Homeowners have used many methods over the years to remove tree stumps after a tree removal. Stumps have been pulled out, dug out, burned out, or have poured various chemicals on stumps to accelerate the decay of the stump. Although there are a number of ways to remove stumps, using a stump grinder is the fastest way to remove a tree stump. A stump grinder is a specialized piece of tree care equipment that is designed specifically to grind tree stumps and grind tree roots. The stump grinder has a metal wheel with cutting teeth bolted to the wheel. The arborist grinds the tree stump by using the cutting teeth to chip away the tree stump. The wheel is passed back and forth, lowering it with each successive pass, to gradually grind tree stumps into chips.
For many years it was thought that stump grinding was an optional tree care service that wasn’t necessary if the stump was in a remote location in the landscape. However, current research indicates that grinding out tree stumps can reduce the chance of other trees in your landscape from becoming infected with tree decay fungi. Stumps that remain after a tree removal can become infected with wood decay fungi. Over time these fungi will develop spores and fungal hyphae that will grow out into the soil. If a healthy tree is wounded in the future the decay fungi will have the opportunity to infect the wound.
The depth to which a stump grinder machine can grind a stump varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. The depth to which stump grinding is done depends on what is going to happen after the tree stump is removed. If the tree stump area is going to be replanted with grass then grinding a tree stump to a depth of 4 - 6” is probably sufficient. This will allow enough soil depth for grass roots to grow. If another tree is going to be planted then the arborist can grind a deeper and wider hole to allow for space for the root ball of the new tree. If there are numerous surface roots, the stump grinder can grind out the tree roots, too. Woodchips and soil that remain after the stump grinding is completed should be removed and replaced with topsoil before replanting.
The size of the tree stump usually determines what size stump grinder an arborist will use to grind a tree stump. Stump grinder machines are available in a variety of sizes. Most stump grinders are brought to a job site on a trailer, but there are also stump grinders that are towed behind trucks.
You should advise the arborist, or tree service, that’s doing the stump grinding of any underground obstructions that may be present in your landscape, such as, electric wires for accent lighting, sprinkler lines, underground dog fences, septic fields, etc. The arborist, or yourself, should contact phone and utility companies in advance of stump grinding so the location of underground wires or pipes can be identified.
Here are a few questions to ask when you need to find a local tree service, or arborist, to grind a tree stump:
How deep will the stump grinder grind the tree stump?
Will the arborist, or tree service, haul the wood chips or do they leave the wood chips?
Is the arborist going to contact phone and utility companies to locate underground wires or pipes?
Does the arborist, or tree service, carry proper insurance coverage for stump grinding?
Let the arborist, or tree service, know if you want to replant a tree in the same spot or if you are just planning to reseed the stump area with grass.
Advise the arborist, or tree service, of any known underground obstructions such as gas lines for outdoor grills, septic fields, underground dog fences, irrigation lines, etc.