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Stump Grinding vs Removal: Which Method To Choose?

stump grinding vs removal

stump grinding vs removal

You are looking to remove a tree in your backyard. It has been there for many years, but now it needs to come out. So, what do you do? Where do you begin?

Once the tree is cut down to the ground, you now must decide if you want to remove the stump completely or just grind it down. Here’s a good look at both options and what occurs in stump removal and stump grinding.

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Stump Grinding

Stump grinding is a common process that takes place when a tree or large bush dies or needs to be removed for personal or aesthetic reasons.

Detail K2 DK2 Power Gas Powered Certified Commercial Frame Stump Grinder

How Does It Work?

To begin with, the tree is cut down to the ground using a chain saw or another tree cutting tool. Once cut down, a stump grinder is used to grind out the remainder of the stump. Most often the stump is ground to a few inches below the ground unless there is a need to grind it further down. The wood shavings that are left behind can be raked into the soil to level off the ground. It is not necessary to dispose of the shavings since they help to condition the soil.

Safety Concerns

A note of caution, if you are grinding a tree stump that is infested with bark beetles, or other types of fungus or disease, then it is highly recommended to pick up the wood shavings and dispose of them properly. This is because the infectious shavings can cause harm to surrounding plants or grass.

Ease of Application

Stump grinding is easier than stump removal. The stump grinding machine does most of the work, by making the stump disappear by chopping it into smaller wood shaving pieces. It is also less expensive than stump removal, which is why it is the preferred method for homeowners and professional landscapers alike.


  • Less expensive
  • Easier than stump removal
  • Can utilize wood shavings
  • Possibility of tree regrowing
  • Shavings can infect other plants

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Stump Removal

Stump removal is the elimination of the entire stump. Right off the bat, you see several things that are different between removal and grinding.

How Does It Work?

Removal is going to be a more invasive task and will require more time and more manpower. You will have to dig, either manually or with some help of some heavy equipment, around the stump to expose some of the roots of the tree. Once you begin to expose the roots, you will start to work the stump from the ground.

Depending on how old the tree is, how hard the soil is, or how deep the roots are, you could find yourself with a lengthy and physically demanding removal process. As mentioned, there is some heavy equipment that will help dig around the trunk. You can rent these pieces at a local hardware store or possibly borrow them from a construction friend.

Use & Disposal of Debris

When you begin removing a stump, you will accumulate a large portion of dirt. Be sure to save this pile so that you can fill in the hole that will be left once the stump is gone. Remember, you are removing the entire stump, roots and all. You can be sure that nothing will grow back in place. You can also be sure that you will have quite a mess to clean up and a large stump to try and dispose of.

Once the stump is removed, you can refill the area with the soil you dugout. If it was a diseased stump you will not have too much to worry about by doing so, because the entire stump is gone.

As for the stump itself, you have a number of options. You could cut it into smaller pieces and use it for firewood, or grind it into mulch for flower beds and other landscaping areas. Because it’s likely to be a large chunk of wood, you may have to pay someone to remove it from your property.


  • The entire stump is gone
  • Very little chance of regrowth
  • Require the use of heavy equipment
  • Need to dump the stump
  • Labor intensive
Stump Grinding Stump Removal
Leaves some of the stump Removes entire stump
Minimal labor Labor intensive
Requires a stump grinder Requires heavy equipment
Wood shaving clean up Refill with dirt
No stump to dispose of Dispose of stump

Other Factors

A few things that were not discussed in our review of stump removal or stump grinding is that there are chemicals that some use to facilitate the process of stump decomposition. The process can take some time.

If you are considering replanting in the area that you are working on, then the best option is to remove the stump and root completely. Tree stump removal clears the soil and surface and ensures that subsequent plantings will be free to grow.

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Choosing between stump grinding and stump removal depends on several factors. First, take a look at what you are trying to accomplish. Are you removing the tree because you are adding on? Or is it just an older tree that needs to be cut down? If it is the former, then you probably will opt for stump removal so there is no threat of the tree coming back at all. Whereas, removing an old tree for aesthetics or safety reasons may only require a stump grinding.

The most common way of course is using a stump grinder. It is a faster, more economical way of taking care of the tree stump. You will also have a quick clean-up and get some extra nutrient-rich mulch.

However, you decide to deal with the troublesome stump, do what fits your budget and is best for what you are trying to accomplish. We have given you to low down on the differences and the pros and cons of each so you can confident in your decision.


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