By Gene and Katie Hamilton
We thought removing an unwanted tree in our back yard wouldn't be that big of a project because the tree wasn't large. In fact, cutting it down was a slow but methodical job. Removing the stump, however, now that was a different story. But thanks to a rented stump grinder, we got the job done. You could spend a day cutting and hacking at a tree stump, but to remove it, you have to grind it up into small pieces, and that's why a powerful grinder is necessary equipment.
A landscape contractor or tree service will charge $258 to remove a 14-inch diameter tree stump, which includes labor and material. You can rent a gas-powered stump grinder for the day for $150 and do it yourself, but there's more than your time and money to consider. You need a trailer hitch on your vehicle to transport the grinder or pay extra to have it delivered. If the tree stump is located in a gated yard or area that's difficult to reach, you may have difficulty getting the grinder in place. If there's any doubt, survey the approach and determine how you'll get the grinder to the tree stump by measuring the width of the widest opening to the yard. Choose a grinder that can be maneuvered through it. If there’s no easy access to the stump, you’ll have to do it the old fashioned way and dig it out with a shovel.
You can do preliminary work to the stump before the grinder is in place by using an ax and chainsaw to cut it down to about six inches from the ground. Remove any rocks or debris around the stump so they don't dull or damage the cutting wheel. And always wear eye and hearing protection operating the brut. Before you begin grinding, have a game plan for using or removing all the wood chips you created.
Not a job you want to tackle? To find a contractor who has the skills and tools to do it right, click
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The bottom line: compare the price of a contractor’s bid to remove a tree stump with what it costs to do it yourself and make your decision. You adjust the cost to where you live by adding your ZIP Code.
A Florida reader prefers to dig out the stump digging down to the bottom of the root ball. He says "Since the ball is heavy I start adding dirt to one half of the hole (five inches high) then push the ball to new dirt, add dirt to the other half and roll the ball to the new half." He repeats that until the ball is at yard level. He says it costs about $40 to haul the ball away and there's no wood chips to remove.
Improvement and Repair Cost Updated 2020