Unless a tree was some sort of a record setter, there never seemed to be much value in retaining its stump. Not only was a bare stump a sad reminder of a once useful tree, it often served as a property eyesore and safety hazard. And while it's certainly possible to excavate or grind up stumps, such a task should be left to professionals to avoid landscaping disasters. Aside from the expense of doing this, even the pros sometimes wade into problems when trying to remove stumps. Because of this, some foresters now recommend leaving stumps in place. But again, who wants to look at a decaying old stump?
The Second Life Of Stumps
Fortunately, there's another alternative to plain stumps or the possible logistical and landscaping nightmare of removing them. Stumps transformed into natural planters are becoming an increasingly important part of upscale landscaping projects. There are a couple of advantages to converting stumps to this use. A property owner is spared the expense of stump grinding or removal. Using the stump as a planter will accelerate its natural decay. And that decay is a great source of natural nutrition for these new mini gardens. Stump planters are easily created too, with the proper tools. Hollow out stump planters by chipping away at the stump's top with an ax or mattock. Leave a two to three inch perimeter around the stump. Stump planters last longer if drainage holes are drilled around the bottom of the stump, and the bottom of the hollowed out stump is lined with gravel.
Plants resistant to drought generally do better in these planters. Bulb plants which need little care are also great choices. Tulips and daffodils are bulb plants which do well and look great in stump planters.
If you don't plan to have these planters for long, consider annual plants. Impatiens are a good example of a good looking, short term stump plant. And if it's a partially shaded stump, try the annual known as Sweet William.
Finally, some property owners want to disguise old stumps with leafy foliage. This is an especially good idea for shadier areas. Hostas with their elegant striped leaves and various fern species make great flowering plant alternatives here.