Stump grinding is the process of turning a tree stump into mulch-sized wood chips. Using a special machine with rotating saw blades, the stump is ground below the surface of the soil. This allows the surrounding landscape to grow around the area without a visible reminder of the former tree. Stumps can be a real eyesore, and they also prevent lawn mowing, create safety hazards, and hinder landscaping. In some cases, a stump may be necessary for utility access or to protect the foundation of a house or other structure. However, a rotting stump will soon attract home-damaging termites and carpenter ants that will quickly spread to nearby trees and shrubs. Rather than poison the yard with chemicals or pull out the stump, a safer and more practical option is to grind the remains of the old tree and let it decompose naturally.
The first step is to assess the location and condition of the stump. Stumps that are close to houses or other structures will need extra care, with careful planning and a precision grind to ensure no damage is done. Also, the stump should be located away from buried power, water, and gas lines.
After donning the appropriate safety stump grinding gear, it’s time to start grinding. Begin by positioning the stump grinder wheel a few inches above the front edge of the stump. Then lower the wheel to slowly grind it into the stump until it is completely level with the surrounding soil. After the stump is ground, Burke recommends raking up the loose wood chips and putting them back in the hole, then adding topsoil, spreading grass seed, and letting it grow.
Burke says one of the most common reasons people have their stumps ground is to open up space for new plantings. Leaving a stump behind will soon become a breeding ground for pests that will eventually invade nearby trees and plants, and if the stump is in a mowing or traffic zone, it could cause a serious injury if someone falls over it.
While the majority of stumps can be ground out, there are situations in which it is impossible. For example, a large oak or maple stump can be incredibly difficult to grind due to its size and thick, hard wood. Also, if the stump is surrounded by concrete or other hardscape material, it may not be possible to grind it out without damaging the material and possibly exposing underlying utilities and pipes.
If you have a stubborn stump that needs to be removed, contact a professional. They can provide all the necessary services, including site assessment and markings, precision grinding, and complete clean up. They should also be able to handle the permitting and inspection requirements. If the stump is in a location that requires extra care, they can help plan for a difficult grind and find solutions for underground lines and other challenges.