One second your children are running around and playing in your yard. The next, one of them is on the ground screaming. They tripped over a stump and scrapped their knee.
No matter how many calming words you speak to them and bandages you put on the wound, it won’t fix the source of the problem. You need to get rid of that unsightly stump.
This job can be both annoying and dangerous even if you’re using the right tools for the job. You need to do a thorough amount of reading on how to use a stump grinder before you rent one.
We can kick off your research the right way. Check out this step by step guide to learn how to use a grinder.
What's a Stump Grinder?
Before we get into how to use a stump grinder, let's talk about what it does. They are specialized tools with strong blades that can drive a stump right into the ground. Without one, you would have to dig up the offending stump yourself, which isn't easy.
Digging a stump up will also leave gross holes in your yard. Stump grinders can get rid of the tree and leave a smooth surface behind that you can plant over.
There are a few risks involved with using one. It's not a good removal solution if you plan to plant another large tree to replace the old one. There's also a good chance that another tree could begin growing from the root system that was left behind.
Call Your Utility Company
Before you rent a grinder and set to work, you must give your utility company a call. You need to make sure that you're not going to take out any wires or power lines.
It could result in expensive repairs and bring harm to both you and the grinder. Besides in many areas, it's illegal to use a grinder without performing this crucial step first.
Renting Your Stump Grinder
Unless you have a serious stump problem, you're most likely going to rent this helpful removal tool from a store somewhere. There's a large range of sizes on the market. The one that you'll see most often is a 25 hp engine with a 16-inch cutting wheel.
This should be powerful enough to suit your needs. You don't need an industrial-grade grinder unless you have a seriously persistent stump. Before you leave the store with your tree stump grinder, make sure you ask an employee how to use it (you'll find that every grinder has its own unique set of instructions).
If you don't have a vehicle that's powerful enough to take the grinder home with you, most stores will deliver the tool to your house. You will have to pay extra to make use of this service.
So now you're probably wondering, "what should I be looking for when I go shopping for a stump grinder"? Don't worry, we've got a small list of the best grinders on the market.
To kick things off, let's talk about stump hogs. They have several attachments that make getting rid of stumps simple for beginners. You'll always have a full view of the tool and the stump that you're clearing out of the way.
This is both more convenient and safer for the user. The Stump hog is also created to give the user as much control over the tool as possible.
Powerking Stump Grinder
The Powerking Stump Grinder is a balanced machine that can get rid of most stumps in no time thanks to its grinding teeth. It's easy for beginners to use, but we will warn you that it's not the lightest grinder on the market.
Its engine is strong enough to handle most jobs. Keep an eye on the power cable when you're using this powerful machine. It's thin so, it's not exactly durable.
15HP Gas Powered Walk Behind Stump Grinder
This stump grinder comes with all the newest features that make it a breeze to use. Many portable grinders require at least some experience or explanation on how to use them. This one doesn't.
It doesn't matter how large the tree stump, this grinder can take it on with the smoothest glide possible. Even though it's quite hefty, it's still more portable than many other tools on the market.
Preparing the Area
Now that you've rented your grinder, it's time to prepare the area. First thing's first, get all children and pets indoors. You don't want them anywhere near the machine once it's going.
Once you're alone, grab a shovel and clear out any rocks and other debris from the area. The last thing you want is to hit a rock while you're using a tree stump grinder. Not only will it damage the blades, but it could fly up and hit you in the face.
Put on Your Safety Gear
The one rule with using any type of machine is "don't turn it on until you put on some kind of safety gear"! In the case of stump grinders, the first thing you need is a good pair of earplugs. The machine can be pretty loud.
You don't want to damage your hearing. The next thing you'll need is a set of safety goggles. Even if you clear out rocks and debris, projectile woodchips still pose a threat.
Padded gloves are less of a necessity than the two items above. As you can imagine, stump grinders give off a ton of vibrations. The gloves will keep your hands comfortable despite the harsh roaring of the engine.
Check the Height of Your Stump
Measure your stump. If it protrudes more than a few inches off the ground, grab a chainsaw to cut it down to size. Even though many machines can take large stumps, cutting the tree is the best way to use a stump grinder to its fullest potential.
It prevents the blades from wearing down quite as fast and will allow you to get the job done a little faster. Keep in mind that this is an optional step. It just makes things easier.
It's finally time to start the grinding process. Position the tool above the stump and fire it up. Slowly lower the wheel to the stump and move it side to side to chip it away.
Keep in mind that you may have to turn the grinder off several times during the job to adjust your angle. If you meet any resistance at all, don't try to brute force it. Turn off the machine and try again from a different position.
If after using the machine for a few minutes you begin to feel anxious about the entire thing, take the rental back to the store and get a stump grinding service to take over.
Cover the Area
Keep grinding until the stump is about 8 inches or so into the ground. You've now succeeded in conquering the beast. There is still one step left in the process.
You don't want to leave a gaping hole in your yard. That's more of a safety issue than the stump was. Pack the hole with soil and woodchips.
You can now add fertilizer and plant any seeds or flowers you want. Be sure to sprinkle water on the spot every day for the next few weeks.
Repurpose the Woodchips
Grinding down tree stumps creates a huge mess of woodchips. You can use some of them as mulch to refill the hole, but there's no way that you'll use all of it.
Package it and use it for your other flower beds or throw it into a compost pile. If you don't have any use for the leftover chips at all, consider donating them. There are probably several gardening organizations in your community that can use the mulch.
If any of your neighbors, friends, or family members have a garden, think about passing your unused woodchips down to them as well.
Get Rid of the Unsightly Stumps in Your Yard
Having large tree stumps in your yard isn't only an eyesore. It can also be a tripping hazard. The problem is that getting rid of stumps can prove to be easier said than done.
Even with the right stump grinder, you may struggle. Follow the steps that we've laid out here to make the process easier and less dangerous.
Now that the stump is gone your only obstacle is keeping your new plants alive and healthy. Check out the residential section of our blog daily for all the latest gardening tips and tricks.