How to Remove a Tree Stump

When we remove trees, the question always comes up, “What about the stump? How do we remove a tree stump?”
If the yard has berms and swales (like many of our desert landscaped properties), herbicide can be applied the to stump and it can be buried under a new swale. There is usually enough decorative gravel in the yard that we can rake up enough to accomplish this. This is the cheapest way to go and there is really no reason to do anything else, unless the landscaping won’t allow it.
Chainsaws don’t cut in the dirt. As soon as you hit a little dirt, the chain is dulled and it stops cutting. I mean it STOPS CUTTING! You can put on another chain, but as soon as you hit the dirt again, it STOPS CUTTING. Chainsaws don’t work to cut roots or stumps! So, if the stump needs to come out, we have to resort to other means.
We often work with an excavator to have stumps dug out. They use a backhoe or mini-excavator to do this. This is the only option if a replacement tree needs to go back into the same exact spot. If the replacement can be shifted even a little bit, there may be other options! A new tree can go in next to an old stump with no problem. Eventually the stump will decay and provide nutrients to the new tree!
OK, so if the stump has to come out and we can’t get an excavator’s big equipment into the area (a backyard with a tall block wall all the way around with only a 3ft gate,  for instance), then what do we do? We have to call in a stump grinder.
Stump grinders come in many different sizes and configurations. It would be unusual to find a place that we couldn’t get a stump grinder in to work. Below is a picture of a contractor we work with, who is using a stump grinder to take out a pine stump. This machine will fit through a 2ft gate! It really eats up the stump quickly and leaves only a pile of ground up wood (which makes a very nice mulch!).

Stump Grinder in Action!

Stump Grinder Cutting Head

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