Complete Guide to Tree Stump Removal
What’s the best way to remove a tree stump? There are several different methods and some are easier than others. The DIY approach for stump removal can be incredibly difficult and potentially dangerous, including using chainsaws, drills, stump remover solutions, waiting for a week of dry weather–no easy task in the Pacific Northwest–and kerosene. This process can take weeks, making it difficult to quickly reclaim that space. For this reason, most homeowners find that hiring a professional service is the most efficient way to clear their property of leftover trunks.
There are several methods homeowners and professionals can use to remove a stump:
Grinding a stump is the quickest and most thorough method of stump removal. A grinder can dig into the ground, chewing up the trunk and roots anywhere from 6 to 18 inches deep. Grinding doesn’t just remove a stump, it demolishes it and turns the wood into an ideal composting material. A professional service may be able to complete the job in a matter of minutes. The time it takes depends on the size of the tree and the power of the grinder.
Grinders can be rented at some home-improvement stores. If you enjoy working with heavy machinery, you can consider grinding a stump yourself. For many people, however, stump grinding is outside of their comfort level. If you only have one stump to grind, it may be just as economical to hire a service as it is to rent a grinder.
Digging out a stump with a shovel is only practical for very small trees with shallow roots. Even the small trees have roots that are tough to get out using hand tools. You’ll need to expose the roots before cutting them with some sort of tool. Once the roots are cut, they have to be pulled out.
Backhoe Stump Removal
Some stumps (generally conifers only as they are surface root trees and deciduous are generally root balls under the tree) are pulled from the ground with a backhoe. Using a backhoe is a disruptive method that can create a mess in a yard. Once the stump removal is complete, they need to be disposed of.
This method uses chemicals to speed up the decomposition of a stump, mentioned above as a common DIY approach. In some areas, including the state of Oregon, the most effective chemicals are illegal. This means it could take years for the stump to decompose, plus newer stumps take much longer than older stumps.
However, if you choose to go this route for stump removal, here’s how you do it. Wait for a dry period in the weather so the stump is looking for liquid. Holes are drilled in the wood. Remover (follow directions on the package) is added to the holes, and it works by slowly rotting the wood particles. Even though the remover speeds the process of decay, it may take years to get rid of the stump. Before considering a chemical remover, research the legal restrictions and environmental hazards associated with the product.
Stump grinding tends to be the choice of most pros. It’s quick, efficient, and immediately frees up space for the projects you’ve been envisioning for your yard.
Stump Grinding Leaves an Ideal Spot for Plants
Grinders can delve up to 18 inches into the ground, breaking up both stump and roots. If a bigger garden is your dream, you have a head start. You won’t have to dig through a tangle of growth to carve out a spot for planting. To make the most of the soil, remove some of the wood chips and mix in topsoil or compost. Plant seeds or transplants. The new spot will be easy to work and is perfect for either grass, flowers, tubers or vegetables.
Wood chips left from stump grinding make good mulch. Mulching holds in moisture and helps seedlings get established. You can also add the wood to a compost pile. Fresh wood chips don’t have the ideal nutrients or PH balance to support plants, but they will eventually enrich the soil. It’s important to have enough topsoil for new plants to get off to a good start.
If you’re not in a hurry, let the area remain fallow for a year. By then the wood will have decomposed and won’t have the tendency to rob the soil of nitrogen.
5 reasons for tree stump removal
Still not convinced removing your stump is worth the trouble? Here are 5 good reasons to finally have that stump removed.
When trees grow to maturity, after all those years they tend to be a focal point in our landscaping, a familiar part of our everyday surroundings. So at some point, when the tree is gone and a stump is all that’s left, it can be quite a change. This inspires a lot of people to do something different with the newly open landscape. Maybe you’d like to plant some shrubs there or put in a lily pond. Either way, if you want to re-landscape the area, the stump will have to go. We grind the stump and roots at least 12-15 inches into the ground to ensure successful future planting.
If you have children who love to spend time playing outside, a tree stump can really be a hazard. They could easily trip over it and injure themselves. Stumps can also trip up your guests and neighbors, which could be a liability.
When a stump is left after a tree is removed, sometimes, flimsy new sprouts called “shoots” will start to develop. Shoots aren’t necessarily unsightly, but they are almost impossible to prevent if the stump and roots remain. You may have to resort to using harsh chemicals to get rid of them completely, which can harm other plantings. Furthermore, these new shoots will steal nutrients from the plants and trees around them. If you want to get rid of the shoots, you have to get rid of the roots, which will require professional stump removal through grinding.
Stumps can easily damage your lawn mower if you run over them when cutting the grass. Maneuvering around them to prevent this is a real nuisance, and may keep you from doing a proper job when taking care of your lawn.
If you had a tree removed (or if it fell) due to disease or insect infestation, disposing of the tree alone may not save the rest of your landscape from the same fate. To completely eradicate the pests or disease, it is necessary to remove the stump and roots as well.