Answers to Your Questions about Tree Stump Grinding

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Close-up of a stump grinder grinding out a tree stump on a residential property.

If you’ve had to cut down or remove any trees from your property, you’re often left with a stump where the tree once stood. One of the best ways to remove that stump is by using a stump grinder.

However, not everyone is familiar with stump grinding or how the process works.

In this article, we’ve answered many of your questions about stump grinding, why you might want to remove a stump after tree removal, and more.

Why should I have a stump removed?

The stump might not bother you, but it does start to affect the appearance of your yard. Stumps will naturally stick around for at least 15 to 20 years, so don’t expect them to naturally disintegrate anytime soon.

The stump might send up new shoots, trying to regrow itself. If the tree was cut down due to disease or pest issues, the stump can still spread those issues onto other things in your yard. Stumps tend to attract ants, termites, mold, and fungi.

Plus, it can be a pain to mow around a stump and the above-ground roots and can damage your lawnmower and other equipment.

A tree stump with sprouts emerging near the trunk.

How can I get rid of a tree stump?

There are two options for stump removal – taking the entire stump out or using a stump grinder.

Removing the Entire Stump

Removing the entire stump costs a lot more than stump grinding (usually about ten times more), is a difficult process, and can leave giant holes in your yard. Since you’d have to grab the stump and pull it out of the ground, the roots come with it, and they can be up to 40 feet long in some cases. Roots go wherever the water is, so sometimes they are wrapped around pipes or under sidewalks or foundations, so when you pull out the stump, you’re never quite sure what the roots will take with them!

Grinding Out the Stump

A stump grinder, on the other hand, removes a stump without pulling up all the roots in your yard. The stump grinder has a vertical saw that the operator moves slowly back and forth, turning the stump into fine woodchips or sawdust. This sawdust can then be used to fill up the hole that is left, making it easy for you to place dirt and grass seed or sod over the location.

The stump grinder used by the Hill Treekeepers team.

What is a stump grinder?

A stump grinder is a piece of heavy equipment with a spinning carbide-tipped steel wheel on the front (similar to an extra-large circular saw blade). We lower the wheel onto the edge of the stump and move it from side to side as it spins, grinding deeper into the stump with each movement. Eventually, the whole tree stump is ground up into small wood chips, including the main roots below the stump.

Why would I choose to grind a tree stump out?

Most people choose to grind a tree stump after a tree removal as the stump is an eyesore because it is a tripping or safety hazard or because they want to plant something else in that area.

If you’ve removed a diseased or pest-ridden tree, grinding a stump can help ensure that the disease or pests do not spread. Stump removal also prevents the tree from growing back.

Can’t I just rent a stump grinder and do it myself?

You could, and that may be an option. However, a stump grinder is a dangerous piece of powerful equipment and should not be used by anyone who is not familiar with that kind of machinery. In most states, you must contact the local utility company several days before to ensure that no power or phone lines are near the stump. If you hit a rock with the stump grinding blade, you may be responsible for replacing the blade, and they don’t come cheap.

Stump grinders available for rent are not professional grade and will only reach a few inches into the ground, leaving most of the roots untouched. They also have a lot of hidden costs for fuel usage and extra teeth and are incredibly dangerous if you do not know how to handle them or if you do not take the proper safety precautions. For instance, if you hit a rock in the soil, it can easily become a projectile.

Overall, we highly recommend using a professional to grind a tree stump. Here at Hill Treekeepers, we have a professional-grade stump grinder that is large enough to remove large stumps but small enough to fit through tight spots in your yard.

Stump grinding is messy, noisy, and dangerous. We have years of experience operating stump grinders and know the right safety equipment to wear, what precautions to take, and how to remove your stump without ruining your landscape. We also have worker’s compensation and the proper insurance to cover any incidentals.

A stump grinder leaves a hole in the ground after a tree stump is ground out.

Does the stump grinder make a lot of noise and/or mess?

Yes, grinding a tree stump is a noisy and messy process. It is a very loud machine that is literally grinding up a very hard piece of wood. The woodchips and sawdust that it creates can fly in all directions.

How long will the stump grinding process take?

For one tree stump, the process can take anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours. It depends on the location of the stump, the size of the stump, the health of the tree that was removed, and more.

Will stump grinding remove the tree roots?

Stump grinding only removes some of the tree’s roots. We grind the stump about 6 to 8 inches below ground level. However, roots are quite extensive and spread both outward and down from the stump; it’s likely that there will still be many roots underground. This is one of the reasons why you generally can’t replant a tree in the exact spot where a tree used to stand.

An old tree stump is silhouetted in the evening light in New York.

What happens to the wood from the tree stump after it is ground?

Stump grinding results in lots of chips of wood. More of them are created than you might think, but they can be used as mulch on-site or added to your green waste can.

There will also be a hole in the ground where the stump was since the stump volume that filled it has just been ground out. You can shovel the wood chips into the hole to decay, or you can import soil and fill the hole so that it’s even with the surrounding ground.

Will you add grass seed to the area where the stump was ground?

As an additional service, we can fill the hole with screened topsoil and cover it with grass seed and straw mulch. Pretty soon, it’ll look like nothing ever happened.

What should I do if I want to grind a tree stump?

Contact Hill Treekeers to schedule an evaluation. We can give you an estimate of how much stump grinding will cost. You may be surprised at how affordable it is!

We can also provide an estimate for stump grinding when we provide an estimate for tree removal.

Learn more about stump grinding on the Hill Treekeepers website >>

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Todd Hill

Todd is the founder of Hill Treekeepers and an ISA Certified Arborist with life-long ties to the Hudson Valley area.

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