When a large tree is removed, the stump of the tree is often left behind. However, tree stumps can be unsightly and even dangerous, and removal is often a priority for homeowners. Homeowners can use this cost guide for a better understanding of why removing tree stumps is important, the various costs associated with the process, how stump grinding works and the various factors that can increase or decrease the total expense.
Reasons to Remove
Unlike trees, which can pose a hazard to structures or become fire hazards, tree stumps can appear relatively innocuous. However, there are a number of important reasons to remove tree stumps. Stumps that are low to the ground can get hidden by shrubs or grass, but that only makes them more of a risk for children and adults walking through the area. Unsightly tree stumps can also significantly reduce a property's curb appeal, which can be problematic if the owners want to eventually sell the home. Additionally, stumps attract insects, and they can be a place for new trees to grow, restarting the process once again. Finally, mowing and trimming around a tree stump can be difficult and takes up valuable time.
How Stump Grinding Works
The most popular and effective way to remove a tree stump is to have professionals come in and use a commercial grinder. These machines are equipped with large spinning blades at the front, and they can quickly reduce even hardwood stumps to sawdust. The blades also work away at the roots in the ground, which ensures that the area can be turned into a garden or a lawn with no problems. The actual process of grinding tree stumps when equipped with a commercial grinder can be a very short task. However, the speed of the job depends on the expertise of the user and the quality of the machine.
While hiring a professional with a commercial stump grinder will typically be the best way to remove tree stumps from a piece of property, it also tends to be the most expensive way. There are alternatives, and these include using a chemical solution, burning the stump or digging it out. Some professionals will dig out small stumps by hand, but larger stumps have roots that are too large to make this a viable option.
Homeowners who want to save money and skip the professional option can choose to create a wood fire on the stump and burn away the wood, but this can be risky and create a potentially unattractive space in the yard. Chemical solutions require the least amount of labor, but the potassium nitrate can take weeks to soften the wood before making the stump easy enough to remove.
Preparing and Cleaning
It is important to realize that hiring a professional to remove a tree stump may not include many of the steps that come before and after the actual grinding of the stump. If a tree still stands, it will need to be removed before the stump can be accessed, and that will be an additional charge that requires different supplies. Older tree stumps that have vines or weeds growing on them can be hard to access, so homeowners should do their best to clear the area of overgrowth before professionals begin. This will speed up the process and make it easier to see the diameter of the tree stump. Finally, commercial grinding results in a huge amount of sawdust, and professionals will charge extra to bag it all up and haul it away from the property if necessary.
The biggest factor that will influence the cost of stump removal is whether homeowners hire a professional to tackle the job or try to do it themselves. While the average cost of professional stump removal with a commercial grinder is similar across the country, the following are all factors that increase or decrease that price significantly:
- Size of the stump: Large stumps cost more to remove. These larger stumps will also require larger grinders, which use more fuel and can be more difficult to load and unload from trucks at the destination.
- Geographical location: Stump removal prices tend to be higher in urban areas.
- Type of tree: Hard, dense trees are more difficult to remove, and they can therefore cost a lot more. Saws will have to work harder to eat away at the trunk and roots of hardwood trees like aspen, birch, elm, hickory and oak. Thin trees with soft bark will be much easier to grind and can potentially cost far less.
- Root system: Older trees with sprawling root systems are harder to remove. Commercial grinders need to have attachments specifically designed to eat away at the roots surrounding the stump, which can add on time and effort to the project.
- Soil condition: Dry soil or clay is tougher to deal with than soft dirt. If it has not rained several days prior to stump grinding, professionals may need to hose down the dirt in order to make it easier to remove. Even after this water treatment, hard soil will make it harder for the grinder to reach the roots. Compact soil could jam the saw blade, causing potential damage and the need for repair.
- Clean-up and preparation: Preparing hard soil takes time, which can increase the total bill from professionals. After grinding a stump, there may be piles of sawdust that can be unsightly. If the sawdust has to be removed by professionals, this will cost the homeowner more.