To grind or not to grind
Removing a tree in the garden is only half the job. To finish the project properly, it’s time to look at the back-breaking task of stump removal.
Well, it’s only back-breaking if you choose to dig the stump out by hand. Perfectly fine for small trees, bushes and anything that hasn’t been established for too long. But what about when your tree’s been in the garden for over 10 years, or the stump that’s left is the size of small chair? Here’s everything you need to know for effective stump removal.
What’s the difference between stump grinding and stump removal?
Traditionally offered as two different services, stump removal is the complete removal of the tree including the root ball, whereas stump grinding removes the stump to about 30cm below the surface and then the remainder is covered over for the root ball to decay.
But here’s the problems with keeping the two services separate.
If you only grind the stump to just below the surface without destroying the root ball, some trees are able to regenerate by sending out new shoots. And as the tree is now stressed, this may include sending up suckers in different locations along the root line.
If you’re removing the tree because its root system is causing damage to your property, traditional stump grinding and waiting for the roots to decay will not stop the problem quickly. Depending on the size of the tree, this process can take months or years, continually causing instability to fixed structures including fences, walls and pavement.
Max Tree Services is about doing what’s best for the tree and what’s best for the property owner. This is why we combine stump grinding and stump removal into one process. We’d rather do the job properly the first time so you can continue your plans for your garden, knowing the problem has been sorted.
Why do you need stump grinding?
Some people like the idea of a tree stump in the garden as a feature. However, there are a number of reasons why they should be removed at the time of cutting down the tree.
- Prevent pests – A dead tree stump is an open invitation for termites and white ants to make themselves at home. And if the root ball hasn’t been removed, that home can grow to a small colony very quickly.
- Prevent tree decay fungi – If only the spores stayed on the dead tree, rotting away the stump quickly. Unfortunately, that’s not the case with most decay fungi. As they are airborne, the spores can carry to other parts of the garden and with the right combination of oxygen, water and temperature, healthy trees can become victims and start to rot.
- Easy maintenance – The fewer obstacles you need to mow around, the easier it is to keep the garden looking neat and tidy. One less area to snipper or strimmer adds up over the years.
- Safety – If you’re not a regular mower or gardener, low to the ground stumps simply become trip hazards.
- Better space usage – If the stump has been in the garden for a while, it can be difficult to visualise how the area will look without it. When you remove the stump, you get a clearer idea of how best to utilise the space.
Is there a time when you shouldn’t stump grind?
If you’re on a sloping block and a significant tree is being removed, you may be advised to retain the stump to maintain the stability of the ground. In this case, the stump would be cut as low to the ground as possible, with the grinder removing as much as possible without destabilising the area.
What types of stump grinding are there?
There are two types of stump grinding available in Australia.
- Mechanical – a machine with large teeth spins itself against the stump turning it into woodchips. Width of machine is 900mm wide and suitable access is required.
- Chemical – poison is painted onto the top of the stump at regular intervals. Max Tree Services DO NOT use or advocate the use of chemical stump removal, due to the incidental damage that is done to surrounding plants, soil and native fauna.
What do I need to know about booking a stump removal?
When you’re speaking to somebody about removing a stump from your garden, here’s some key questions to ask:
- What method of stump removal do they use? See above
- What access requirements to do they require? Stump grinding machines come in different sizes. Make sure they can access your property and the location easily.
- Do they charge a fixed price or hourly rate? Where possible, you want a fixed price quote.
- Do they charge according to the size of the stump? Most stump removalists charge according to the circumference of the stump.
- Can you tell me about the root system of the tree? A good stump grinder will know approximately how far down they will need to go to destroy a large portion of the root ball. They should also tell you about the root system, so you know what to look out for and how to treat.
- Do soil conditions make a difference? Some stump removals in Melbourne will charge you an additional fee for working in clay, or if the ground is particularly wet.
- What is the policy for removal and disposal? Will all the stump and root ball fit in the hole or will it need to be taken off site? If removed from site, is this an additional fee?