Stump Removal vs. Stump Grinding

Stumps remaining after tree removal or after a tree falls unexpectedly are unsightly and obstacles to mowing and landscaping. There are several different methods of getting rid of a stump, but the two basic approaches are stump removal or stump grinding. The best method to choose usually depends on the size of the stump, your budget, how hard you’re willing to work, and how long you’re willing to wait to get rid of the stump.

Stump Removal

In stump removal, physical or chemical means can be used to get rid of the stump, or steps can be taken to speed up the natural decomposition process.

Physical Stump Removal (Digging Out)

To physically remove a stump requires a lot of digging and chopping roots, and depending on the size and age of the stump, it may require a four-wheel drive truck or similar vehicle to jerk the stump out of the ground. Once the stump is out, a large hole is left behind to fill, and the stump must be hauled away or otherwise disposed. Generally, city trash services will not pick up stumps, so for this method, usually the stump has to be cut up into pieces small enough to handle after it’s removed and then either hauled away, chipped, or burned.
Due to the intensive labor involved in digging out a stump, it’s generally only practical for small stumps. Even then, the labor cost may be prohibitive. Depending on the amount of time you’re willing to spend on manual labor to do the work, you can dig out a small stump as a DIY project – if you’ve a got the better part of a day to devote to the job.

Chemical Stump Removal

The other methods for stump removal involve either chemicals and fire, or helping the stump to rot by application of synthetic or organic fertilizers.
Fire is the quickest method, but it also requires application of chemicals and isn’t the safest method, especially if the stump is close to buildings or other flammable material. A stump will smolder for hours and needs to be watched until it burns out. If you live in town and open burning is prohibited, fire is not even an option.
The chemical method takes weeks to break down the stump, during which time the stump must be kept covered so children and animals do not come into contact with the chemicals. The chemicals will gradually break down the stump to the point where it can easily be broken apart into small pieces, but usually some portion will remain and require burning. After the stump is gone, traces of toxic chemicals will remain in the surrounding soil.

Stump Removal by Decomposition

The rotting method takes years to fully remove the stump, but it’s the only stump removal method other than digging that’s environmentally friendly. The other methods all rely on toxic chemicals which will leave a residue even after the stump is gone. This is an important consideration if the stump is located in an area where children or pets play.
In the rotting method, holes drilled into the stump are filled with nitrogen fertilizer, manure, or compost. Alternately, a compost pile can be built on and around the stump. All of these are safe, environmentally-friendly methods of speeding up decomposition. Even so, expect to make repeated applications of your choice of fertilizer and wait several years for the stump to fully decompose.

Stump Grinding

Stump grinding has several big advantages over all of the various stump removal methods. Stump grinding is:
Fast – above ground portion of the stump will be gone within an hour or two
Less labor intensive than digging and much less expensive
Does not create a large hole to fill in
Leaves no waste – wood chips from stump can be used to mulch flowerbeds
Requires no chemicals and leaves no chemical residues in soil
No burning necessary

The goal of stump grinding differs in that no attempt is made to remove the entire subsoil portion of the stump. Instead, a stump grinding machine is used to grind the stump down four inches or more below the soil line. The shallow hole that remains is filled with a mixture of soil and wood chips from the stump, and the area can be immediately seeded or sodded. The subsoil portion of the stump that remains will decompose over the next several years as organisms in the soil break it down.
Stump grinding is not the best candidate for a DIY project. The machinery can be dangerous and is very heavy; it requires a hitch for moving; and the cost of renting the machine for a day is about the same as hiring a professional to grind down the stump. Unless you have several stumps that you need to grind down, hiring a stump grinding pro is the best bet from both a money and time – as well as safety  – standpoint.
If you’re ready to get rid of an unsightly stump on your property, contact Capital City Tree Service at 501-686-2097 for professional stump grinding in Little Rock and North Little Rock. In less than a few hours, your stump will be reduced to wood chips you can use as mulch for your flowerbeds.

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