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What is a Stump Grinder?

Mary McMahon
Updated Feb 24, 2024
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A stump grinder is a piece of agricultural equipment which can be used to grind a tree stump into mulch or sawdust. These devices can be used in stump removal in a variety of environments, and they are typically available for both purchase and rental. Because a stump grinder isn't something one has cause to use very often, rental is highly recommended for people who just need to take out a few stumps, and have no intention of hiring themselves out to neighbors and friends for stump removal.

The stump grinder has a rapidly rotating blade which bites into the tree stump and shreds it into fine mulch or sawdust. Users can control the depth and penetration of the grinder by moving it as needed, with some models being self propelled so that they will continue to chew through the tree stump until there is nothing left to shred. Once the stump has been ground, the material can be used in composting, mulching, and other tasks as desired.

People remove tree stumps for a variety of reasons. Obviously, a large rotting stump is usually not a very desirable sight, so taking a stump out will improve the landscaping. It will also make it easier to till, mow, and perform other gardening tasks, since the stump will not create an obstacle in the soil. Stump removal also discourages the growth of harmful fungi which could spread, and it can prevent the tree from growing back. Some tree species, however, may sprout from the roots, so it may be necessary to grind the stump and take out the roots.

There are several things to consider when selecting a stump grinder to work with. Size is an obvious concern, as a big stump will need a big grinder. Some models come with diameter recommendations, and staff at hardware stores may also be able to help people select the best model. Closed vs open shroud design is another consideration. Open shroud grinders tend to work more rapidly, but closed shroud stump grinders are safer, because the blade is encased in a covering except in the area where it is actively grinding.

As always when operating heavy equipment, safety precautions including the use of heavy shoes, safety goggles, ear protection, and gloves should be observed. Additional recommendations from the manufacturer of the device should be followed as well for optimum safety, and users should always know where the on/off switch is and how to operate it. A stump grinder should be kept out of reach of children and people who are too weak to control the device.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon309391 — On Dec 16, 2012

If you recently cut down a tree and are looking to remove the stump for a low cost, you can rent a tree stump remover for the day and chop up all of the stumps.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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