Stump grinding is something many people don’t think about when it comes to tree removal. Some people like the look of a stump. Other people assume the stump will be removed as part of the tree removal process. Yet others don’t give a tree stump any thought until they trip over it.

Stump grinding is a popular choice in Virginia for eliminating tree stumps. But while the stump grinding process seems simple enough, people have a lot of questions about it, such as:

  1. What is stump grinding? How does a stump grinder work?
  2. Why would I want to remove a tree stump?
  3. Is it better to grind a stump or remove it?
  4. Do stumps grow back?
  5. Can I replant after stump grinding?
  6. How much does stump grinding cost?
  7. Can I grind a stump myself?
  8. How can I get a stump removed?

While these questions are a good start, they’re only the tip of the iceberg. If you’re considering contacting a stump grinding service, inform yourself by reviewing these commonly asked questions.

ZZ Tree’s treaded, black Carlton stump grinder sits on a trailer secured with a silver chain, its vertical grinding blade resting on diamond plate.

What is Stump Grinding?

When a tree is cut down, the stump is the leftover rooted portion. Tree removal services can cut a tree close to the ground, but some parts of the stump will always remain. Even the most skilled tree removal service can’t make the stump disappear just by cutting down the tree.

A standard solution for eliminating the stump is grinding. This process chops the stump into small bits using a machine called a stump grinder. This piece of equipment varies in size, from huge grinders that can get rid of big stumps (8 feet or more across!) to small enough to fit through a standard thirty-six-inch wide gate to easily access stumps in backyards and narrower spaces.

Whatever the size, the machine uses a spinning wheel with carbide-tipped teeth that grinds the stump wood into fine mulch. Depending on the stump’s location and surrounding obstacles, a stump grinder can grind down the stump to as much as 6 or more inches below the surface. Some roots will remain, but they are unable to grow and will decompose over time.

Why Do People Grind Stumps?

People have a variety of reasons for grinding down a stump on their property. The most common reasons are:

  • Improved curb appeal – Stumps can distract from an otherwise neat and well-tended yard. Stumps may also dissuade a potential homebuyer if they are concerned with the work and expense of removing it.
  • Safety – Stumps create an avoidable trip and fall hazard. This is especially relevant where small children and pets are involved, but adults are also at risk.
  • Avoiding Infestations – Stumps left standing will soon die and begin to rot. These stumps become havens for termite infestations which could spread to nearby homes, or they can become a home for carpenter ants.
  • Preventing Regrowth – Some tree stumps will quickly start to put out new growth that can develop into something that looks like a huge, weirdly-shaped bush or even grow into a new tree.

Is it better to grind a stump or remove it?

While stump grinding chips away the stump from the top down, stump removal involves yanking or digging the whole thing, roots and all, out of the ground. Which option is best for you depends on how you want to use the space where the stump was and how much mess you’re willing to tolerate.

Stump grinding has several advantages over stump removal:

  • It’s more cost-effective than stump removal
  • It can be done with less heavy equipment, so has less impact on the rest of your landscape
  • Stump grinding is quicker than stump removal. Stump removal leaves much larger holes that need to be filled and can tear up your lawn and landscaping as the roots are pulled out
  • Removal by pulling out a stump will also pull out anything the roots are attached to, including pipes and utility lines

However, if you want to immediately plant another tree in the same location, stump removal may be your best option.

Many small green shoots grow from the top and side of a stump left after a tree removal.

Do stumps grow back?

Stumps left alone can send up new shoots. This may be an impressive display of nature’s survival instinct, but you’ll be wondering why you removed the tree in the first place.

Properly ground stumps will not grow back. When stump grinding is done correctly, you don’t have to worry about new growth.

Can I replant in the hole left by stump grinding?

Since stump grinding does leave some root material behind, immediately planting a new tree in the same location isn’t recommended.

The good news is that you can still sow grass seed or resod the area without any trouble. Landscape plants and shrubs can also be planted in the area around the ground out stump.

How much does stump grinding cost?

On average, stump grinding is much more affordable than stump removal. In addition to regional price differences, other factors impact the cost of grinding stumps:

  • Tree Type and Size – Services sometimes charge by the hour or base their fee on the stump’s size. In general, hardwood stumps will take longer to grind thoroughly. Hardwoods include:
    • aspen
    • birch
    • elm
    • hickory
    • oak
  • Terrain – Harder soil will extend the duration of the job. Accessibility can impact the cost if the stump is difficult to reach or near underground utilities
  • Scope – Stump grinding service will usually be affected by the number of stumps to remove; more stumps usually translates into a lower cost per stump.
  • Waste Removal – Ask about waste removal when you schedule your stump grinding. It’s not usually included (most stump grinding companies will rake the stump grindings into the hole left by the stump)
  • Root Removal – This is a separate service and will influence the total price.

Can I grind my stump myself?

Grinding your stump as a DIY project is an option only for smaller-diameter stumps. Consider the following before deciding to grind the stump yourself:

  • Safety – Are you comfortable using the equipment? Do you have the right protective gear for yourself and screens that can be set up around the work site to prevent rocks and stump pieces from hitting nearby structures (we’ve seen a lot of shattered windows from DIY stump grinding jobs!). Also, make sure you call the state of Virginia “dig service” to survey and identify utility lines before you begin.
  • Difficulty – Stump grinding is labor intensive. If you estimate the job will take half a day, renting the equipment for a whole day is better to build in any extra time the job might take.
  • Hidden Costs – Considering rental rates for a stump grinder, fuel costs, and other gear you may need to purchase or rent (such as a trailer to get the grinder to the work site, safety gear, and additional tools), hiring a tree service company will often be more cost-effective.

Call Us Today for Stump Grinding in Central & Northern Virginia

We’re third-generation tree professionals, and we’re ready to help you with post-removal stump grinding or any other tree service you need in Richmond, Chesterfield, Falmouth, or other Central Virginia areas. Contact us for your free stump grinding quote today!

About ZZ Tree

We’re a 3rd generation tree care company with deep roots in the central and northern Virginia region providing the honest, knowledgeable service you deserve. We always offer straightforward pricing, free quotes, and the responsive, caring service you deserve from a quality tree care company.

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