27 Tree Stump Grinding FAQs: Should You Use A Stump Grinder Or Not?

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When it comes to removing a tree stump from your yard by using a stump grinder, there are a lot of questions that many people have.

Whether you’re a beginner or looking to add more knowledge to your stump grinding repertoire, here are some of the most asked questions about stump grinding on the internet. If you want to know about tree stump grinding, then this is the FAQ guide for you.

What is a stump grinder?

tree stump removal

A stump or root grinder is a machine that grinds away at exposed wood using rotating blades. Many tree grinding machines look like a chainsaw crossed with a lawnmower for personal machines, or a bulldozer for professional machines.

Check out our round-up of tree stump grinder reviews to see some examples of good residential use models.

What does a stump grinder do?

When it comes to stump grinding, you slowly remove exposed pieces of tree and the upper layer of the roots by using a rotating blade, much like a specialized saw, cutting the wood into small pieces. It acts as a mobile wood chipper without needing to move the wood you’re turning into mulch.

You can also use it for grinding tree roots, whether they’re on the surface or a foot below ground. Most tree roots are within the first 16 inches of soil, and many heavy-duty root grinders can get to them without too much issue.

Can I leave a tree stump in the ground?

You can, yes, but it doesn’t look very pretty and can detract from the value of your home. Also, the grass won’t grow over a tree stump, and as it decays, you might even get fungus and mushrooms growing out of it, which doesn’t look pretty either.

If there’s enough stump left over, you might even find that it starts growing new foliage, which means your tree trunk won’t decompose as it should since it’s still living. Unfortunately, a rotting tree stump can also attract pests who want to live and feed on the decomposing wood-like ants or termites.

How long will it take a tree stump to rot if left alone?

tree removal and stump grinding

Depending on the tree stump size depends on how long it will take to rot and decompose.

If your tree trunk is big enough that you need a tree grinder to remove it, then it will take years for it to rot completely, and that’s if it doesn’t manage to grow new foliage.

To determine how long a tree stump will take to decompose, you need to consider factors such as climate, location, the environment, and even how much of the tree stump is sticking out of the ground. The minimum time it takes for a tree stump to rot is about three years, but it can take up to 20 in some cases.

Fungus/mushrooms are growing from my tree stump. Does that make it dangerous to grind a tree stump?

Not at all. This is part of the decomposition process and may make the tree stump grinding process easier since the wood is softer. If you have honey fungus, it’s best to remove the wood chips and sawdust for the area as that can cause issues with other plants.

As in the image above, stumps can be made into a nice feature in your garden as well. Have someone with a small chainsaw carve out a seat or other feature in the wood.

Pros and cons of grinding out a tree stump?

The grind-out tree stump process takes time to set up, and before you do that, you need to look at the pros and cons of grinding out a tree stump.

Pros:

  • Quick and efficient when done right and only leaves wood chips and sawdust behind
  • Eco-friendly without disease or harmful chemicals taking root in your yard
  • Improve aesthetics of your yard quickly by giving you a clean slate
  • No worries that your tree stump will sprout new foliage
  • Grinding tree roots to prevent the tree from trying to grow back

Cons:

  • Messy and loud while working on the stump with the possibility of damaging your lawn if not done properly
  • It costs quite a bit no matter if you hire someone or try to grind the stump yourself

Can you grind a stump yourself?

how to remove tree stump

Yes, you can grind a stump yourself with either rented or bought tree grinding machines. However, there are plenty of precautions to take when doing it yourself, so make sure you handle the root grinder with care.

If you have just a couple of smaller stumps, then doing it yourself will save you some money while allowing you to get out in the sun. However, if you have more or larger stumps that need removal, you should let the pros handle it.

Are stump grinders dangerous?

Stump grinders are big machines similar in size to a lawnmower with a rotating blade at the end. As long as you know how to control the machine and wear the proper protective equipment like safety glasses, ear protection, and work boots, then you should be good to go.

Are stump grinders easy to operate?

Surprisingly, yes, a stump grinder is very easy to operate – as you can see in this video from Home Depot.

In fact, the most challenging thing you need to do with stump grinding is preparing the area. Make sure there are no pets and kids around. Also, ensure you’ve gone ahead with a shovel and gotten rid of any rocks that might cause issues to your stump grinder.

After you get that done, check the height of your stump. It should be as close to the ground as possible, at most six inches. After that, it’s all about patience as you lift and lower this spinning blade before swinging it side to side to get rid of your tree stump.

Is it better to grind a stump or remove it?

Grinding a stump is typically the better option than removing it.

This is because stump removal requires very heavy machinery to pull the entire stump out, which can wreck landscape and infrastructure. Stump removal also leaves an unsightly hole that you’ll need to fill in before you can plant anything else there.

Stump removal:

  • Requires heavy machinery with high power requirements
  • It leaves a giant hole in your yard
  • Can ruin landscaping
  • Removes the stump and roots entirely, so no regrowth is possible
  • Replanting is quick and easy once the hole gets filled in

Stump grinding:

  • Less labor-intensive
  • Faster to grind the stump than to remove it
  • Stump can be used for mulching and to fill in the hole
  • Foliage might continue to sprout
  • Root decay may cause disease

What are stump grinding services?

tree stump grinder guide

Stump grinding services are professional companies that will come out and grind your stumps for you.

Some typical stump grinding services include filling in the hole from the stump with the mulch or removing the excess debris altogether. Also, a stump grinding service would be how deep you want the tree stump to be ground, whether that’s an inch below the ground or afoot.

What is the average cost for stump grinding?

The average cost for stump grinding is typical about $5 per inch of diameter.

Can you grind a stump with a chainsaw?

No! Do not try to grind your stump with a chainsaw – whether you have a homeowner chainsaw or a pro chainsaw, it should never be done.

Not only is there a greater risk of injury to yourself, but you can ruin the chainsaw or snap the chain, which makes it another hazard to avoid. In addition, chainsaws don’t have the proper guards to prevent wood chunks from flying at you or any other debris it picks up.

What happens when infrastructure is in the way?

Grinding a stump can be scary when it comes to your house, garage, or the sidewalk being in the way.

This is the time to call in the professionals because experience matters here. Most tree stumps can still be ground even when next to permanent infrastructure, just maybe not as deep as you’d prefer.

How deep do you need to grind a stump?

how does a stump grinder work

It depends on your preference.

Some people out there only want the bare minimum and only go an inch into the ground. Others want to make sure it doesn’t come back and go as deep as 16 inches into the ground.

If you use a service, check and see what their maximum depth is and what they recommend.

How long does it take to grind a stump?

Depending on the size and depth of stump grinding needed, it can take 15 minutes up to six hours.

If you are hiring by the hour, check with a professional tree grinding company about estimated times. However, it’s better to get a price for the completed job.

If you’re doing the work yourself, the time really depends on the machine you’re using. Dr Stump Grinder models are much slower than commercial units, for example.

Are there stumps that cannot be ground?

Yes, there are situations where stumps cannot be ground or removed without difficulty.

For example, very limited access tree stumps can be impossible to grind because equipment can’t reach them. Or those lovely city trees inside concrete planters or sidewalks can’t get ground without severe damage to the infrastructure.

Most tree stumps can get ground out, so as long as the equipment can get to it and it isn’t right next to your favorite hibiscus bush, you should be good to go.

What happens after the stump is ground?

Once your stump gets ground, the wood chips and dirt that has come up get pushed back into the hole. Depending on the size of the stump, you may have wood chips leftover.

Then put a layer of topsoil on it until it’s just above where the natural ground line is, so when the wood chips break down more, you don’t get left with a dip in your yard. After that, go ahead and seed the ground for the grass or resold and continue with life.

Growing grass after stump removal does involve a few extra steps compared to growing grass on regular soil.

What do you do with the extra woodchips?

Extra woodchips are fantastic to use as mulch in flower beds or vegetable patches, similar to how you can use sawdust.

If you don’t want the additional wood chips, talk to your contractor about removing them instead. If you did it yourself, see if the neighbors need any mulch for their gardens.

Will stump grindings attract termites?

It can feel like you’re inviting those pesky insects into your home, but stump grindings and excess woodchips don’t attract termites.

However, a rotting stump left in your yard definitely can attract those pests and from your yard into your home.

Is it worth it to buy a stump grinder?

If you know you’re going to have many stumps that need grinding, then yes, buying a stump grinder is worth it. However, if you have one tree a decade that needs stump grinding, it’s better to rent a stump or root grinder for a short period.

Renting also allows you a chance to see if a stump grinder is something you want to purchase down the line. Weigh the price tag of a stump grinder because it can be expensive against the value you’ll get out of it.

Some options, such as the Power King Stump Grinder, can be purchased relatively cheaply.

How do you get rid of a tree stump without a grinder?

tree stump service

There are three main methods of removing a tree stump without a grinder or any other heavy equipment.

The hard way is to dig it up by hand and saw through the roots to remove the tree stump, root ball, and taproot. This method is preferable for smaller trees, so you don’t have to spend weeks trying to dig it out.

You can also use chemicals to force the tree to decompose faster. This takes time and dedication for very large tree stumps, but it does work.

The third option is to set the stump on fire after using a stump killer product on it. Burning a stump is very quick, but you must use precautions not to set anything else on fire.

Alternatively, if you leave enough of a stump behind a strong enough excavator can be used to pull it out of the ground.

What are the best alternatives for getting rid of a stump?

The best alternative to stump grinding for getting rid of a stump has to be the chemical route.

Yes, it takes time to drill into the tree and add chemicals to force the decomposition of the stump, but you’re not going to set your house on fire accidentally. You also won’t be out there trying to dig up a stump six months after you started either.

Is stump grinding a profitable business?

Yes. While owning your own tree removal business can feel challenging, stump grinding can be profitable with the right tools and the correct pricing.

For frequent use, you would need to consider buying a commercial or professional stump grinder.

Why are stump grinders so expensive?

grinding roots of trees

Stump grinders have a high price tag because they’re a specialized piece of heavy machinery.

They come in many forms, from handhelds to riding tree grinders, and each of them comes with its own maintenance needs and special handling.

Can I pave over an area where a stump was ground out?

You can, but be aware that as the wood chips and leftover roots decompose, the ground will sink, causing issues with any permanent infrastructure above it.

Can I plant a new tree where the old stump used to be?

You can certainly plant a new tree near where the old one used to be, but don’t put it directly on top since there are still tree roots under there. Instead, a good rule of thumb is to plant it at least three feet away from where the stump used to be so the tree has the best chance of growing.

Stump Grinding

Using a stump grinder to grind out tree stumps is a great way to give back to the soil, keep your lawn looking great, and won’t harm your pets or kids.

Now that you know what stump grinding is all about, go out there and make your yard look the way it should with no stumps. And, hopefully, you got lots of fuel for your wood stove or fire pit from the tree!

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