Project Guide

How to Remove a Tree Stump

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Gather Tools and Materials
gather tools and materials

Before you begin, gather all the necessary tools and materials:

Remove Any Obstructions
Man digging around a tree stump
  • Start by trimming the stump closer to the ground with a chainsaw. We recommend digging up rocks around the base of the stump, as hard debris can damage the blades of your grinder.
  • This will also help speed up the process when you begin to grind the stump, especially for larger pieces.
  • Dull blades and missing teeth can also be an obstacle, so make sure to sharpen and replace these parts as needed.
Grind the Tree Stump
Man using a stump grinder on a large stump
  • Carefully review the manufacturer’s instructions for the stump grinder. Drive the teeth close to the stump and turn on the machine.
  • Keep the engine throttle in the slow position and raise the wheel of the grinder a few inches above the front edge of the stump with the brake lever.
  • Turn on the spinning cutting wheel and slowly lower it into the stump, allowing it to gnaw at the surface with sideways movement.
Dig Deeper into the Stump
Man pushing down over a tree stump with a stump ginder
  • Raise the wheel and move the machine forward a few inches. Keep repeating this movement until you’ve dug well into the ground and have removed the stump.
  • For nature-filled areas, like the one shown here, plan to dig about four inches into the ground. Grassy areas will likely require a few extra inches of digging.
Remove the Roots
A stump grinder running over tree roots.
  • Make sure to break up any roots that may be sprouting from the stump. 
  • You may need to accelerate the engine throttle to fully accomplish this. 
Turn off the Grinder
A stump grinder running over tree roots.
  • To turn off the machine, start by lowering the engine speed, then flip the emergency switch to power down the motor. 
  • Set the parking brake and wait until all internal components have stopped moving before safely removing the grinder from the work area. 
Dress the Stump Area
Someone sprinkling grass seeds over a patch of topsoil.
  • After you’ve removed the stump, you should cover or enrich that section of land.
  • For nature-filled areas, put mulch or wood chips over your newly-formed hole. For grassy landscapes, fill the hole with wood chips and add topsoil to help reduce soil compaction. 
  • Lightly rake the covered area and add a layer of fresh grass seed to the soil. Water regularly for healthy growth.
Stump Removal Tips
A tree stump in the middle of a yard.
  • Always wear the proper safety gear when performing a heavy-duty task like removing a tree stump.
  • Refrain from using the stump grinder in the presence of children and pets, flammable liquids, gas and dust.
  • Start your tree stump removal project early during the day and avoid working into the night when your visibility can be impaired.
  • After the stump is removed and the area is covered, monitor and maintain the space the same way you’d care for the rest of your lawn.