Turn it into Outdoor Furniture

  • Stump Table: A great tree stump idea is to sand the top surface of the stump smooth and add a coat of weatherproof finish. This can serve as a rustic outdoor coffee table or side table.
  • Stump Stool: Smaller stumps can be transformed into stools by attaching a cushioned seat to the top. They make unique, natural seating options for your garden or patio.
  • Stump Bench: If you have multiple stumps, arrange them in a row and secure a wooden plank across the tops to create a charming rustic bench.
  • Garden Chair: Hollow out a larger stump and add a fitted seat cushion for a comfortable garden chair. Place it beneath a shade tree for a cozy reading nook.
  • Table Set: Combine several stumps of varying heights to create a natural outdoor table set. Use one stump as a table and the others as stools or chairs.


Hollowing out a tree stump offers many benefits, from enhancing your garden’s beauty to providing functional features. 

By following our step-by-step guide and taking necessary safety precautions, you can confidently embark on this creative project. Transforming old stumps into planters or furniture pieces will breathe new life into your outdoor space and showcase your ingenuity. 

So, seize the opportunity and unlock the potential of those tree stumps in your garden while enjoying the journey of crafting something uniquely yours. Happy hollowing!

Author: Eleanor

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