When you hire somebody to cut down trees, even if it’s a major company, you are very unlikely to be left with an entirely clear property. Most contractors will cut down the trees, but leave the stumps in place. If you want to get rid of the stumps, you’re going to need to do that on your own, and it is not a fun task in the slightest.
Stumps are large, awkward, and stubborn, and the only sane way to get them out is with a stump grinder. That’s not a tool most people are confident with using at all, but here at Best of Tools, we’re prepared to help you get your head around stump grinders and how to get the best out of them.
Why use a stump grinder?
While you can pay a professional landscaper to get rid of stumps for you, they generally charge per stump, and it’s not cheap. Expect to pay $100 or more to have most stumps removed – and that’s for a single stump! Hiring a stump grinder, however, usually comes to $100 to $200 per day. So if you’re only removing one or two stumps, professional services are a great option. If you’ve got a lot to deal with, though, then hiring a stump grinder is the most economical and efficient option.
Preparing to use a stump grinder
To start with, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got a good quality eye and ear protection. Stump grinders are loud and potentially dangerous, and you should never use one without protective clothing. You’ll also need a vehicle with a trailer hitch in order to tow the machine – stump grinders generally weigh in the region of 1000 lb, so you’re not going to be moving it by hand!
Rocks can cause damage to the teeth of a stump grinder’s cutting wheel, blunting and potentially breaking them, so you’ll need to prepare the area before you start. Begin by removing any rocks from around the stump with a standard shovel or mattock. Then, to speed things up, use a chain saw to trim the stump down and shave it as close to the ground as possible. This step is not completely essential, but it makes things much faster!
How to use a stump grinder
Using the main hydraulic lever, lift the grinder wheel up to a few inches above the stump you’re planning to remove. Drive the machine forward until the wheel is positioned directly above the front edge, and then start it spinning. Lower the wheel slowly until it bites about 3 inches into the stump and slowly swings it from side to side to clear the wood away. Then, you can move the machine forward a few inches and repeat the process again.
Once you’ve made it all the way through the stump, switch the stump grinder off and check that you’ve dug down to at least 4 inches below the ground. Rake up all the wood debris and fill the crater up with topsoil. Once you’ve done that, you can scatter grass seed over the soil and water it, and you’re all done!