Stump Removal Versus Stump Grinding: How to Decide

Dec 15, 2020

This is Part 2 of our series on tree removal. Check out part 1 here

If you’ve recently chopped down a tree, or for whatever reason have just now decided to take care of a stump that’s been in your yard for a while, you have a decision to make — how to get rid of it. 

There are two options: stump removal or stump grinding. 

Stump Removal or Stump Grinding — Either Way You Should Take Action

Whichever method you choose, it’s important that you do take steps to get rid of any tree stumps in your yard. There are a few reasons why:

  • The rotting wood of dead stumps are a haven for pests and diseases that can spread to other trees on your property.
  • Tree stumps lower your property value and just aren’t nice to look at.
  • Stumps can cause new growth — new trees may sprout around the base of the stump.

You May Be Able to Remove a Stump Yourself — If it’s Small

That means digging out the root ball. Keep in mind that it’s not unusual for the trees in your yard to have root systems that extend outwards 10 or 12 feet from the base of the tree. It’s not realistic to expect to be able to dig out a stump that large by yourself. So keep DIY stump removal to young or very small trees that you can reasonably expect to completely dig out.

Chemical stump removers are also an option. But keep in mind that those products only speed up the natural decay process, meaning they’ll still take a long time.

DIY stump grinding is not recommended. A chainsaw will not be adequate to do the job — you’ll need to rent a gas powered stump grinder. There are several different kinds, but even the smallest cost around $100-200 dollars a day. There’s also the matter of actually using it — something you probably don’t know how to do, and which we recommend leaving to professionals. 

In almost all situations, you’re going to want to hire a certified arborist to take care of a tree stump.

What is Stump Grinding?

A stump grinder will shave the tree stump down until it’s a couple of inches above the ground. That means the root ball will remain intact, but you also won’t have to tear up your whole yard. 

If you’re dealing with a stump that’s not likely to be in the way of upcoming construction, stump grinding may be the better choice. It’s cheaper and faster, and won’t leave you with a lot of holes that you’ll either have to take care of or learn to live with. Stump grinding does leave you with a spot that may be a small eyesore, so you’ll have to decide if that’s worth the ease and efficiency. 

One bonus of stump grinding is that you’ll end up with wood chips that can be turned into mulch for the other plants in your yard. 

A tree that’s been ground down to the roots cannot regrow, so that shouldn’t factor into your decision. The roots will break down over time, although the process is so slow that it won’t create structural problems on your land — you don’t need to worry about a sinkhole or anything like that.

Stump Removal Will Give You a More Complete Job — At a Cost

As mentioned before, if you’re planning a construction project in the area, you’ll want to remove the stump and roots entirely, not just grind it down. But stump removal is an invasive project, so it shouldn’t be taken on lightly. Root balls are often several times bigger than the tree itself. 

Stump removal also leaves you with a big hole, and probably more than just one — and they’re not going to look good. That’s why we suggest you think long and hard before investing in the extra time and cost for stump removal, unless you’re planning on freeing up the space to build or pave over the area. 

Wait Before Planting

With both stump removal or stump grinding, we don’t recommend planting a new tree in the same spot. That’s because the nutrients in the soil probably won’t be adequate for a sapling. There’s also the risk of disease transfer. If you really want to put another tree in, the basic rule of thumb is to wait at least a year.

Arbor Leaf Tree Care handles both stump removal and stump grinding. Reach out for a free estimate.

Brandon Crowell

Brandon Crowell is the owner and operator of Arbor Leaf Tree Care. He is a certified arborist who, for more than 18 years, has helped Dallas/Fort Worth-area homeowners retain the natural beauty and value of their properties. He is on call 24/7, 365 days a year.
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