A stump grinder is basically used to grind a stump lying in your garden into dust. A variety of stump grinders are available in different stores and even online. They are equally popular among landscapers and gardeners.
Best Stump Grinder For The Money 2018
Up to 9"
Up to 10"
Up to 12"
Up to 12"
- One pull starts it most of the time
- Cuts surprisingly quickly
- 14 HP motor is built to last and supremely powerful
- Cutters are easy to remove for quicker sharpening
- Comes with a 3-year warranty
- Solid build
- Cuts 20″ tall and 9″ below ground
- Throttle cable is a little too long
- Thin electrical wires
Northstar Compact 160cc Honda GX160 Engine
- Highly portable and lightweight
- High output Honda engine
- Side discharge design
- Dependable 2 years warranty
- Can only remove tree stumps from 10 inches above grade to 9 inches below grade
- Can be noisy when operating
Why should you use the machine
There can be many a reason for using a stump grinder, the primary one being aesthetics. Stumps may accumulate in your garden due to the cutting of trees or other such activities. Such a stump occupying the corner of your garden spoils the beauty of the place and ruins all the effort you put in gardening. Imagine the amount of time and energy that you regularly spend in planting saplings, watering them and performing other tasks related to the maintenance of your garden. All this will go in vain if a stump somehow finds its position there.
Again, the stump may lie in an odd position where you intend to carry on some projects like building a patio or pathway and it thus becomes mandatory to get rid of it as soon as possible. One may also need to remove it if it is found to obstruct the view of the beautiful flowering plants or occupy the car parking zone. In short, if a stump is found to come in the way of anything constructive going on in the garden, it should be removed as soon as possible.
Another very serious issue that might crop up with a stump is the growth of molds and fungi growing on it which may indirectly affect the plant life in the garden. It is thus a threat to the pure and clean environment of the garden.
Stumps lying in the garden are potential tripping hazards as well! They often remain covered with grass, weeds, and moss and one might not be able to spot them while walking along the garden. As a result, they can trip over the stump and injure themselves.
Now, removing the stump as a whole would be a difficult task and require a lot of labor. It will not really be possible for you to handle the entire thing on your own. So, a great idea would be to grind it since the dust that will form will be easy to be disposed of.
So, buying a stump grinder is a great decision as it would help you to solve the different problems associated with a stump lying in the garden, courtyard or open space in front of your house. It is not wastage of money from any angle whatsoever; rather it is a wise investment.
Alternative Methods to Remove Stumps
There are a lot of methods available today that help you to get rid of your stump in some way or the other. Some of them are:
Disposing it off
Disposing the entire stump by using a truck or any other vehicle is a method that is commonly followed by many. However, this is not the right method to choose since it may leave the vehicle severely damaged. Also, lifting the stump is a labor-intensive task.
The rotting of a dead tree trunk can be hastened by certain chemical processes as well. The decomposition process is mostly carried on using potassium nitrate. The nitrogen-rich chemical fertilizers will help the stump to be decayed quickly and after this, it would be quite easy to remove the stump.
In this method, a hole is drilled across the middle of the stump and a mixture of chemical and water is poured inside. After the stump gets decayed due to the effect of the chemicals, it can be easily cut into pieces and these pieces are then disposed of.
The chemicals used here are also called stump killers. They are usually powdery or granular substances. They are more effective and long-lasting than their liquid counterparts (since they do not evaporate unlike the liquids) and are also easier to apply. They are commonly available on various online sites or local stores. A few examples are stump bromide stump-out, spectracide, and Tordon RTU. While spectracide is granular in nature, the unique thing about Tordon RTU is that it does not use any nitrogenous compounds; it uses picloram instead.
Some other examples include Glyphosates like Scotts Roundup Tree Stump and Rootkiller, Bayer Tree Stump Killer, Doff Tree Stump and Tough Weedkiller, William Sinclair Deep Root Ultra Tree Stump and Weedkiller and triclopyr like Vitax SBK Brushwood Killer.
However, the chemicals require time to work and throughout this period you need to keep the stump isolated from the little members of the family and pets. It may take about a few weeks to even a few months for the chemical decomposition to complete and it is not always possible to wait for it for such a long period.
Some people believe in removing the stump manually by digging the ground. It is done by digging a trench all around the stump and all the roots of the tree are exposed. It also involves cutting through the major roots of the tree which may damage the blades of the cutting tool used. Generally, a pickaxe is used to loosen the soil and to allow the soil to let loose from the areas under the stump. This method is wastage of time and requires you to put in unnecessary efforts. It can work for trees like maple and willow but not applicable to others. So it is advisable to avoid this difficult and cumbersome method and choose other alternatives.
Burn it off
You can burn out the stump by pouring kerosene, gasoline or other fuel into a hole drilled along the diameter. Allow the stump to soak the fuel which may take up to two weeks. After this time period is over, light a matchstick and drop it into the hole. The whole stump will be gradually charred.
But the problem with this method is it requires you to be aware of the fire codes or else you may be fined. Fire is also hazardous. Protecting yourself and your family members from the hazards of fire for the long time period taken by the stump to be completely charred is not easy. Also, the harmful gases emitted as a result of this process will pollute the air. Such air is unhealthy to breathe and you may receive complaints from your neighbors!
As discussed earlier, a stump decomposes on its own with time. To accelerate the process you may use organic fertilizer, soil, and mulch such that the bacteria can help the stump to decompose.
Apart from these, there are a few other methods as well. For example, smaller tree stumps can be removed by pulling them out with winches. Gardeners mainly use this method and use a good-size stub on the stump for leveraging. Such method, however, does not work for bigger trees.
The methods that we have discussed so far are time-consuming and have several hazards associated with most of them. They can also lead to a few other problems such as:
- Honey Fungus: These are the types of fungus that come from the Genus Armillaria. They mainly affect the woody and perennial herbaceous plants in your garden. They may form on the decaying stump and gradually spread to the other trees penetrating underground. They attack the roots of the plants and eventually cause them to decay. No one would want their garden to be destroyed by these fungi. Hence it is suggested to avoid those methods which involve the decaying of the stumps over a prolonged time.
- Suckers and Seedlings: Suckers and seedlings originate from shrubs, herbs, and climbers. If not untreated, they will grow into individual plants soon. If suckers and seedlings develop, you will have to use weed killers to prevent them from spoiling the beauty of your garden.
It is needless to say that the methods that we have talked about so far are all time-consuming, labor-intensive and involves high costs. Stump grinding, on the other hand, is a process that will help you to do away with the stump instantly. You can also get rid of a number of stumps within a very short time. Moreover, no harmful end products are produced, unlike the other methods. Rather the wood chips and mulch produced can be used to serve other benefits to the garden. Thus, stump grinding proves to be the most effective of all the stump removal methods.
How to choose the right machine
The availability of a number of options will leave you confused while looking for the best stump grinder to buy for your garden. So, over here we will help you to decide which one would be ideal for you. First of all, you should become acquainted with the different types of the machine.
This is commonly available in the stores. It is a conventional model and operator-friendly in nature. Naturally, it is highly preferred by gardeners. Here the handle associated with the wheel is basically responsible for moving the wheel back and forth unlike the track stump grinder where the operator has to move it back and forth on his own.
Here the operator needs to control the motions of the wheel in order to keep it working. He can also adjust the speed of wheel rotation on his own according to the requirements. This speed is basically dependent on the load applied to the wheel. So if you put too much of resistance, you will find the seeping speed to decrease. The approximate width of a track stump grinder is 34 inches which is much larger than that of the handlebar.
So which one should you ideally choose? Well, it depends on the number of stumps needed to be ground and the size of each one of them. You should also consider the fact that handlebar will be easier for you to take home while the track stump grinders will require you to make special arrangements for the purpose.
You will also have to consider the type of stump that you have. You need to examine the hardness of the stump first. A stump that is old enough is bound to become softer with time, owing to the rotting and decaying it undergoes with time. Again, the size of the stump plays a huge role over here. A stump that is larger in size can only be ground using a track stump grinder; a handlebar will find it difficult to reach higher stumps since it will pivot on its wheels. A track stump grinder, on the other hand, is capable of reaching a height of 35 inches since it has the cutting head located on a separate boom.
The choice should be made on the basis of another factor as well, which is the type of the area where it is expected to operate. If leaving marks on the surface is a problem, you cannot use the handlebar grinders. Only track stump grinders can be used here since they are capable of distributing the weight better.
Now that you have decided which one among the handlebar and track grinders you should buy, it is the time to focus on these details and choose the exact model of stump grinders:
Smaller grinders are easier to carry from the store to your home. They are also easy to maneuver and can thus be operated by anyone at ease. You can also carry them to the different parts of the garden easily. So small grinders are largely bought by homeowners undertaking small projects at their house which involves stump grinding. The best stump grinder commercial will usually find application in the industrial area where a large number of stumps of bigger sizes require to be removed within a short period of time. Also, there are many workers and laborers who can operate these grinders in a factory or any other industrial area.
The higher models come with brake wheels. These wheels help in exerting more control over the grinder and grind it with sidewise movements.
The number of stumps that a grinder can cut within a specified time is called as the cutting capacity of the stump and depends on the company and model under consideration. If you have problems deciding the capacity which you should ideally look for, you can consult a professional who will be able to guide you through it.
The proximity of the stump to your house or any other building should also be considered. It should be noted that the grinders have chances of throwing flying debris and stone chips which may cause damage to the property under consideration. So, the model should be ideally chosen such that these things are not likely to occur.
Ease of Operation
If you are a house-owner with no prior experience in this field, removing stump can be a challenge for you. So, go for a model that is based on a simple mechanism and is easy enough to operate for you.
The engine should be compact and short. It should be large in size, making the machine heavy. A smaller and lighter grinder is way easier to operate.
Price is another important factor to consider before you make your purchase. There is no point in buying grinders that are excessively priced. You should rather look for the one which will serve your requirements within your budget. However, that doesn’t mean you will get hold of something too cheap and end up compromising with the quality. It has to be remembered that the investment that you make here will pay you off in the long run.
The different parts
Just like any other machine, the stump grinders too have different parts and components which have their own functions. Here are the different parts explained to you:
The head is made from a one-inch thick steel disc. It is usually made of a flexible carbide and has steel bits clamped to the disc.
One of the major parts of the stump grinder is the blade. It works like a saw blade and the staggered teeth of the blade create multiple strike zones so that a chewing effect can be produced on the stump. The teeth are usually aligned vertically with the machine. The functioning of the blades can vary from one grinder to the other. In some, the stump is cut with repeated motions of the blade while in some others the blade works like a router and ensure a smoother cutting or chipping operation. It also helps in clearer removal of the stump with minimal damages being caused to the adjoining area.
Accessibility of the blades is another lookout before any purchase. The blades should be located in such a way that they are easily accessible. In some models, they are enclosed in a door for safety and begin to operate once the door is removed.
A stump grinder has a set of teeth attached to it where the desired quality is hardness and toughness. In case of the tough grinders, the teeth wear out fast.
There may be a clutch present in a stump grinder for making its operation smoother and minimizing the fatigue.
The wheel is another important part of the machine. It should be properly aligned and correctly placed for cutting each time. The cutting efficiency of the wheel determines whether it should be chosen or discarded. Some wheels have a pocket design which protects them against all odds.
The wheels should be concave in shape so that the chips produced are repelled away from the edge. Moreover, the dual tip design found in certain wheels helps in easy penetration.
The handle should be so designed that it is comfortable for the operator to use it. Also, the operator must be able to stay safe throughout the different stages of stump removal by adjusting the handle.
Advantages of buying your own stump grinder
The main reason for buying one instead of giving the responsibility to a professional is that the amount charged by the professional landscapers is too high and not easily affordable for anyone. The rate may vary from one agency to another and it lies between $90 and $150 for 24 inches of stump.
Some of you may consider sharing of grinders with your neighbors. There is no doubt that it saves money. However, you cannot carry on with your work independently since your schedule may not match. Another option could have been hiring them on rent. Here also, you need to pay a large amount of money to get it delivered to your doorstep.
If you are a person who needs the stumps to be removed from time to time, it will not be prudent for you to pay the rentals regularly. Instead, own the machine yourself and save money in the long run.
How to use
Now that you have got hold of a stump grinder, you must know how to use it. Using it isn’t that difficult. You just need to follow the steps as described below:
It has to be noted that the instructions of usage vary from one grinder to the other. So, you need to follow the manual guide that comes with your grinder. Over here we have stated some generalized facts that should be kept in mind irrespective of the model or brand.
Safety is a very important factor to consider while using the machine. They are dangerous and may bring you some hazards. So it is better to take necessary precautions while using them. You are advised to wear strong boots, long pants, gloves, and goggles while handling them.
Grass and Weed
You should trim the grass and remove the weeds all around the stump so that it becomes easier to lift the stump from there. However, before doing this, consider the plan you have made to decorate your garden so that the removal of weeds or trimming of the grass does not affect the basic plan of the garden.
If there are rocks lying on your way, use shovels or garden mattocks to remove them. This is a very important step since the rocks might damage the cutting edge or wheel of the grinder if not dealt with beforehand.
Also be careful of the other unwanted stuff and remove them before you begin your operation. The same applies to the different decorative items you have used for your garden and also the damaged parts of the yard. These things, if come in the way of the wheels, have high chances of damaging it.
Use the Chainsaw
Now that you are done with the basic steps, use the chainsaw to reduce the size of the stump, as much as possible. This will reduce the burden on the grinder and make your work easier. However, you should never try cutting it to the level of the ground since it may have many harmful consequences.
Use the Stump Grinder
Finally, it is the time to bring in the main machine. First of all, you have to raise the wheel of the grinder to a few inches above the stump. This can be done by using a hydraulic lever. Next, drive the grinder forward so that the wheel can be placed over the front edge of the stump.
After this, the cutter should be moved sideways to cut through the wood slowly. Now change the position of the wheel and cut through another portion of the stump. Keep on doing this, unless you finish cutting through the whole of the stump. The next step is to switch off the grinder after taking it at a distance from the stump.
Examine the area
Once you are done with the cutting process, examine the area where the stump was present very thoroughly. The things to be checked are whether you have cut the entire stump and whether you have cut at least four inches below the ground. This, obviously, forms an ugly hole in the middle of the garden that needs to be mended and merged with the rest of the land. This can be done by filling it up with soil, rocks or planting trees over there.
After this, use the chainsaw once again to bring it to a proper height which will be easy for you to deal with.
So this is the overall procedure that is generally used for grinding the stumps. Once you are through with the steps, you can easily grind a huge number of stumps lying on your garden and convert them into a mulch-like substance.
Here are a few things that you should keep in mind while operating it:
- The stump grinders have tendencies of throwing chips. If you are working near a building or any valuable property, take the necessary precautions of saving the place from the damages likely to be caused by these chips.
- It may also generate flying debris. You should take necessary precautions to protect yourself from that as well. Wear the boots, pants, gloves, and goggles as suggested previously.
- Prevent by-standers from entering the site of your project. Ensure that none of your family members or friends is present there to help you out or observe how the stump is being ground (unless they have some knowledge or experience in handling it and can actually help you here).
- If you are working in a team and have got first timers there, you need to be more careful about their safety and guide them through the necessary steps.
- The way you handle it also depends on the type of grinder that you are using. Handlebar, for example, should not be tried to overpower by using downward forces.
- While operating it, you should always stand at the rear part of it in order to distance yourself from the cutting wheel.
- The kind of terrain where you are working is another factor to consider. If it is a hilly terrain, you need to be more careful. This is because using the grinder on slopes is not easy. The front side of the machine should always face the hill while the cutting edge has to be kept uphill throughout.
Here are a few more safety tips.
What to do with the dust produced?
The dust produced is unsightly but being biodegradable, it can be dealt with in the following ways:
- Mulch: The mulch or tiny wood chips formed can be used around the acid-loving trees in your garden. As the mulch decomposes, it will acidify the soil and benefit the trees.
- Compost: They can also be used for preparing compost. This sawdust is brown in color and can be added to green nitrogen-rich manure obtained from the rotten fruits and vegetables from your kitchen to make the compost which is highly beneficial for the trees in the garden.
- Vermicomposting: Another way to deal with the dust would be to go for vermicomposting where the worms break down the material to form a nutritious casting for the soil.
So once you are done with the grinding process, let the resultant mulch or dust serve your garden in the ways explained above instead of throwing it away.
Up to 9"
Up to 10"
Up to 12"
Up to 12"
The technology used in stump grinders is a class apart from the tools and machinery have been used so far for doing the task. Their usage will not only help the house-owners but also the commercial contractors to handle large-scale contracts with ease. They offer much more reliability and flexibility in their approach. They are also versatile in their functionality and can efficiently deal with any obstacles coming in their way.
The smart house-owners, commercial contractors, municipal body heads, school authorities, and environmentalists are shifting gears to use stump grinders to serve their purposes. Now it’s your turn to get hold of the machine and make the place in front of your house better!