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Stump Grinding vs Stump Removal – Which Is Best?

Do you have an unsightly tree stump rotting in your backyard or property – but you have no clue how to remove it?

Maybe you’ve been planning the perfect backyard patio – or are sick of snow blowing (or lawnmowing) around the unwanted tree stump?

If so – then read this stump grinding guide! We’re going to share our best stump grinding tips so you can get rid of your tree stump without second-guessing.

We also share our top tree stump grinding FAQs for every situation – whether you have a tiny stump – or many.

Let’s begin!

Tree Stump Grinding Made Easy

rotating stump grinder blade
Stump grinders cut deeply into the tree stump and leave a sizeable cavity behind. Expect a hole in the soil afterward, ranging from 8 inches to up to 2 feet.

Tree stumps can remain on a property for years without causing issues. But in some cases, they can create significant problems! 

Along with the fact that a tree stump can be a tripping hazard and an eyesore, tree stumps can harbor highly destructive pests like termites and carpenter ants.

(There are few insects as worrisome as carpenter ants – especially if you see many hundreds – or thousands of them!)

If a homeowner decides that a tree stump poses a problem for their home, stump removal might be the right choice. 

There are numerous options when it comes to getting rid of tree stumps.

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10/03/2023 03:15 pm GMT

Stump Grinding vs. Stump Removal

push behind stump grinder
Some stump grinders are push-behind models. However, even push-behind stump grinders might cause soil compaction due to their weight. Try to avoid traveling over sensitive garden soils!

Stump grinding chips away at tree stumps to below ground level. But, stump grinding leaves the roots intact. 

On the other hand – tree stump removal removes the entire stump – roots and all.

In other words, anything that gets rid of a tree stump can be considered stump removal. (Stump removal is a catch-all term for removing a tree stump regardless of the method they use.)

All tactics of stump removal should prevent the tree from regrowing. Using an excavator or pulling the trunk out with a truck are both ways to remove a tree stump, so they fall into the category of stump removal. 

In comparison, stump grinding refers to one particular way to remove a tree stump by chipping away at the remaining trunk.

Usually, stump grinding involves using a walk-behind gas-powered cutting wheel stump grinder. Stump grinders are tremendously powerful and deploy quickly-spinning blades.

Stump grinding leaves behind a hole and collection of woodchips. Stump removal leaves behind a hole – minus the woodchips!

You will likely find that stump grinding is usually less expensive than tree trunk removal. But – both are pricey.

Read More – How to Build an Off-Grid Cabin! Even on a Tiny Budget!

Stump Grinding vs. Other Methods

heavy stump grinder in action
When the stump machine grinding is in full throttle – watch out! The stump grinding wheel brings woodchips, debris, and small rocks flying. Wear eye protection at all times – and stand clear!

Stump grinding is a method of stump removal that is particularly effective for preventing regrowth.

While all stump removal methods are supposed to be permanent, they don’t all work equally well. There are many factors in play regarding regrowth, including the type of tree.

Stump grinding has the benefit of being relatively fast. But – the same cannot be said for other methods. For example, burning a tree stump can be a tremendously slow (and risky) method.

Excavation is another popular method of stump removal but is not always ideal. Heavy equipment can take a significant toll on the surrounding areas.

For example – if you have a muddy garden? Then heavy equipment wreaks havoc and compacts your soil. Not ideal for growing crops.

It’s hard to be precise, even with a mini excavator. Excavation is also time-consuming.

Other popular methods include stump removal chemicals, which may take a while to work. (Some take a few years or more.)

But – we don’t like using chemicals to remove stumps! 

We prefer manually removing stumps – we’ve had mixed results using chemicals. 

We’re also worried about artificial chemicals running off into our water – and our crops!

That’s why we recommend stump grinding for stump removal.

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10/03/2023 06:25 am GMT

How Stump Grinding Works

A stump grinder is a piece of specialized equipment designed to break tree stumps down. It uses a grinder head that spins – like the blade of a circular saw.

The main difference is that the grinder head is broader than a circular saw blade.

Instead of cutting into the wood like a circular saw blade, the grinder head breaks down the tree stump into pieces fine enough to be used as mulch.

The grinder head moves back and forth across the surface of the stump to grind it down.

Whether a homeowner chooses stump grinding or some other form of stump removal depends on their landscape’s present state and their plans for its future.

A homeowner who is unsure which route to take should discuss stump removal vs. stump grinding with an experienced professional arborist.

Read More – How to Make Log a DIY Log Bench! 10 Free Plans for DIY Builders!

Stump Grinding FAQs

We know that stump grinding and stump removal is more tricky than it looks.

Hopefully – these answers help you get the job done without a fuss!

Should I Hire Someone for Stump Grinding or Do It Myself?

It depends on your level of expertise as an arborist! Also – whether you’re up for an outdoor project – or not. Stump grinding involves high-power equipment that spins and cuts with sharp blades.

So, if you don’t like using high-powered equipment, it’s probably easier to hire someone to do the stump grinding for you.

But – also consider stump grinding cost.

Stump grinding might cost you anywhere from a few hundred dollars to much higher – especially these days where contractor availability is fluctuating, big time!

The size and diameter of the stump determine the cost of stump grinding.

You can also rent a stump grinder at a local hardware store for fifty to a hundred dollars. Your local cost may vary either way!

So – there are a few numbers to crunch.

What Happens After Stump Grinding?

cleaning up mulch after grinding stump

After you – or a friendly arborist grinds the tree stump, there are a few things to consider.

First – are the remaining woodchips! The woodchips make excellent soil amendments for your garden soil. You can also use the woodchips as mulch for your flower beds.

You will also have a hole where your tree stump once stood. We recommend covering the area with fresh topsoil so you can fill in the stump’s cavity and prevent a tripping hazard!

You can also mix a handful (or two) of fresh grass seed with the topsoil if you wish.

Is Stump Grinding Better Than Stump Removal?

Remember that stump grinding leaves the roots intactStump removal removes the trunk and the stump roots together. So – ask yourself this question about the stump in question.

Are the stump roots negatively affecting your property? Or – is the stump far enough away so that it’s not a bother to your shed, home, foundation, well, septic tank – et cetera?

If the roots aren’t bothering anything, I recommend leaving them alone – stump grinding will do nicely. But, if the roots are causing trouble – I recommend stump removal.


We know the frustration of having unsightly tree stumps in your backyard – especially if they are uncomfortably close to your home!

We hope you now have an idea of how to tackle your unwanted tree stumps!

Let us know how everything works out.

Also – if you have tips or experience for tree stump grinding or removal, we love to hear them!

Thanks again for reading – and have a great day.

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