Meg’s Guide to Gardening: Stump Removal with a Stump Grinder

Getting rid of the trees is the easy part. The stumps they leave behind are more tenacious. Tree roots run deep. Chemical formulas promise to dissolve them, but you may have to wait years before they get the job done. For a quicker solution you’ll need to rent a stump grinder. These machines turn tree stumps and roots into sawdust in a matter of minutes, not years.

The Tools You’ll Need:
A Chainsaw
A Stump Grinder
A Shovel
A Rake

How to Rent a Stump Grinder
The best place to look for a stump grinder is at the rental office of your local home and garden or equipment rental center. On average, the cost of a rental is between $100 and $200 dollars per day. A professional will charge you roughly the same amount to remove a small stump. If you have many stumps to remove, you can significantly cut down on the cost. Check around the neighborhood or post a notice on Craigslist to see if anyone in your area needs stumped removed. You may be able to split the rental cost.

When you pick up your stump grinder, make sure you have a truck or trailer of sufficient size to bring the stump grinder home. Some models are quite large. Call ahead to determine the stump grinders weight to make sure that you can accommodate it. If the stump grinder is too large you may be able to have it delivered.

Before you leave the rental office, have the rental agent walk you through the stump grinder’s operation. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or request repeat demonstrations. A stump grinder is a potentially dangerous machine that must be used correctly for your safety. Ask about and procure the right safety equipment. You’ll likely need goggles, ear protection, a hard hat and heavy work gloves.

Prepare the Area

Cut the stump down as close to ground level as possible with a chain saw. Then clear the debris around the stump. Dig up any rocks around the stump. If the stump grinder’s blades strike one, its blades may break or dull. If you damage the machine and you haven’t purchased insurance you may not get your deposit back.

How to Use the Stump Grinder
Read the owner’s manual from cover to cover before you operate the machine. Every stump grinder model is different.

Once you’re comfortable with its operation, move the stump grinder to one side of the stump. Use the stump grinder’s hydraulic lever to raise the grinding wheel three inches above the stump. Drive the stump grinder forward until the grinding wheel is right over the edge of the nearest edge of the tree stump.

Now you’re ready to grind. Turn on the grinding action. Lower the grinding wheel down slowly until you cut through the stump. Move the grinding wheel side to side as necessary. Keep grinding until you remove the wood 4 inches below the ground. Then lift the grinding wheel and move it forward to grind the next section. Repeat until the stump is ground away.

Clean Up the Mess

Rake up the sawdust. Bag it and discard it or add it to your compost pile. Next, fill the hole with soil to prevent a tripping hazard.

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