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Should You Use a Stump Grinder for Tree Stump Removal: 27 Frequently Asked Questions

If you’re considering using a stump grinder to remove a tree stump from your yard, you may have questions about the process. Whether you’re new to stump grinding or simply looking to expand your knowledge, here are numerous frequently asked questions about the subject. 

This guide aims to give you the knowledge you need to make knowledgeable decisions about tree stump grinding.

What is a Stump Grinder?

A stump grinder is a machine that utilizes rotating blades to grind away at exposed tree stumps or roots. These machines are designed to remove tree stumps and roots efficiently and effectively. Personal stump grinders often resemble a combination of a chainsaw and a lawnmower, while professional versions may resemble bulldozers.

What is the Purpose of a Stump Grinder?

Stump grinding involves using a machine with a rotating blade to slowly remove exposed tree pieces and the roots’ upper layer. The process is similar to using a specialized saw to cut the wood into small pieces. 

A stump grinder acts like a mobile wood chipper, allowing you to turn the wood into mulch without transporting it. You can also use a stump grinder to grind tree roots on the surface or buried up to a foot below ground level. Most tree roots are found within the top 16 inches of soil, and numerous heavy-duty root grinders can access them.

Should You Leave a Tree Stump in the Ground?

While it is technically possible to leave a tree stump in the ground, it may not be aesthetically pleasing and could decrease the value of your home. Additionally, grass may not grow over a tree stump, and as it decomposes, fungus and mushrooms may appear, further detracting from the appearance of your yard. Removing the tree stump may be more beneficial to keep the appearance and value of your property.

If a sufficient amount of the tree stump remains, it is possible for new foliage to begin growing, which can prevent the trunk from decomposing as it should. In addition, a rotting tree stump may attract pests such as ants and termites, which may feed on the decomposing wood. Remove the tree stump to prevent these potential issues.

How Long Does it Take a Tree Stump to Naturally Decompose if Left Unprocessed?

The length of time it takes for a tree stump to decompose naturally will depend on various factors, including the size of the stump, climate and location, and the environment in which it is situated. If the stump is large enough to require a tree grinder for removal, it may take several years to decompose, significantly if new foliage can grow fully.

The minimum time typically takes for a tree stump to decompose is approximately three years, although it may take up to 20 years in some cases. If fungus or mushrooms are growing from the tree stump, this is a normal part of the decomposition process and does not make the stump grinding process dangerous. The presence of fungus may make the wood softer and easier to grind. However, if you have honey fungus, removing the wood chips and sawdust from the area is advisable as they may potentially harm other plants.

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of grinding out a Tree Stump?

Before grinding out a tree stump, it is essential to consider this approach’s potential advantages and disadvantages. While stump grinding can be an efficient and effective way to remove a tree stump, it is also essential to consider the time and effort required to set up the process, as well as any potential costs or potential risks to nearby plants or structures. Weighing the pros and cons of stump grinding can help determine the best course of action for your specific needs and circumstances.


  • Stump grinding can be quick and efficient, leaving behind only wood chips and sawdust when performed correctly.
  • Eco-friendly and safe, without the risk of disease or harmful chemicals.
  • It improves the appearance of your yard by providing a clean slate.
  • Eliminates the risk of new foliage sprouting from the tree stump.
  • Grinding tree roots to prevent regrowth.


  • Stump grinding can be messy and loud, with the potential to damage the lawn if not done correctly.
  • Stump grinding can be costly, whether you hire a professional or attempt to do it yourself.

Is it possible to grind a tree stump on your own, or is it necessary to hire a professional service?

Yes, it is possible to grind a tree stump on your own using rented or purchased equipment. However, exercising caution when operating a stump grinder is essential, as there are several potential hazards to consider. If you only have a few small stumps to remove, doing it yourself may be a cost-effective option. However, if you have multiple or larger stumps that need to be removed, hiring a professional service to handle the job may be advisable.

Is it dangerous to use a Stump Grinder?

Stump grinders are large machines resembling lawnmowers equipped with a rotating blade at the end. When used correctly and with appropriate protective gear, such as safety glasses, gloves, ear protection, and work boots, stump grinders can be relatively safe to operate. 

However, it is essential to understand how to control the machine and take necessary precautions to avoid potential injuries.

Is it easy to operate a stump grinder?

A stump grinder is generally easy to operate despite its size and power. Before beginning the process, it is essential to take necessary precautions, such as ensuring that pets and children are not present in the area and removing any rocks that could potentially damage the grinder. It is also necessary to ensure that the height of the stump is minimized, typically no more than six inches above the ground. 

Once these preparations are complete, operating the grinder involves using the lifting and lowering mechanism to position the spinning blade and moving it side to side to grind the tree stump. Overall, it is possible to operate a stump grinder successfully with patience and care.

Which is better: stump grinding or complete removal?

In most cases, grinding a tree stump is a more effective option than removing it entirely. Complete stump removal requires heavy machinery, which can damage landscaping and infrastructure. 

Additionally, stump removal leaves a large, unsightly hole in the ground that must be filled before any new plants can be planted in the area. On the other hand, stump grinding leaves wood chips and sawdust behind, which can be easily cleaned up and used as mulch. Overall, grinding is a more efficient and practical option for stump removal.

Stump removal:

  • Stump removal requires the use of heavy machinery with high power requirements.
  • Leaves a large hole in the yard.
  • May damage landscaping.
  • Complete stump removal eradicates the stump and roots, preventing regrowth.
  • After the hole left by stump removal is filled, replanting is quick and straightforward.

Stump grinding:

  • Less labor-intensive
  • Grinding a tree stump is typically faster than removing it entirely.
  • After grinding, the tree stump can be used as mulch or to fill in the hole left by the removed stump.
  • New foliage may continue to grow after stump grinding.
  • Root decay may lead to the development of disease.

What do stump grinding services involve?

Stump grinding services are offered by professional companies that specialize in removing tree stumps using specialized equipment. These services typically involve grinding the stump to the desired depth, filling the resulting hole with mulch or removing excess debris, and cleaning up the site. The depth to which the tree stump is ground can vary, depending on the specific needs and preferences of the customer. Overall, stump grinding services provide an efficient and effective way to remove tree stumps from your property.

You might also like What Fees Are Involved in a Tree Planting Project?  

How much does the stump grinding service cost?

The average cost of stump grinding services is typically around $5 per inch of diameter. However, prices can vary based on location, with rates potentially fluctuating from state to state or country. It is advisable to research the cost of stump grinding services in your specific area to get a better idea of what to expect.

Is it possible to use a chainsaw to grind a tree stump?

It is not advisable to use a chainsaw to grind a tree stump. While it may seem like a convenient solution, attempting to grind a stump with a chainsaw can be dangerous and may injure the operator. Additionally, using a chainsaw to grind a stump can cause damage to the chainsaw itself, potentially resulting in further hazards. 

Chainsaws are not equipped with the necessary guards to protect against wood chips or debris flying at the operator, making it an unsafe option for stump grinding. It is recommended to use a specialized stump grinder for this task.

What should be done when infrastructure, such as sidewalks or utility lines, is in the way of a tree stump that needs to be removed?

If infrastructure, such as sidewalks or utility lines, is present near a tree stump that needs to be removed, it may be necessary to bring in a professional tree service to handle the job. Experienced professionals are equipped with the knowledge and expertise to grind the stump safely while taking necessary precautions to avoid damaging any surrounding structures. While it may not be possible to grind the stump as profoundly as desired, most tree stumps can still be safely and effectively removed with the help of a professional service.

What is the necessary depth to which a tree stump should be ground?

The necessary depth for grinding a tree stump depends on personal preference and the service provider’s recommendations. Some people grind the stump down to a shallow depth of one inch, while others prefer to go as deep as 16 inches to ensure the tree does not regrow. It is essential to discuss the desired depth with a professional service provider to ensure that the stump is ground to the desired level and that the service provider can achieve the desired depth.

What is the average time required to grind a tree stump?

The time required to grind a tree stump can vary significantly based on the size and depth of the stump. Grinding a small stump may take as little as 15 minutes, while larger stumps may take up to six hours or more to grind. If you are hiring a professional tree service hourly, you should inquire about estimated times for the job. However, getting a price for the completed job is often more cost-effective than paying by the hour. If you’re doing the job yourself, the time relies on the machine you’re using.

Are there stumps that cannot be ground?

In some cases, tree stumps may be difficult or impossible to grind or remove due to access limitations or the proximity of nearby structures. For example, stumps in tight spaces may need to be made available to the necessary equipment. In contrast, stumps near infrastructure, such as sidewalks or concrete planters, may be difficult to remove without causing damage. 

In general, most tree stumps can be effectively ground as long as the equipment can reach them and there are no nearby structures that could be damaged during the process.

What are the next steps after a tree stump has been ground?

After a tree stump has been ground, the resulting wood chips and dirt are typically pushed back into the resulting hole. Depending on the stump’s size, excess wood chips may be left over. It is essential to cover the ground surface with a layer of topsoil to help prevent the formation of a depression in the ground as the wood chips decompose. This topsoil should be applied slightly above the natural ground line to allow for settling as the wood chips break down. Once the topsoil has been applied, the area can be reseeded or re-landscaped as desired.

After the wood chips and dirt have been returned to the hole and covered with topsoil, the area can be reseeded or re-landscaped as desired. With appropriate care and attention, growing grass successfully on a removed tree stump site is possible. Growing grass on a removed tree stump site may involve a few additional steps compared to growing grass on regular soil. Still, with proper care and attention, it is possible to establish a healthy lawn in the area. It may be necessary to apply a starter fertilizer and water the area regularly to encourage the grass to grow. In addition, the soil may need to be aerated to allow for proper root development.

What can be done with excess wood chips generated during the stump grinding process?

Excess wood chips generated during the stump grinding process can be repurposed as mulch in flower beds or vegetable patches, similar to how sawdust can be used. If you do not wish to keep the extra wood chips, you can ask your contractor to remove them or see if any neighbors would like to use them for their gardens. 

Wood chips can be a valuable and environmentally-friendly way to add nutrients and moisture to the soil, helping to promote healthy plant growth.

Can wood chips from a stump grinder attract termites?

While wood chips from a stump grinder may not attract termites, a rotting tree stump in your yard can be a different story. Termites are attracted to the wood in the decomposition process and may be drawn to a rotting tree stump as a food source. 

To stop termites from taking up residency in your yard, it is best to remove any stumps or other sources of decaying wood. If you have concerns about termites, having a professional pest control company inspect your property and take any necessary measures to prevent infestations is a good idea.

Is it cost-effective to purchase a stump grinder?

It is essential to consider the frequency and quantity of stump grinding projects you anticipate undertaking before deciding whether or not to purchase a stump grinder. If you only need to remove a few stumps infrequently, it may be more cost-effective to rent a stump grinder as needed. 

On the other hand, purchasing a stump grinder may be a worthwhile investment if you have a large property with multiple trees that need to be removed regularly or if you are in the business of tree removal and stump grinding. It is also worth considering the size and type of stumps you will be grinding, as well as the accessibility of the location, as these factors can affect the type and cost of the equipment you need.

How to get rid of a tree stump without using a grinder?

There are several ways to remove a tree stump without using a grinder:

  1. Chemical method: You can use a stump-removing chemical to decompose the wood and make it easier to remove. This method takes time, but it is safe and eco-friendly.
  2. Hand digging: If the tree stump is small and not too deep, you can remove it using a shovel, pickaxe, and other hand tools. This method is labor-intensive but affordable if you are okay with getting your hands dirty.
  3. Burning: Another option is to burn the tree stump. However, this method can be dangerous and requires the proper safety precautions, such as obtaining a burn permit, having a fire extinguisher on hand, and ensuring the fire is fully extinguished before leaving the area.
  4. Covering with soil: If the tree stump is small and not in an area where it is visible, you can cover it with soil and plant grass or other plants on top. This will help the stump decompose and blend in with the surrounding landscape.
  5. Hiring professionals: If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of removing a tree stump, you can hire a tree removal company to do it for you. They have the necessary equipment and expertise to safely and efficiently remove the stump.

What are the other options for getting rid of a stump?

One alternative to stump grinding for removing a tree stump is the “rot it out” method, which involves drilling into the stump and introducing elements that promote decomposition, such as water and nutrients. This can be a natural and eco-friendly option, but it may take longer to achieve results than other methods.

Additionally, this method may not be suitable if you need to remove the stump immediately. Still, it can be a good choice if you are willing to wait for the decomposition process to occur over time. This method also has the advantage of not requiring any physical labor or specialized equipment, and there is no need to worry about disposing of sawdust or other debris.

Is stump grinding a thriving industry?

Stump grinding can be profitable for those with the necessary equipment and expertise. This service is often in demand from homeowners and commercial property owners who need to remove tree stumps from their yards or landscaping. Stump grinding can be time-consuming and physically demanding, so it is essential to have the right tools and to train to do the job safely and efficiently.

Overall, the potential for profitability in the stump grinding business will depend on various factors and will vary from one business to another. Factors that can influence the profitability of a stump grinding business include the cost of equipment, labor, overhead expenses, and the demand for the service in a particular location. It is also beneficial to offer additional tree care services, such as tree removal, pruning, and fertilization, to expand the range of services offered and increase customer satisfaction.

Why are stump grinders so pricey?

Stump grinders are specialized, heavy machinery that comes in various forms and requires specific maintenance and handling. They can be expensive to purchase and maintain.

Can you pave over an area where a stump has been ground out?

While it is technically possible to pave over an area where a stump has been ground out, it is essential to consider its potential consequences. As the wood chips and roots from the stump decompose, the ground may sink, potentially causing issues with any permanent infrastructure, such as a driveway or patio, built above it. It may be necessary to stabilize the ground and prevent settling before paving over the area to ensure the structure’s integrity.

Is it possible to plant a new tree where an old stump previously stood?

You can plant a new tree near an old stump but not directly on top of it due to the remaining roots. Planting it at least 3 feet away from the old stump location is recommended for optimal growth.

Final Thoughts

Stump grinding is a valuable and effective method for removing tree stumps from a lawn or landscape. It is an environmentally friendly way to recycle the nutrients in the stump back into the soil and can help improve the yard’s appearance. 

Additionally, stump grinding does not pose any danger to pets or children, making it a safe option for tree stump removal. Utilizing a stump grinder to grind out tree stumps can help restore your yard’s natural beauty and potentially even generate fuel for a wood stove or fire pit from the tree.

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