Stumps: When To Grind And When To Remove

Stumps: When To Grind And When To Remove

So, you have a stump on your property. Maybe the tree was too close to your driveway, or maybe it was diseased and had become a safety hazard. For whatever reason, your tree is now gone and all you have left is a stump and roots. Like many folks, you want to be rid of this eyesore, but how? You might be thinking you want to remove the stump entirely, but, in reality, stump grinding is likely your best option.

Keep reading for answers to common questions about why and how you should to remove a tree stump.

Why should I care about the stump?

Stumps begin their slow process of decay very shortly after they’re separated from the tree that was once in your yard. This means that a rotting stump will quickly become home to home-damaging pests like termites or carpenter ants.

While you can opt to leave the stump and let it rot, the critters that are involved in that process might spread out to other plants and trees in your yard, or even invade your home. Removing the stump, or grinding it down, is the best way to avoid these pest problems.

You should also consider getting rid of your stump because:

  • The stump can get in the way of mowing and other yard care, and just takes up space in your yard
  • The stump and its roots make it hard for new trees, plants, and shrubs planted nearby to succeed
  • A rotting, decaying stump just looks bad

What’s the difference between grinding and removal, exactly?

Stump removal entails not only extracting the stump from your yard, but also all of the roots attached to it. As a result, you’ll need some seriously heavy-duty equipment—and, since the tree’s roots have probably spread out through much of your yard, you may end up doing some intensive labor and damaging your yard in the process. Generally speaking, full stump removal is only useful if you’re clearing a lot or otherwise don’t mind collateral damage or how the final product looks.

On the other hand, stump grinding is a simpler, more manageable route for homeowners to take, because it doesn’t involve pulling out every single tree root. As you might surmise, stump grinders grind down the stump, essentially shaving down the remainder of the tree until it’s sawdust. So, having your stump ground down will leave your yard with a hole, but one that is much smaller and more contained than with stump removal. 

So, should I grind or remove the stump in my yard?

Stump grinding and stump removal both come with their pros and cons. Choosing which route is best for you mainly depends on what you plan to do with the landscape afterwards, as well as how much time and money you’re willing to invest in the project.


As mentioned above, the stump removal process is the more intrusive process of the two. It involves heaving up the bulky tree stump with a winch, hydraulic jack, or tractor, and then digging out all the tree’s widespread roots. 

Obviously, removing the tree stump gets it all out of your yard, completely. Even if you grind the stump down several inches below the surface, the roots are still there and may cause issues with planting or with installing yard fixtures down the road. Complete removal solves this problem, and removes the risk of re-sprouting or rotting.

Removal also opens the possibility of planting a new tree in the same spot as the old one. It leaves a hole full of rich, clean soil that’s optimal for tree growth, and without old roots that could hinder your new tree’s growth. If you had to remove a favorite tree due to disease or decay, removal is a great option that allows you to plant a replacement. 

However, stump removal has a few drawbacks; mainly, it takes much more time, money, and effort than grinding a stump. Of course, the duration depends on how large and deep the stump and its roots are, but if you need the work done ASAP, stump removal may not be your best option. 

Stump removal can comparatively be quite costly as well, not only due to the duration of the project, but because stump removal is an astoundingly strenuous and costly process. This is due to the fact that the roots of a tree often represent more than 30% of a tree’s biomass. Even a half-inch root can require hundreds of pounds of force to pull from the soil, and an extensive root system can demand much more. 

If the stump is in a lot you’re clearing or an area where you don’t care about aesthetics, this last point probably won’t apply to you. But if the stump is in your yard or some place where aesthetics matter, cleaning up from a total stump removal involves even more work. Filling in the hole left in the ground and hauling the massive, cumbersome stump away can be a project in and of itself.

Stumps: When To Grind And When To Remove


To grind a stump, our arborists use a groundsaw machine to completely shred the stump down into small woodchips or sawdust that can then be easily removed. The machine can grind the stump to ground level, or it can grind the stump as low as one foot below ground level to create a hole you can then fill in. 

Grinding a stump is much faster and more efficient than removing it. The whole process typically takes less than two hours, and doesn’t leave much work for afterwards. The pile of chips or sawdust left behind are a quick clean-up, and are well worth the effort because you can use them for other purposes around your home and yard. 

Additionally, the hole left behind will be either non-existent or much smaller than with full removal. Filling in this small hole will also be much easier than the labor involved with filling in the giant hole from a fully removed stump and its huge roots. Many people are happy to find themselves relieved of doing or paying for this extra work.

Grinding a stump tends to be cheaper than removing it. This is, of course, because complete removal is a much more labor-intensive and time-consuming process and requires heavy-duty machines with greater power demands. Often, our customers in Memphis would rather go with this more economical option and put their savings towards other landscaping projects. 

Of course, stump grinding does create a bit of a mess in your yard with the sawdust or wood chips that are created during the grinding process. Since complete stump removal can be messy in its own way (a gaping hole and clods of soil strewn about your yard), you’ll need to weigh the costs and benefits of each technique as you decide between the two. 

By leaving the roots in the ground, you open your yard up to the risk of sprouting, which is when the old roots send up small new shoots. If you don’t want new trees in that area, fresh sprouts can be quite a hassle to deal with. The roots can also rot and decay under the earth, which is a natural and important process that nourishes the local ecosystem, but some homeowners and business owners may not want decaying matter and the associated fungi, bugs, and so on in their yard.

Stumps: When To Grind And When To Remove

Take care of stumps and your yard with Red’s Tree Service

Generally speaking, stump grinding is the better option for residential and commercial stump removers. It’s faster, cheaper, and less damaging to the surrounding yard than complete removal. However, stump removal has its own benefits, including the fact that it gets the whole tree and roots out in one fell swoop, thereby clearing space for new plantings.

If you want a stump ground down or removed from your yard, or advice on which would be best for your purposes, don’t hesitate to reach out to the experts at Red’s Tree Removal! We’ll be happy to assess your situation and give you only the best advice and service. Happy stumping!

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