How to Remove a Tree Stump

By Gene and Katie Hamilton

Tools Required
  • Stump grinder
  • Chain saw
  • Shovel
Materials Required
  • Safety goggles
  • Ear plugs

Before You Begin

The instruction steps are below but if you don't want to tackle the job, click Home Advisor and see a list of prescreened contractors in your area to do the job.

  • Step 1 : Cut the stump down to the ground

    Cut the stump down to the ground

    Wear earplugs and safety goggles to protect yourself operating power tools. With a chain saw cut the stump down to as near to the ground as possible, approximately six inches high.

  • Step 2 : Rent the rig

    Rent the rig

    When renting a stump grinder, make sure you understand how to operate it. The cutter head is 18-inches in diameter with individual bolted-on teeth. It rests on two wheels, one of which has a break.

    Along with the grinder, rent a flat bed trailer to transport the 400 lb. brut. Make sure it has a tilt-bed so the grinder can roll on and off without using a ramp.

  • Step 3 : Power up the grinder

    Power up the grinde

    Wear earplugs and safety goggles while operating the grinder. Before starting the engine, make sure the cutter head is not in contact with the tree stump or the ground. The machine is direct drive so as soon as the motor starts, the cutter head turns. Make sure that no one is standing close behind it because the cutter head throws debris to the rear.

  • Step 4 : Lower the cutter head to the stump

    Lower the cutter head to the stump

    Once the grinder is in position, lock the wheel by applying the break. Only one wheel is locked so the grinder can pivot around it allowing the cutter head to move over the stump.

    Begin grinding the stump by gradually lowering the cutter head until it makes contact with the edge of the stump, then move the cutter head slowly across the top grinding away about two inches of wood at each pass. Keep the cutter head moving, but don't try to chip away too much with one pass. If you do, the cutter head digs a groove and begins to chatter when you try to move it sideways.

    The handle of the grinder rises as the cutter head eats away the stump. Reposition the adjustable handle so you can maintain a comfortable grip and have best control. Always maintain a two-hands grip on the handle. The locked wheel prevents the unit from kicking back, but it can kick sideways.

  • Step 5 : Remove the wood chips

    Remove the wood chips

    The cutter head throws wood chips and dirt under the machine so periodically check under the unit and remove any build up with a shovel.