A heavy duty stump grinder for removing a tree stump.

What Is Stump Grinding?

Stump grinding is the process of shaving down stumps until they are even with the surrounding area.

An arborist using a chainsaw for the final cut to remove a tree stump with a stump grinder machine

What happens to roots after stump grinding?

While stump grinding removes the apparent remnants of the tree, the old tree’s roots continue to grow underground, sometimes four, eight, or twelve feet beyond the stump’s location. These roots will naturally die after grinding, but it will take time.

Stump removal is the more invasive of the two procedures. It entails heaving up the tree stump and then excavating all of the tree’s extensive roots. As you can guess, getting the task done requires a lot of time, elbow grease, and robust equipment.

A cut tree does not necessarily mean a dead one. Even when its trunk and branches have been cut off, many tree species can remain alive in their root systems–these roots send up new shoots called suckers (root militants) that photosynthesize carbohydrates to help supply the main stem with nutrients while also keeping themselves going through chemical or mechanical methods such as excavation of earth around them for food supplements; these techniques are known respectively as “top kill” and “partial killing.”

Systemic Herbicide

Systemic herbicides are absorbed into the stump and carried to the roots via the vascular transport system, which is found in the cambium layer between the bark and internal wood of a stump. Glyphosate and triclopyr are two common systemic herbicides that have various brand names.

The solution should be diluted with a little more than 20% and applied to a fresh cut in the stump. The solution is sprayed over the entire surface of tiny stumps, but only has to be sprayed around the outer edge of big trees, since its concentration is focused on the cambium layer.

The stump should be kept moist during the period of application, which is typically 5 to 10 days. After this period, it can be assumed that there are no live roots left in the soil near the surface. Roughly two weeks after herbicide application, a clear ring will form at the perimeter of dead material.

Stump grind

Sucker Removal

Root suckers are a tree’s last-ditch effort to live. The roots will die without leaves and sunlight to nourish them, and without roots to receive food and transport it to the trunk. Root suckers may develop into mature trees that keep the roots alive if left unchecked, but they don’t have a chance to grow unless you cut

It can be difficult to keep up with the root suckers, especially when dealing with aggressive suckering trees such as tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima) and black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia), which grow in USDA zones 4 through 8. To prevent light from reaching the sucker seeds, cut them a few inches below the soil to block the light from getting to them.

What to do with sawdust from stump grinding?

Vermicomposting, or composting with worms, is another method of reusing tree stump sawdust. Composting worms degrade materials such as sawdust and wood shavings that may remain after stump removal, converting them to nutrient-dense worm castings that benefit the soil.

How to fill the hole after stump grinding.

Once the stump has been removed or ground to a depth far below the surface, the easiest way to fix the hole in the ground is to fill it with dirt and seed it with grass that resembles the surrounding area. Grass thrives poorly underwood chip mulch. If you want to cover the area with uniform grass, you should remove all wood chips, or at least reach the two feet. Fill this hole halfway with dirt that matches the surrounding soil. If your soil is somewhat sandy, for example, attempt to match it with equally sandy soil. After packing it down, add more dirt until it is about 1″ above ground level to allow for settling. After that, seed the lawn with grass that matches the rest of the property.

If you do not want to cover the space with grass but rather plant a flower bed or another kind of landscaping feature, be sure to research the type of soil required for your specific application. For example, organic growers may find wood chips or sawdust to be an excellent component for improving the ground in their garden. Because wood chips may bind nitrogen in the soil, you’ll want to either add nitrogen to the mixture or compost the wood chips for a season or two until they begin to decompose.

A heavy duty stump grinder with rubber caterpillar tracks being used to grind out the remaining tree

Planting after stump grinding?

While it is possible to replant in the exact location after tree removal, this is not desirable. Certified arborists often suggest relocating a sapling for various reasons, including the following: The soil may be depleted of nutrients necessary for the sapling’s development. Sawdust from tree trimming or stump grinding may disrupt the soil’s nutritional balance. The pathogen may be present in the ground in the event of illness.

What to plant over a tree stump?

If you want to plant in almost the exact location, you must carefully choose your seedling. Selecting a seedling of the same species is not always prudent, especially if your previous tree was sick. Indeed, if that is the cause for tree removal, you will need to choose a species that is resistant to that disease.

Select a native species that is well-suited to the growth circumstances in your region. Alternatively, you may plant a shrub or a hedge. Consult your county development office or an experienced certified arborist for suggestions.

Stump puffball, little mushrooms in stump in green moss and fall leaves in autumn woods

Benefits of stump grinding?

Tree stumps may be ugly, irritating, and even hazardous at times. If you have an undesirable stump on your property resulting from a cut, dead, or tree stump, stump grinding removes the stump. That is why stump removal is a necessary component of proper tree care and yard upkeep. Tree stumps may give the appearance of neglect in an otherwise clean, well-kept yard. Stump removal may significantly enhance the appearance of your home. It improves the property’s overall value and aesthetic appeal.

Along with aesthetics, space is critical, mainly if your yard is tiny. A tree stump may obstruct the usage of space that could be better used for other yard design components. Stump grinding reclaims that area, both above and under the earth.

Old broken tree laying on the ground with wood rotting around

Stump Grinding Costs

In most instances, hiring a professional to remove stumps from your property is the best course of action. It may cost more initially, but consider how much more costly it would be to rent a stump shredder first and then pay a professional if you cannot properly remove a stump.

The typical stump grinding cost is between 100-400 hundred dollars per stump, with a low price per diameter of 3 dollars. If you grind the stump yourself, you may hire a stump grinder for as low as 75 dollars for a quarter a day or 250-400 dollars for an entire day.


Stump grinding eliminates tree stumps without pulling them out. Homeowners in need of stump removal have discovered that it’s not only about maintaining a clean yard. There are many reasons to employ experts to remove stumps.

While most homeowners would have stump grinding performed solely for cosmetic reasons, there are other reasons to get rid of those stumps. Understanding stump grinding and why it is essential may assist you in making the best choice for your property.

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  1. Thank you for explaining that a tree stump can sometimes obstruct the usage of space in your yard. My husband and I have been thinking about redoing some of the landscaping in our yard, but we have this one old stump that is taking up a main spot in our plan. We’ll be sure to look into stump grinding a bit more and see if that would be the best option to help us with optimizing our space.

  2. It captured me the most when you shared that stump removal is an essential element of appropriate tree care and yard maintenance. I noticed some undesirable stumps in our property that I want to be removed. I should get a professional to do the tree stump grinding to get rid of them. Here is one Crissman Treeservice.

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