If you have tree stumps on your property, you will need to grind them. It is the best way to keep it from looking unkempt. It is also guaranteed to make your property safer. But how deep should you really grind these stumps for the best results? And how far can you really grind them?
While tree stump grinding experts typically grind stumps to between 4 and 6 inches below the ground level, stump grinders can go deeper. Some can grind stumps up to 13 – 20 inches below the ground surface. And others, like vertical stump grinders, can go as deep as 62.5” below grade.
Here is all you need to know about how deep you should grind a stump in your yard.
Typically, tree stumps are ground from between 4” to 6” below the surface. This is the ideal grinding depth because it offers a perfect balance between grinding costs and effectiveness. Furthermore, most tree stumps do not extend beyond 6 inches below the ground surface.
You can always request the stump grinding company to go deeper but it will cost more. However, this also does not mean that you can ask for unlimited grinding depth.
The following are the reasons why unlimited grinding is not an option.
- Obstacles around the trees
Tree stump grinders are only designed to dig and chew through the earth and wood. They can’t break down rocks and other hard materials like steel plates. Therefore, if the trees that are to be ground are in an area with near-the-surface bedrock or are next to a building or construction site, you may not have the option of grinding as deep as you would like.
- Depth of the stump
You can only grind a stump as far as it extends.
Some trees have surface roots. Their roots also extend deep below the surface. And since the process is only concerned with chewing through the stump, you are sometimes limited to a shallower depth simply because there is nothing left to grind. This is so, especially for trees that primarily develop surface roots.
- Presence and depth of utilities
You may also have to limit yourself to shallower grinding once you run across utility lines. In such a case, proceeding with the process may not be worth the risk to underground cables or utility lines.
- The type of stump grinder
Not all grinders are created equal. Some can only grind up to a depth of 13”. Others can grind up to 18” below the ground surface. And some, like vertical grinders, go deeper than 60”.
Therefore, how deep you can grind your tree stump will also be limited by the type of grinder that you are using. As a result, if you are hiring a tree service, making sure that they have the machine that will accommodate your depth needs, is important.
How deep can a stump grinder go?
Most stump grinders1 can grind up to depths that range between 13 inches and 18 inches below grade. But most tree service providers rarely have to use the full depth of a stump grinder because tree stumps don’t usually extend that deep below the surface.
However, this does not mean that nothing exists that can go deeper. For those who need something that can go to deeper-than-average depths, vertical grinders will be perfect for them.
Vertical grinders are specialized tree stump grinders that are designed to go way deeper than the typical grinder. With these grinders, it is possible to grind a stump up to more than 62 inches below the surface. However, your local tree service professional may not be using such a stump grinder as requests for grinding depths of more than 18” tend to be rare.
Why should you grind tree stumps?
You should grind tree stumps for the following reasons.
- They make your home look unattractive
When stumps stick out all over your yard, they will make it look unkempt. It can even lower your home’s value. Therefore, to restore its aesthetic value, you may have to grind the stumps.
- They attract harmful pests
Termites, ants, and other pests find tree stumps very attractive. They are a source of shelter for most pests. And they are also a source of food for some. Therefore, you should remove them if you want to discourage pests from camping in your yard.
- They will make it challenging to do work in your yard
A tree stump is almost always an inconvenience. If you want to mow your lawn or do any kind of yard work, you will always have to work around it. This can be very frustrating. And it is a frustration that you may only be able to solve by grinding the stump.
- They take up valuable space
Tree stumps, especially large ones, take up significant space on a property. They limit what one can do, and so you may have to have them ground in order to free up space.
Given how much of a nuisance and inconvenience leaving stumps in your home is, it is generally advisable to have them ground as soon as possible. Doing so will make your home more attractive, safer, and pest-free. It will also allow you more freedom to maintain it. And it will also create enough space to allow you to set up various projects around your home.
How much does it cost to rent a stump grinder?
It usually costs between $150 and $300 per day to rent a stump grinder. This often doesn’t include the cost of transporting the stump grinder to your place. And it also doesn’t include the cost of gas.
Given the rental costs and other costs that are incidental to running the grinder, it is sometimes advisable to opt for a professional tree service as it may be cheaper than trying to grind the stump on your own.
What is the difference between stump grinding and stump removal?
Stump removal involves getting rid of the stump and the root system while stump grinding, which is one of the fastest ways of getting rid of a stump, is only focused on the stump, and not on the root system. This difference usually makes grinding a stump to be a convenient, affordable, and less labor-intensive way of getting rid of tree stumps.
Stump removal involves removing the stump and all the roots attached to it. It is thus more invasive than the alternative — which is only concerned with using a grinding machine to chew through the stump.
Tree stump grinding involves using a stump grinder machine to chew through the stump. On the other hand, tree removal is usually done by either physically digging around the stump and uprooting it or by using a backhoe to uproot trees that have shallow roots.
Size of hole
Stump removal usually leaves a larger hole. This is because grinding is only focused on the limited vertical space that the stump occupies. Stump removal, on the other hand, is focused on more than the stump. It involves completely getting rid of both the stump and any roots attached to it.
If you are planning on planting a tree right where the old one was located, tree removal offers the new tree a better chance of thriving. This is because, with tree removal, you will be getting rid of the old tree’s roots. This means that the roots won’t be around to give the new one competition — in terms of space and nutrients. And they also won’t be able to change the soil’s pH once they rot.
While a stump grinder can go as deep as 18 inches below the surface, it is not designed to remove a tree and its roots. The stump grinder can only handle the main trunk. Therefore, it tends to leave the roots of the old tree intact. These roots will take up space. Some of them may still be competing for nutrients. And when they rot, they will definitely make the soil less friendly to the replanted tree.
When you use a stump grinder, you are only getting rid of part of the old tree. When compared to removal, the process is also faster. And it usually requires less powerful tools. As a result, a tree service is more likely to charge less for it.
Therefore, generally, you are more likely to spend less money when you grind a stump.
Will the tree come back after a stump is ground?
A tree will not grow back after its stump has been ground. This is because most trees cannot survive the trauma of their main trunk getting cut off, let alone being ground to its roots.
However, there are certain tree species that have a higher-than-normal ability to regenerate. For these species, it might not be enough to grind their stumps. To keep the tree from regrowing, stump removal — where you get rid of the stump plus tree roots — is what may be needed. Soaking the roots with white vinegar might also help.
A good example of such trees is chinaberry trees, crape myrtles, and Bradford pear trees.
Yes, you can plant a new tree at least 3 feet away from where your old tree was.
However, replanting on the exact spot where the old one was is inadvisable as the old tree’s roots will still be in existence. They can still compete with the new tree for nutrients. Furthermore, even though its roots will eventually rot, they are bound to change the soil’s pH, something that may then make it challenging for the newly replanted tree to thrive.
Therefore, even if you don’t want to leave the area bare, you shouldn’t plant a new tree in the same exact spot. You can always opt for planting grass or simply refilling the hole and establishing a flower bed.
Yes, grinding a tree stump is necessary if it is making your home unattractive.
If you have children or are fond of having visitors, grinding is also necessary in order to make your home safer. This is because stumps are common tripping hazards and so removing them will definitely reduce accidental tripping injuries.
And it is also necessary in cases where you want to discourage pests from invading your home. And also if you want to reduce the risk of spreading a tree disease.
However, you don’t always have to remove every stump on your property. You can always repurpose the stump. You can carve a sitting chair out of it, create a garden bed, or even use it as a centerpiece in landscaping.
Stump grindings are what remain after a stump has been ground. They can be used as mulch in your yard. You will also be left with a hole that will need to be refilled.
You can use the sawdust as mulch. You can also use it to pave your roads, repair wood products, or as a raw material for your compost.
If you don’t want to use the sawdust as mulch or compost, you can always donate it to a needy farmer who may want to use it as animal bedding. The farmer may also have a garden, and in such a case, they may use it as mulch.
You can also sell it online. And you can also simply decide to request the tree service company that is grinding your stump to dispose of them.
If you need professional help to get rid of tree stumps on your property, you should visit GoTreeQuotes.com. It offers a free service that quickly matches you with the top-voted local tree service professional experts in your area.
Using the website, you can get 3 estimates fast by real certified experts in your area in just 2 minutes. Here is how it works.
- You scroll to the top of the page and enter your Zip code.
- Answer questions about your stump removal needs
- Your details will be forwarded to three local experts.
- You will then receive a price estimate for the job and some friendly advice.
IMPORTANT: There is no obligation to hire. This is a free tool and service to be used at your pleasure.
- Earthworks WNC, (2023) How Deep Does Stump Grinding Reach? <https://earthworkswnc.com/how-deep-does-stump-grinding-reach/> Accessed: 21-02-2024.
- The Davey Tree Expert Company, (2019) Is Tree Stump Removal Necessary, Or Is It Better To Grind A Stump? <https://blog.davey.com/is-tree-stump-removal-necessary-or-is-it-better-to-grind-a-stump/> Accessed: 21-02-2024.