Grinding stumps presents a faster, more affordable, and simpler method for removing tree stumps. Nonetheless, in various aspects of arboriculture, stump grinding can be a complicated and hazardous task.

There are different ways to remove tree stumps like digging them out by hand or burning them if permissible in your area, but a simpler and more effective method is to use a stump grinder. Stump grinding enables your tree service to accomplish a safe, efficient, and full tree stump removal, allowing you to repurpose the space where the tree formerly stood.

Stump grinders can range in size from a lawn mower to a truck. The majority of them do it by grinding the stump and tissues into smaller pieces with a high-speed disc with teeth. A cutting wheel having fixed carbide edges is common in stump grinders.

Let’s understand more about this machine and its process.

What is stump grinding

What is stump grinding?

Stump grinding is fairly a quick and inexpensive procedure to get rid of tree stumps in your yard. Basically, the stump is a powerful heavy machine with a spinning carbide-tipped steel wheel on the front which exactly looks like an extra-large circular saw blade.

Stump grinders usually vary in size, as the small grinders often run on gas and large ones run on diesel fuel. However, handling this machine is quite easy, as you can easily lower the wheel onto the edge of the stump and spin it from side to side, each action grinding deeper into the stump.

The entire tree stump, including the major roots below the stump, is eventually ground up into little wood chips, which is also known as mulch; it is valuable organic material that decomposes more quickly than any other kind of mulch.

What is the step-by-step process of stump grinding?

1. Inspect the area

Firstly take a walk around the area to make sure it’s safe to work and you also need to check whether there is sufficient footing for your stump grinder machine and operator. Before starting the machine you need to clear all the twigs, rocks, debris, and other objects around the tree stump. You also need to check the buried pipes, fencing, or metal objects, as they are dangerous for both the machine and the operator.

2. Safety first

While operating the stump grinder the operator must wear their respective safety equipment, because the stump grinder is extremely dangerous1 and can damage you easily. The safety equipment includes gloves, safety goggles, PPE, earplugs, sturdy steel-toed work boots, and chainsaw safety pants.

The majority of stump grinders incorporate safety measures. A cutter wheel guard and safety curtains are now standard on grinders to prevent flying debris from harming the operators. Even some have emergency shutdowns and/or presence sensors and gadgets for the operator.

3. Remove Rock and Plants from the Base

Using a shovel, the tree removal expert will remove rocks and sticks from around the stump’s base. Any rocks or sticks in the way will weaken the stump grinder’s wheel teeth, harm the machine, or risk flying up and injuring the operator. The operator may also cut the grass and remove any plants and bushes around the stump to improve visibility.

Trim the Stump Close to the Ground with a Chainsaw to Speed Up the Process

They will use the chainsaw to reduce the usage of the stump grinder and it also helps to cut down the stump as low as possible. Trimming the stump minimizes the amount of labor for the stump grinder, speeds up the stump removal procedure, and simplifies the job.

4. Being grinding the stump

When it’s time to use the stump grinder, the tree removal professional will approach the stump, lift the grinder wheel a few inches above the stump, go to the stump’s edge, lower the wheel blade, and begin cutting into the stump on a low setting.

5. Grinder until at least 4 inches below ground

They will continue stump grinding until the stump has been ground down 4 to 16 inches below the surface of the ground and the entire stump and roots have been cut away.

They will inspect the area after turning off the stump grinder and moving it away from the stump area to ensure the stump is entirely eliminated.

6. Clean Up

The worker will clean up the area once the stump grinding is finished. Extra wood chips will be shoveled and raked up to be utilized as mulch. And they will put the remaining wood chips back into the hole left by the tree stump.

7. Fill with Soil

Next, they will fill the area with soil, tamp it down, and lightly rake for an even surface.

8. Plant Seeds

Furthermore, you can also grow the grass over the tree stump area, you just need to spread the grass seeds over the soil and water the seeds. You can also plant vegetable or flower seeds or mulch the soil until seedlings and flowers are ready to be planted.

What type of stump grinders are there?

The tracked walk-behind stump grinder and the wheeled handlebar stump grinder are both user-friendly solutions. Before using both the stump grinder ensures that the machine has sharp teeth and ensures that the operator can make good time in any situation.

Let’s dive a bit more into the two styles of stump grinders. Both the wheeled handlebar and tracked walk-behind stump grinders are user-friendly options. Whether the job calls for a tracked or handlebar stump grinder, making sure the unit has sharp teeth ensures operators can make good time in any set of conditions.

Wheeled handlebar stump grinders

Wheel handlebar Stump grinders with wheels are small, easy to manage, and efficiently ground stumps to mulch.

Wheel handlebar stump grinders offer a well-balanced design and simple controls that ensure that they run smoothly. Handlebar stump grinders also have easy-to-transport raise handles and unique cutting technology that combine smooth grinding with low maintenance.

Handlebar stump grinders are a fantastic alternative to consider if users need to access stumps in tight spaces, such as near a house or on a site with several trees. Foldable handles on some models enable compact transport in an SUV, car, or truck.

Wheeled handlebar stump grinders

Tracked walk-behind

Tracked walk-behind stump grinders are significantly better on uneven terrain and may finish complex work faster, but they frequently require the use of a trailer for transport. These models’ track design evenly distributes the machine’s weight, making them perfect for domestic use.

Tracked walk behind

What are the benefits of stump grinding?

Stump grinding has various advantages, such as limiting the regrowth of an unwanted tree.

The aesthetic of your landscape will be improved by stump grinding. It also makes room in your yard for landscaping, patios, and outdoor furniture that would be impossible to use if there was a stump in the way.

Stump grinding enhances the safety of your yard while also freeing up space. Tree stumps can cause tripping and lawnmower accidents.

It’s worth grinding down that tree stump if you want a safe yard for your kids to play in, for you to stroll around in without stubbing your toe. And the old decomposing tree stumps attract mold, fungi, and pests, all of which can spread to other areas and try to kill other plants’ life.

Why should I hire a professional?

Stump grinders are quite harmful. Only individuals with prior stump grinding experience should attempt this task. For your own safety and the protection of your lawn, you should leave stump grinding to the professionals. Otherwise, you could harm yourself.

Trained professionals stump grinders have experience, and safety equipment to complete this task safely and quickly. They also utilize precautions to protect your grass from damage and to avoid dangerous situations like flying rocks.

Use this free service to find a stump grinding service near you

The fastest and easiest way to get 3 Estimates from the most affordable stump grinding services near you would be by using this FREE service. quickly matches you with the 3 tree surgeons voted #1 by previous users in your area.

  1. Scroll up to the top of the page and enter your ZIP Code in the blue form at the top of the page.
  2. Give us a few details about your stump grinding job plus some contact information.
  3. Your details are forwarded on to the closest three services all voted best priced who will also price your tree job.

IMPORTANT: There is no obligation to hire. This is a free tool and service to be used at your pleasure.

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Here are some important reminders

  • Protect yourself from flying debris by wearing protective gear.
  • When deciding which model to employ, consider the distance between the building and the stump.
  • Make sure that no bystanders are present on the job site.
  • When working with new users, keep an eye on them and the situation.
  • Renters who have never driven a large, tracked walk-behind equipment previously must remember how to operate the machine on slopes. It’s critical to operate on up-and-down slopes with the machine’s front end facing the hill and the cutting wheel always facing uphill.
  • While using the grinder don’t try to apply too much downward force, sweep too quickly, or grind too deeply too quickly. A side-to-side sweeping action with an inch of depth every pass is ideal.
  • Always read the operating instructions before use.
  1. Snohomish Tree Company, (2021) Is Stump Grinding Dangerous? <> Accessed: 19-03-2024
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.