man using a stump grinder
A stump grinder is a machine that uses a rotating cutting disk to chip away tree stumps. It offers an easy, fast and effective way of removing stumps.

Stump grinders, just like other heavy and powerful machinery, can be potentially dangerous and are operated by professionals due to the high risk of injury involved.

Operators need protective equipment to operate the machine itself and protect themselves from the decibels and fragments flying off during grinding.

These could be sharp wood pieces and also anything that could've been hidden in the ground: old columns, pipes, bricks, glass, nails or lost equipment.

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power king PK0803 stump grinder

Our Recommendation: Power King PKO803 Grinder

Renting VS. Owning

A rental grinder is the best option if you want to DIY and remove a few stumps in your lawn. It's always a cheaper option than buying the equipment or hiring an arborist to do the work for you. Plus, the rental store explains safety precautions on using the stump grinder before you leave with it. Some rental companies also offer to deliver the grinder to your home, so less headache if you don't have a trailer or a truck.

However, if you will be performing yard work regularly on your farm or want to start a lucrative stump removal business, it's best to own your stump grinder as you will most likely have stumps to remove every now and then.

Preparation Before Using A Tree Stump Grinder

Besides machine damage, risks associated with stump grinding jobs include flying rocks, debris and carbide cutting tips that could've broken loose. Injuries that could result from the careless or reckless use of stump grinders include fractures, loss of limbs and, in the worst case, death. So, before heading out into the field, it's always best that you and those around you should know the proper safety procedures and precautions to prevent injuries.

Safety when using stump grinders should always be your number one priority.

The basic and most important safety rules of operating a stump grinder are to wear protective gear, clear rocks and debris around the work area and stay away from the base and cutting wheel of the grinder.

Before proceeding to start up your grinder, always do the following for safe and efficient stump grinding:

Inspect The Work Area

First, do a walk around and inspect the area to make sure it's safe to work. Check whether there is sufficient footing for your stump grinder and operator. Also, make sure that there are no safety hazards around the work area. Take note and clear all the twigs, rocks, and other objects around the tree stump.

Also, check for buried pipes, fencing or metal as they also could present danger. Remember to ask the owner whether there could be underground utilities such as water & gas pipes, sprinkler lines, property markers, etc.

Safety First, Gear & Instructions

Since stump grinders can be extremely dangerous, the operator(s) must wear their respective safety equipment all the time while using the stump grinder. This includes gloves, safety goggles, PPE, ear plugs, sturdy steel-toed work boots and chainsaw safety pants.

Most stump grinders have been equipped with safety features. It's now common for the grinders to include a cutter wheel guard and safety curtains to help prevent flying debris from hurting the operators. Some also have emergency shutdowns and/or operator presence sensors and devices.

NOTE: Absolutely never go near the cutter wheel.

Clear The Area Around the Base Of The Stump

Before grinding the stumps, clear the area of anything lying around that you found during the inspection. To further increase the visibility, you can also trim grass and plants around the stump.

Next, if the tree stump is higher above the ground level, you can try and cut it down as low as possible to help reduce the amount of grinding needed to get rid of the stump. Using a chainsaw to trim the stump also reduces the stump grinder's amount and hours of work. This speeds up the stump removal process and makes the job much easier.

A stump grinding pro always uses a shovel to clear all the rocks and sticks around the stump's base. This is not only an important safety practice, but it also helps protect the wheel teeth from getting damaged.

Make Sure The Grinder Is Well Serviced

Regular maintenance and servicing are essential to keep your stump grinder and the work environment safe and reliable. Lack of maintenance or inadequate servicing can potentially be the cause of nasty accidents and health problems. We recommend both Power King stump grinders and DK2 Power stump grinders.

Using A Stump Grinder: Process

Stump grinding is an intricate process that requires patience.

Getting Started

Once you have prepared the surrounding ground, you are now ready to proceed. Move the grinder and make sure the grinder's cutting wheel is directly above the stump before turning it on. In some grinders, you have to engage the safety switch first for the stump grinder to turn on.

Slowly lower the wheel until it comes into contact with the stump. The machine will then start the grind, chipping away wood chips. Use the adjustment lever on the machine to make small increments and move the wheel from side to side to ensure that all the tree stump is properly removed.

Take Your Time

Besides making the wheel adjustments throughout the process. to remove stumps completely, you'll often need to make several passes by moving the machine forward and backwards over the tree stump to bring it down to about 4 inches below the ground level.

Generally, most professionals recommend grinding a minimum of 4-6 inches below the ground. In some instances, you might be required to go deeper, sometimes even up to 10 inches! However, the depth to which a stump grinder is effective is subject to some limitations. These could be things like the type/radius of tree stump you are dealing with and whether your stump grinder is powerful enough.

For small to medium stump removals, the process can take less than 15 minutes, while large stumps can take as much as 2 hours, sometimes more depending on the conditions and type of tree.

Once you are satisfied with the stump removal, turn off the machine and move it away from the stump area.

Disposing The Leftover Wood Chip

You've managed to get rid of the tree stump. The next step is to dispose of the grindings that have piled up in your yard. Shovel or rake up as many wood chips as you can. Push the dirt and all the remaining wood chips to fill the hole left by the tree stump. Tamp it down, lightly rake and spread grass or flower seeds, or plant vegetables around the area to restore your lawn.

Do wood chips attract termites?

Yes They Do

The wood chips act as mulching which helps retain moisture. While termites do not smell out or seek the mulch, they are most certainly drawn to the moist and thicker environment once they randomly find them.

A few ways to dispose of the wood chips include:

  • Using them as mulch.
  • Adding them to your compost the material.
  • Spread them on the pathways and walkways.
  • Burying them into the stump hole

Bottom Line

A stump grinder is a powerful machine that should be handled with care at all times. Here are some important reminders:

  • Always wear protective gear to shield yourself from flying debris.
  • Ensure there are no bystanders close or entering the area.
  • Don't try to push down or overpower the stump grinder by grinding too deep too fast. Instead, use a side-to-side sweeping motion.
  • It's best to follow a stump grinder pre-start checklist before you start the grinder.
  • Always read the operating instructions before use, especially if you are new to the machine.

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