How to properly grind down a tree stump the right way with a stump grinding machine. There are several sizes of stump grinding machines, from the smaller units that you can fit onto your back, and carry up a slope or hill, and grind down medium to small size tree stumps. And then there are medium size stump grinders, that you can generally rent from your local rental yard store. Then their are bigger size machines, that need more room, and usually charge more, but can do them faster. You also have giant size machines that can blow you away, if you can find a clip on YouTube or cable television.
We will assume you are going to do it yourself, and you rent a standard size 13hp stump grinding machine. The front of the machine has a blade almost like a circular saw, but with carbide teeth. These teeth are very hard, and if you want to grind them down yourself, you need a green grinding wheel to do that.
The one of the biggest hazards of stump grinding, is one of the teeth can fly out, and I own 2 stump grinding machines, with a small part time stump grinding business in San Diego. And I have saw what a stump grinding tooth can do when it comes out. The guard over my machine, is metal, and the strait tooth shot right threw the metal, and it was a perfect square, with protruding metal, just like a bullet hole. So you have to make sure the teeth are totally tight. Check for any loose teeth, and best to tighten each one, especially if it is a rental, the guy at the shop might not be the brightest light in the shed, so take it open yourself, the teeth coming out is the most dangerous thing just about.
The 2nd most challenging thing is small rocks. If your stump is in dirt that has small rocks, your best to try and dig out as many as you can, before you start. You would want to put up plywood walls around your work area, so no rocks or small chips fly out, especially if you are working around windows or delicate items.
Most cities have a telephone number that you can call if you want to dig in your yard. Most stump grinding usually goes down about 6 inches below the grade, so you can put in your concrete, sod, new grass, mulch, new yard, or whatever, and the machines can go down deeper than that, but the more deeper, the more harder to control the machine.
Once you have the machine in front of the stump, set the blade up on the stump, and then make sure the wheel is off the stump, and start the machine, each machine will be different, some will be self propelled, some with brakes, some with different things. One stump grinding machine I have is for going up close to the house or fence, and getting it to the side, without hitting things.
Stump grinding is hard work. You will sweat if you have a pretty good size stump. It’s also fun to stump grind. You just have to slowly slide the machine back and forth, over the stump, and slowly start watching the stump turn to butter from the machine. It will shoot out your side discharge, and pile up.
Depending on what type of tree it is, hardwood or softwood, and how sharp the teeth were from the store you rented the machine from. In San Diego, the average price to rent a machine is roughly $125. We grind average size tree stumps for this price, and the home owner does not have to go and rent the machine, pick it up and bring it home, about 250 pounds for an average 13hp machine, and then you still have to do the work, and hope something does not go wrong with the machine, because they are just like a Harley Davidson, they vibrate and things come loose, because stump grinding is a tough job, some stumps just don’t want to come out sometimes, and you end up swearing at the thing, and sweating your ass off, and you get the job done.
So thinking you are saving money by renting a machine for $125 and doing it yourself, you might want to think again. We are loaded and ready to go pretty quick most of the time. If a contractor is putting in a new fence, or sidewalk, he usually can’t do it with stumps in the way, and needs it done quick, but we charge the price of renting a machine, and since we are cheaper than anyone we believe, and will beat any price, if they just ask us, or offer us a price to do a certain job, I don’t usually say no, and veterans get a better deal, 10% off.
You can see what an average stump grinder looks like at Stump Grinding Hampshire.
The mulch and saw dust you have afterwords, is great for the yard, is biodegradable, and if mixed properly, is great soil amendment, and looks great around bushes and shrubs. A stump will usually make about 3 times the size of mulch or sawdust, so you will get a lot.