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Garden Centerpieces

Removing an old tree stump can be costly, averaging a hundred dollars if you do it yourself  (using a rented stump grinder) and more if you hire a professional to remove it. But the landscaping opportunities a tree stump brings can eliminate the need to dispose of it altogether.

Though I don’t recommend chopping down a healthy tree for the sake of ornamental purposes, an existing stump makes a great host to a variety of plants.  Tree stumps can also serve as natural seating or tables.

To create a nook for flowers and other plants, make sure you have handy a pickaxe, mattock, or drill. Choose the tool you are most comfortable with. Whichever you choose, be sure to sport a pair of safety glasses before you begin. If using the mattock, start hollowing by chipping away at the center of your tree stump. As the hole gets deeper, switch to the wide side of the mattock to carve the hole out and shape it to your liking. Be sure to leave a border of at least three inches between the hole and the edges of the stump. This is essential for holes four to eight inches in depth. You may also sand the inside of the hole to smoothen it out. Once you’re finished hollowing the stump, take a drill or bit brace and drill drainage holes from the newly hollowed space through the sides of the stump. Angle the drainage holes towards the ground to ensure any passing water slides through the holes and down the sides of the stump. To further prevent water retention, fill the bottom of the main ‘hollow’ with gravel or pebbles. This will aid drainage and keep plants from sitting in water.

You can hollow your hole in a similar fashion using a pickaxe. Drilling works well if you wish for your hole to be located away from the stump’s center. You may want to outline the designated spot using a pencil or non-toxic paint.

Once you’ve successfully hollowed your stump you need only to fill it with soil and the plants of your choice. For best results, fill with a mixture of 30 percent compost and 70 percent planting soil. Depending on the size of the hole, your stump could provide dual functions as both a planter and a table.

Whether you arrange an assortment of flowers that sprout up from the stump or plant a bundle of ivy cascading down the sides, you’ll have created a whimsical centerpiece for your garden. Plus it can serve as a gathering place to visitors.


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