Do you have some leftover tree stumps that you’d like to make more useful? In this post, I’ll show you how to make some fun tree stump stepping stones for your kids to play on.
If you’re thinking about creating a natural area for your kids, you probably already know one of the best additions to any natural playground is stepping stones made from tree stumps.
Not only are they attractive, but they’re also fun to use.
When we were creating our natural playground, we had a bunch of tree stumps from our yard that I knew I wanted to use.
My mom-brain was tired and I didn’t really want to think much about how to build the steps so that 1) they would last a long time and 2) they would be stable and sturdy for my toddler to walk on.
I could find tons of examples of tree stump stepping stones, but I couldn’t find anyone sharing how to actually make them.
Of course, we figured it out, but it took a little bit more brain power than I was initially hoping to use.
That’s why I decided to make this simple how to post. I’ll share exactly how we made our steppers in hopes of helping you make some as well.
Here’s how to make those popular tree stump stepping stones yourself.
How To Make Tree Stump Stepping Stones
1) Gather Your Stumps
When choosing tree stumps for your stepping stones, it’s important to select ones that are of varying heights and widths.
This will add visual interest to your finished project.
You should also keep in mind that you’ll need to bury about half of the stump in the ground, so be sure to select ones that are long enough to achieve the desired height.
In our natural playground, all of our stepping stumps are approximately 1-1.5 feet high off the ground, some even shorter, which is perfect for young kids who are just learning to balance.
We obtained our stumps from a couple of cut-up tree trunks from our own yard, but if you don’t have any laying around like that, try asking your neighbors if they recently removed a tree or your local lawn care companies.
You never know who may be looking to get rid of something like that.
2) Remove The Bark
Once you have all of your stumps picked out, it’s time to remove the bark.
This is the most time-consuming and physical step. You’ll definitely get a workout on this one.
Removing the bark will give your stumps a more finished look and help to avoid rot since the wood can dry out faster.
You do not need to remove the bark, but the bark will hold in moisture and your stumps may rot faster than if you had peeled it off.
We used a manual debarking tool like this one from Amazon, to peel all of the bark off of our stumps. It took a couple of days for us to complete all of them.
I’ve seen some debarking tools that attach to chain saws which I’m intrigued by as it might make this task a little less cumbersome, but I’ve never used one of those so I do not know how well they work or how safe they are.
3) Arrange Your Stumps
Once you have your tree stump stepping stones all debarked and ready to go, it’s time to get creative and arrange them into a layout you like.
This is a great opportunity to be playful and experiment with different arrangements until you find one that you’re happy with.
Look at it from different angles and different spots in the yard to be sure you like how it looks.
Remember, toddlers have little legs, so try to keep the stones relatively close together to make it easy for them to move around.
Have fun with this project, and enjoy creating a unique space for your little ones to explore.
4) Dig The Holes
Now that you’ve found the perfect arrangement for your tree stumps, it’s time to start digging.
Remember to contact your local utility companies before you begin any digging, to ensure that there aren’t any critical electric or gas lines in the way. Many states have a hotline you can call to contact all of the utilies at once.
A regular yard shovel should do the trick for digging – just be sure to move one or two stumps at a time so you don’t lose your original arrangement.
Dig your holes deep enough so about half of the stump gets buried under ground.
It’s a workout but with a little bit of elbow grease, you’ll have those holes dug in no time.
5) Secure Stumps in Holes
After you have your hole dug, simply place the stump for that spot into the hole.
Then just fill in around the edges of the stump tightly with dirt.
This is the method we followed for our tree stump stepping stones and they’re very sturdy. None of the stumps wobble or move when walked on.
These stepping stones are a fun way to get outside and enjoy nature. If you want more ideas for natural playgrounds, be sure to check out my post here with more natural playground ideas. Have fun making your own tree stump stepping stones!