Whether you have had trees cut down as part of a landscaping project, because of storm damage or due to a disease, removing the leftover stump is not an easy task. Often, the tree service that cut down your tree does not offer stump removal. Make sure that during your contract negotiations that you ask if their service includes the stump removal to avoid any misunderstandings.
It is possible to rent a stump grinder from an equipment rental company and take care of the stump yourself. But if you are not experienced with this type of job, it is not a good idea. The equipment can be very dangerous if not used properly. This is a job that you should take off your to-do list and hand over to an expert.
What Should I Look For When I Am Hiring a Stump Grinding Service
There are several things that you should consider when hiring a stump removal company. First, look at the reputation of the company. Ask around to see if others have been happy with their work. Your landscaper should be able to suggest a professional tree removal service.
Second, make sure that they are insured. Many fly-by-night inexperienced tree removal companies are not covered by insurance and you could be stuck holding the bill if there is any damage to your property.
Third, deal only with professionals. If you deal with a professional company you will get better results. Keep in mind, if your estimate sounds like a deal that’s too good to be true, it usually is.
How Are the Stumps Removed?
Stumps are removed by using specialized equipment. The stump removal equipment systematically reduces the stump to wood chips. The stump grinder reaches between four inches to a foot below ground. The resulting wood chips are often used to fill in the hole left from the stump being removed and the excess can be used as mulch. Depending on the age, size and the development of the root system, there may be more work involved to remove the roots.
Stumps can be unsightly and can make an otherwise well-maintained yard look unkempt. They can also be difficult to mow around and create a hazard. Take the time to ask the appropriate questions when you receive your estimate to make sure that your needs will be met and that you understand what services are covered. To achieve the best results, hire a professional stump removal and tree service that is insured and well-recommended.
From the householders view of his/her garden, why do you want to remove tree stumps anyway? Most of us are “green” conscious nowadays, and want to preserve our environment don’t we? Tree stumps do provide a natural setting, and promote insect life which is the first rung in the food chain ladder isn’t it? By saving a tree stump you could be allowing all sorts of fauna to feed in your garden. If a stump is big enough you could also make a feature out of it, like a seat, a table, or a carving of some sort.. I read somewhere of a stump supporting a TV or radio mast. Stumps can be useful, so why get rid of them!
OK, now for the practicalities of “real world” garden keeping:
Any decaying wood in a garden environment is a sure invitation to fungal attack which may be the dreaded honey fungus. Both the Royal Horticultural Society and the Forestry Commission advocate stump removal
You have plans for your garden and stumps are in the way
You have damaged your lawn mower because of a stump
Stumps are a trip/slip hazard
You want a clean, unblemished look to your lawn
You want a flat, level surfaced dig it out.
Now you have decided stumps must go, how are you going to do it? Well, you could dig it out. I won’t begin to describe the obvious strain on yourself. So, here are your other options from practical to ridiculous:
Chemical Degradation. Practical if you are patient with time on your side. You could assist the decaying process by drilling deep holes and fill them with potassium nitrate (saltpeter) to accelerate rotting. After a few months you could axe out the rotten wood. Don’t try this on a freshly cut stump. It will only work on old seasoned stumps. (more delay) A potentially dangerous followup would be to pour paraffin or kerosene (never gasoline) to soak into the stump remains. Wait until the liquid completely penetrates, (this could take weeks with even more delay) and set it alight. Having a large smoldering ember in your garden will need to be supervised.
Accelerated Natural Decay.Practical, with even more time on your side, as this is a process which can take a number of years, and requires monitoring. It involves enriching the natural resources around a stump to promote the decay process through soil aeration, stump aeration (exposing a larger stump surface area shielded from the sun). This will maintain moist conditions, complemented by the addition of soil nitrates.
Mechanical Extraction. This is practical for a small number of small stumps,( If you don’t mind the large footprint it leaves behind on the landscape.) This may be impractical for large stumps owing to the size of the equipment needed, and only If you have the approach access, and space to manoeuvre heavy pulling/lifting equipment. Trenching or soil sawing machinery will be useful to sever stump roots around its periphery. Pre-saturating the soil with water will greatly reduce the amount of extraction force needed but does create messy conditions
Burning. This is practical, but never totally successful. Stumps must be seasoned and dry before they will sustain burning. Some problems with this requirement is the moist soil conditions under the stump, and bark covering over the stump which retains moisture within.
Water or Air Jetting This is impractical for the small garden. Water jetting is a very messy operation with soil saturation, and will also require a means to extract the stump in such conditions. Air jetting is less messy with just a shroud over the stump to control air-born dust, but does require a powerful, commercial, high volume compressor, and high pressure/velocity hose with nozzle.
Blasting. This is effective but ridiculous here in the U.K.
Stump Grinding. A practical means of stump removal for all sized gardens with the availability of four types: handlebar machines; self-propelled machines; tow-behind machines; truck/tractor mounted machines Unless you have a large garden with good access, the most practical stump grinders are self-propelled, handlebar or small stump grinders designed to be hand-held. Stump grinding machinery is inherently dangerous and should only be performed by trained operatives. When you decide to call in a professional stump grinder be sure to first have all the details he will need to size up your requirements. They will include
the number of stumps
how wide your gate openings or side passages are to access the stumps
if there are any sharp right-angled turns the stump grinder will need to make
if the stumps are on level ground at the same level as your house
if there are any above ground obstacles near the stumps (fencing, buildings etc.)
if there is any below ground utilities buried near the stumps
To conclude: Whether or not you are the lucky possessor of a natural woodland within your garden, tree stump grinding is the answer to properly manage your precious garden by minimizing likely fungal attack.