How to Use a Stump Grinder

A tree stump.
What You'll Need
Stump grinder
Working boots
Protective garments and gloves
Protective eyeglasses
Safety helmet and face shield
Ear plugs

A stump grinder may be huge and a bit menacing to look with its serrated rotating disc but it is not difficult to use. The teeth or the rotating disc of the machine is responsible for grinding stumps. Most types of stump grinders have teeth attached to a hydraulic lever and can be moved up, down, and from side to side. By following these steps you can safely and effectively use a stump grinder.

Step 1 - Trim the Tree Stump

Before anything else, you need to trim the tree stump close to the ground. It is best if you can chop off most of the stump so that the remaining part is already at ground level. Trimming the stump will reduce the amount of work for your stump grinder.

Step 2 - Clear the Area Near the Sump

You need to remove large debris and rocks near the stump to avoid damaging your grinder. Your grinder is meant to eat tree stumps, not rocks or other hard objects.

Step 3 - Bare the Roots

If you want to clear your yard, you need to remove the surface roots of your tree together with the stump. The surface roots of your tree can run several feet away from the trunk so before you start chopping away at the drunk, locate all the surface roots. Grind these roots together with the stump.

Step 4 - Gear Up

You need to put on your safety gear before you start using the stump grinder.

Step 5 - Start Grinding

Position the wheel of the grinder right above the stump and turn the power on. Most types of grinders make deafening noises so make sure to wear your earplugs. After turning the power on, lower the wheel of the grinder until it touches the stump and let the machine eat the stump. You may use the level on the machine to move the wheel from side to side to demolish all the remaining portions of the stump. Let the machine settle into the stump and create a hole about 10 inches deep. Make sure that you keep your feet out of the way as you let your grinder dig into the stump.

When grinding hardwood, never force your machine into the stump. Instead, let the blades of the machine skim through the top of the stump and feed on it. Yes, this process may take some time to finish but this will help prevent damage to your grinder.

After grinding the stump, you may start grinding the exposed roots of the tree. Methodically grind the exposed roots from the stump to the area where they disappear into the soil.

Step 6 - Remove the Wood Chips

After grinding the stump and the exposed roots, gather the wood chips and put it on a compost pile and let it rot. Decaying wood is a good source of nitrogen for the soil.