Removing versus Grinding Tree Stumps

After a tree falls or is cut down, the stump should be removed promptly to avoid potential accidents or to prevent the tree from regenerating out of the stump. Removing a stump also clears space for planting a new tree or plants. Stumps with an extensive root system can also cause problems for sewer or utility lines.

There are two ways to remove a tree stump: manual removal or grinding. Homeowners should be aware of the difference between the two methods to decide which is best for their property.


Manual tree stump removal involves physically extracting the entire root ball of the tree out of the ground. However, this method can be labor intensive and is more easily done by experienced professionals, especially when dealing with a larger stump.

The first step in manually removing a tree stump is to dig out the dirt around the stump using a spade or shovel to help expose the root system so the roots can be cut. Cutting through the roots with an ax or a saw can help provide leverage extracting the stump out. For deep root systems or large stumps, it may be necessary to dig a little deeper to reach under the stump and help maneuver and loosen it. By pushing the trunk, more embedded roots may be exposed, which also must be cut through. Manual tree stump removal is a repeated process of pushing the trunk, digging it out more, cutting roots, and pushing again. If the trunk won’t move, a chain may need to be wrapped around it and pulled out with a vehicle.


Tree stump removal can also be done using a heavy and powerful piece of machinery that grinds the stump into small pieces. Stump grinding is less labor-intensive than manual stump removal. However, a stump grinder is difficult to operate correctly, which poses the risk of injury or damaging water, power, or utility lines, so professional care is recommended.

The first step in stump grinding is to clear the area of any rocks that could damage the stump grinder from around the base of the stump. A chainsaw should trim the stump as close to the ground as possible to help make the process quicker. Using the stump grinder, repeat the process of slowly lowering the grinder wheel into the stump, cutting in a few inches, slowly moving the wheel to clear wood, and moving the machine forward and around the stump. Stump grinding is easier on the body, but there’s a higher risk of property damage or injury with improper hydraulic lever or control panel operation. Stump grinding leaves behind tiny pieces of wood that can be used as ground cover or mulch rather than a large stump and a big hole.


Removing a tree stump can be difficult, labor-intensive, and time-consuming, especially if the stump is large. It can also require the renting and operating of unfamiliar, heavy machinery. Hiring a professional tree stump removal company saves time, money, and physical labor. These professionals have the unique knowledge and expertise to efficiently remove the stump without damaging or injuring the surrounding landscape.

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