STUMP GRINDING

Although it may seem like a simple enough request: “Hey, can you make my stump disappear?” the stump grinding process actually involves a lot of preemptive planning. It can be helpful for clients to start with their end goal in mind and work backwards from there. This requires an understanding of the process and knowledge of the possible outcomes along with their respective advantages and limitations. A stump grinder is a machine with a large, circular narrow blade or cutter wheel. It is small enough that it can be maneuvered into position by a single CVTS-L arborist or landscaper, but it is large enough that clearance and right of access may be an issue (the arborist or landscaper will be able to identify these issues during the initial visit). Once in position, the stump grinder’s cutter wheel is pressed directly against the stump, and the wood fibers of the sump are ground into stringy stump grinding debris. With the detailed descriptions and photos outlined below, we hope to better assist our clients in the decision-making process.

Free Estimate

During a free estimate, one of our estimators will visit your property to assess the stump and its associated visible surface root system. The strategy outlined in the estimate will be developed around the client’s expectations of the finished project, and the estimator will take into consideration the client’s budget and how much work the homeowner wishes to do themselves.  Upon acceptance of the estimate, a stump grinding appointment will be scheduled, and between the estimate and the appointment we will make the necessary arrangements on our end which could include consulting with the underground utility companies and scheduling around inclement weather.

Stump Grinding Decision #1:

How deep does the stump need to be ground? The depth of stump grinding is determined by what will replace the stump. The ranges provided are an estimate, and actual depths can vary based on specific site requirements.

STUMP REPLACEMENTDEPTH (relative to grade)
Grass/LawnApprox. 6-8”
Tree/ShrubApprox. 12-36”
Driveway/Construction*Determined by contractor

Stump Grinding Decision #2:

What are my cleanup options? Clients have several cleanup options based on their intentions for the site and budgetary constraints.

SOLUTIONRESULTCOST
CVTS-L leaves all debris as-is on site“No cleanup” option. Requires more effort on part of the homeownerLeast expensive
CVTS-L backfills it into the holeThe stump debris is pushed back into the stump hole making the grindings level with the grade around it – we haul away excess grinding debrisMid-range price
CVTS-L leaves the hole emptyAll stump debris is removed – the hole is then ready for top soil or replanting grass/treeMost expensive (on account of the added material removal and labor associated with that)
CVTS-L custom landscaping optionsAdding topsoil, sowing grass seed, straw matting or loose straw. This could also include planting a new tree. 

Cleanup Options

1. No Cleanup.

When clients choose this option, we leave the stump grindings on the property “as-is.” There are certainly some good reasons to choose this option – it is the least expensive option and it appeals to the do-it-yourselfers who only need to hire us for our specialized equipment – but it is critical that people who are interested in this option understand exactly what it is that they are signing up for. The remnants of stump grinding are stringy stump grinding bits of acidic, heavy and dense wood fibers that could also contain stones, roots, native subsoil, top soil and anything else that the tree and roots are growing in. Stump grindings are not clean woodchips or clean mulch, and you shouldn’t expect to be able to use the stump grindings elsewhere on your property. Additionally, a large-sized tree stump can produce enough stump grindings to fill the beds of several pick-up trucks. This option has the lowest financial cost, but requires the most effort and manual labor on the part of the homeowner.

2. Backfill the grindings into the hole.

We take the stump grinding debris and backfill it into the stump hole, making the stump grindings level with the grade around it. We then haul away the excess stump grinding debris. This option is cleaner looking than leaving it “as-is,” and it is safer than leaving an empty stump hole on the property which is the next option. However, additional work will be needed later if the homeowner decides to plant grass or plant a replacement tree in this same spot. This option is generally regarded as the mid-range price option because it requires more time and effort than the no cleanup option, but less work than removing all of the stump grindings and leaving the stump hole empty option.

3. Leave the stump hole empty.

We remove all of the stump grinding debris and leave the stump hole empty. The stump hole is then ready for topsoil for replanting grass, shrubs or even another tree. This option is generally more expensive than the other options because it requires the most time and labor for cleanup. Unlike the previous options, though, the empty stump hole is ready for whatever the homeowner wants to do next in that area.

4. Custom landscaping options.

A. Renovating with topsoil.

Filling the stump hole in level with topsoil has all of the advantages of backfilling the hole (safety, cleanliness) with the added bonus of being site ready whenever you are ready for the next phase of your landscaping project.

B. Planting grass.

If you already know that you want the stump to be replaced with grass so that it seamlessly matches the rest of your lawn, we can fill the stump hole in level with topsoil and plant the grass seed. The grass seed would most likely be covered in loose straw, straw netting or PennMulch to help assist with successful germination.

Loose straw

Straw netting

PennMulch

C. Planting a new tree or shrub.

Sometimes the unwanted tree needs to be removed completely because it is either unsafe, unhealthy, or inconvenient and you may want a new tree to replace the original tree to complete the landscape renovation project.

What happens after the stump is ground out?

For many tree species, the process ends here. However, for other trees (notably fruit-bearing trees, honey locusts, ailanthus, sweet gums, mulberries, hybrid poplars, bamboo and other invasive species), the roots will not only survive but continue to sprout/grow. To the homeowner it will seem as if they had removed one tree only to have dozens of root sprouts/suckers take its place. Unfortunately, at that point, there isn’t much that can be done. The homeowner will have to keep the sprouts cut off or mowed over, and, eventually, they will die off (which can take several years!). Preventing roots sprouts requires immediate herbicide treatment (by a State Certified Applicator or Registered Technician, which we have on staff). The treatment needs to be applied within an hour – we recommend within a half hour – of the initial tree removal. The herbicide treatment then has to translocate/move through the root system for a day or two to kill the remaining unseen, underground root system. Get to the root of stump grinding with our in-depth blog or see if our stump grinding FAQ answers any of your questions. When you are ready, contact us to discuss your next stump grinding project.

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