Stump removal can oftentimes be overlooked when you’re focused on ridding your yard of a dangerous tree.  However, stump removal should not be the last thing you think about when it comes time to hire a professional arborist to cut down a tree.  Just like tree removal, there are many different ways to remove a stump, and sometimes that cost is not included in the initial estimate.  Below, you will find information you should know about stump removal before hiring a company.

Why Is It Important to Remove Stumps?

While a stump can be unsightly in a well-manicured yard, removing it will both improve the yard’s aesthetics and keep the surrounding trees healthy. When a stump is left behind after a tree removal, it can become infected with wood decay fungi. If left untreated, the wood decay fungi can spread to your other healthy trees. Stumps can also become a breeding ground for unwanted pests.

Hiring a Professional for Stump Removal

Tree removal experts have varying options for removing stumps from your property. The method they use should depend on the type of stump you have and the state of the stump. If you are having a tree and its stump removed, make sure that the company details how they will remove both from your property. To better prepare you for the stump removal conversation, below are some common methods that companies use:

Stump grinding. The best method for an easy removal is to grind the stump. A stump grinder has metal teeth that cut the wood into chips. This method works best on harder woods like oak, but a stump grinder can also be used on softer woods. When hiring a tree removal professional to grind a stump, make sure you ask the following questions:

  • Are they licensed and insured for stump grinding?
  • How deep will they grind the stump?
  • Will I be able to plant another tree or grass over it?
  • Will they leave or haul the wood chips?
  • Will they check for underground wires or pipes beforehand?

Backhoe/skidsteer. The most expensive removal method involves using a backhoe to pull and/or dig the stump up from the ground. This method is often employed if the surrounding area will be turned into a space for plants. Backhoes are large machines and can easily do damage to a well-manicured lawn, so experts recommend saving this method for new and larger yards. Skidsteers use the same method for small- to medium-size stumps.

DIY Stump Removal

Hand-digging. If you have a small tree with shallow roots, it could be easiest to use a shovel or axe to dig up the tree. This method works best when the roots are exposed after digging and then cut and pulled from the ground.

Chemical removal. If you want to expedite the rotting process in order to easily remove the stump, chemical removal is an option. This method involves drilling holes into the stump and pouring chemicals into the holes. While chemical removal will speed up the decomposition process, it still will take a while for the stump to break down, and it’s not as environmentally friendly as other options.

Fire.  Another way to rid your backyard of an unsightly stump is to burn it. It’s important to check with your local fire department and clear the area of any flammable debris beforehand. Once you’re ready to begin, cut the stump as low to the ground as possible, soften the stump with a chemical stump remover for a month, soak the stump in kerosene for a few weeks, and then build a fire on top of the stump. While the stump burns, make sure to attend to the fire and periodically stir the embers. The entire stump removal process can be time consuming, but it’s a good option if you want to remove the stump yourself.

Whether you choose to remove a stump yourself or hire a professional, it’s important to evaluate all options and pick the method that works best for your yard.

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Sources: HGTV; National Arborist; The Davey Tree Expert Company; This Old House.

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