Tree root removal is also known as stump removal or grinding is the total removal of the tree stump and the root ball.

Tree stump removal also deals with surface root removal and other invasive roots.

In this article, we are going to cover everything you need to know about tree stump removal tree services.

complete tree root removal guide

How much does stump removal cost?

The cost of tree root removal is not constant. It depends on a few factors which include the size of the roots, location of the property, nature of obstacles surrounding the roots such as concrete foundation, and time.

However, on average, you should expect $161 per tree/ root ball. The range is from $70 to $500 depending on the size of the tree.

Some trees have large roots while others have small ones. The number of roots to be removed may also vary.

Remember that in cases where stump removal is done on a healthy tree there is a need for care to avoid damaging the tree or affecting its health in any way.

Cost of surface root removal

Whether you can remove surface roots will depend on how close they are to your trees’ trunk. Roots connect the tree to the ground and if you were to remove too many the tree could easily blow over in a strong wind.

The cost of having surface tree roots removed is much cheaper than full root system removal. You can expect to pay between $150 and $350.

The rule of thumb is to only remove surface roots that are outside the dripline of a tree. That is the area at the edge of the canopy. You can also measure the diameter of the tree trunk and multiply it by 3.

surface root removal

Can I DIY stump removal?

Yes.  However, the truth is that it is a very risky affair unless you have training in the area of arboriculture or prior experience with a stump grinding machine.

The risk of hitting underground gas pipes and cables is very real.

If you are removing a few shallow surface roots, you should be fine. Follow the instructions below. If you want to remove the entire root ball then I suggest you go with a professional.

Some of the ways of DIY root and stump removal include digging out the roots by hand or using a stump grinding machine.

removing tree roots by hand

How to DIY remove surface roots of a tree

Take the following steps to remove surface roots from around a tree.

1. Where to cut – Measure the diameter of your tree trunk. You may cut roots that are a distance of 5 times the diameter away from the trunk.

e.g. If the trunk of your tree is 1 foot wide, you can cut roots 5 feet away from the trunk.

2. Prepare – Find where you want to cut the root and dig a small home either side and under the root.

3. The cut – Then use a sharp tool to cut. This will ensure the root can heal itself quickly.

Alternative to removing surface roots from lawns

This is a method you can use when you would like to preserve the tree without cutting any roots.

Instead of removing the roots, you build up your lawn level to the roots are submerged again.

You do this slowly by spreading ½ an inch of topsoil over your lawn and waiting for the lawn to grow through. In 6 months, once it has you can build it up some more.

As a result, the tree roots will become fully submerged and your lawn will be looking amazing again.

How many tree roots can I cut?

Tree roots are how the tree feeds itself and how it can stabilize in strong winds. Removing too many roots at once can undermine both your trees’ ability to feed themselves and to remain safe.

I do not suggest removing more than 1 or 2 roots each year. But keeping this as a limit, you give your tree a chance to grow more roots during the year before you repeat the process.

It might also be a good idea to trim some branches off the tree when you trim the roots to relieve the tree’s burden of supporting the foliage while it heals.

What is the best time of year to cut tree roots?

Like regular tree trimming, late winter early spring is the best time of year to remove tree root system. This is when the tree has passed the harshest parts of winter and is beginning to come back to life.

This will give the tree the best chance to heal itself while pests like borer beetles and fungus are not yet active.

How do you remove tree roots under concrete?

This is not an easy process since you have to safeguard both the tree and the concrete. Unless you are will to remove the tree completely.

There are two methods you can use to remove tree roots under concrete.

The first one is by cutting or killing the roots to stop their further growth under the concrete. That means that you have to physically cut the roots from their source or any other point outside the concrete that will stop their growth.

You can also use a chemical to kill the roots.

The second method is more difficult and costly. It involves removing the concrete, remove the roots, and pour fresh concrete back again.

tree roots lifting concrete
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Best way to remove tree roots from lawn

The best way to remove tree roots from a lawn is by cutting them at a point of growth or spread where they are going downwards.

By doing this, you will be able to kill them fast hence preventing their further growth into the lawn.

At the same time, it is a method that will save your lawn from damage.

Also, make sure that you use a sterilized saw to prevent infections that may go-ahead to kill the tree.

The following are a few methods you can use to remove roots under a lawn.

These are other methods you can use.

  • Cutting roots at their growing point.
  • Dig out pieces of lawn then remove the roots and return the pieces to their normal location.
  • Expose the roots to chemicals from their source
  • Use herbicides on any suckers showing
  • Using a stump grinder
  • Remove the tree stump or tree roots by hand with a pick

DIY vs Professional Service

The difference between DIY and professional service is huge.

The first thing is that it is always advisable to use professional services in cases where you are not sure where the underground services are on your property.

removing surface roots by professional

Pros of DIY

  • Saves on cost of hiring services
  • You can do it at any time you want.

Cons of DIY

  • High risk of damaging underground services
  • Time-consuming
  • Costly hire of the machinery
  • Backbreaking labor

Pros of Professional services

  • Good safe results
  • Low chance of damaging underground services
  • It is fast and you don’t lift a finger.

Cons of professional services

  • It will generally cost more than hiring a stump grinder yourself

Machine rental home depot cost

When renting a stump grinder, you will need at least a 13HP machine. This costs about $110 from 4 hours from Homedept. This does not include delivery and pickup of the machine.

13hp compact stump grinder

Hidden dangers

There are several hidden dangers attached to DIY tree stump removal. These are dangers that both professionals and anyone trying to remove tree root system must know about and take caution.

yellow flag marking underground utilities

Damaging the tree

Roots are an important component of trees’ health. They facilitate water uptake and support. As a result of trying to remove surface roots, any injuries or damages can cause serious effects to the tree. Serious damage to the roots can affect the health of the tree significantly.

Knowing which roots to remove and at what point to sever them is crucial.

The Physical weakening of trees stability

Because roots are the only thing connecting a tree to the ground and stopping it from falling over if you every too many of them too close to the trunk the tree may become unstable and fall over.

Water Pipes

Water pipes can be a danger when stump removal tree services are working. You never know where water pipes are passing when using a stump grinder on tree roots. It is crucial to first examine the ground to make sure there are no water pipes.

In case you find any, it is easier to disconnect part of the water pipes close to the roots before proceeding. In case this is not possible, remove the roots carefully or use specialized equipment to avoid damages.

Electrical cables

There are cases where you may find electrical cables. In such cases, you should contact a qualified electrician to help you with the process. You can have an electrician disconnect the power and move the cables for the time required to do the job.

If you are not sure or qualified, do not attempt to do it yourself. Always check before starting the process to make sure there are no cables around the area.

Sewer

Sewers are another dangerous concern with root removal. They may not be as server as cutting through cables or gas pipes, but it will be as costly to fix.

If you are using a professional service, and you know there is a sewer system, make sure that you inform them before they start the job.

Ben McInerney
Author: Ben McInerney - Ben is a qualified arborist with 15 plus years of industry experience in Arboriculture. He ran a successful tree service before turning to writing and publishing. Ben is dedicated to providing users with the most accurate up-to-date information on everything trees.