Stump Removing vs. Grinding: Which Is Better?

Shel Silverstein’s classic The Giving Tree is pretty generous to stumps. A symbol of unconditional love, the stump becomes a seat for the boy, now an old man, that the tree loved.

Your stump isn’t like that.

It may not be a menace, but there are good reasons for getting rid of that stump nonetheless. All you have to do is choose which option, stump removing or stump grinding, is right for your situation.

Why Dealing With a Stump Is Important

Once you finish with the hard work of chopping down and carting off your tree, it’s tempting to assume the job is done. Compared to the tree that was there before, a stump doesn’t look like much. But, there are a few good reasons to take care of the stump too:

  • Safety: stumps can be a tripping hazard, and also damage your mower if you hit the stump or its roots while cutting the grass
  • Pests: as they decay, stumps become a home and breeding ground for ants, termite, beetles, and fungi that could invade your home or other plants
  • Property value: stumps are unsightly, and can affect the look of your yard and the value of your land
  • Tree growth: stumps can sprout new trees, which you will then have to remove as well

Overall, a stump may not look like much, but it can become a serious headache if you leave it too long. You have two main options: stump removal and stump grinding.

Pros and Cons of Stump Removing

Stump removal involves pulling out the entire stump and its root system. Perhaps obviously, it is a more intrusive, and thus expensive, process.

However, that is one of the key benefits: stump removal takes care of the roots as well, leaving you with a clean slate to start anew. It is easy to replant, there are no more tripping hazards or dangers to your mower, and no rotting roots in the ground.

Of course, there will be a large hole left over that you will need to fill in. Because it can require some heavy machinery, removing a stump is more time and labor-intensive, and may damage the surrounding lawn.

Pros and Cons of Stump Grinding

On the other hand, stump grinding is less damaging to the environment. Arborists bring in a machine, often a skid steer stump grinder, to grind the stump down level with the ground (or to your desired height).

Stump grinding is faster, cheaper, requires less labor, and does not leave behind the same large hole. It does produce a large pile of wood chips, but these can be carted away or you can use them to mulch your other plants.

The downside of stump grinding is that it leaves behind the root system of the tree, which, depending on the size of the tree, can be extensive. These roots will decay, can make mowing the lawn difficult, and can eventually sprout into new trees.

Pick for Your Property

Ultimately, the right choice will depend on your particular property, especially your plans for the space where this tree previously stood. Consulting with an arborist can help you decide which option for stump removing fits your needs and budget.

For more home improvement tips, browse some of our other blog posts.

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