Tree cutting- to stump or grind down?

chsclJuly 8, 2014

I am looking at the possibility of having a tree in front of my house cut down.
I have gotten quotes from tree services some for just cutting down to the stump (two inches from ground) or grinding down stump as well .
Question, are there pros or cons to either options?
grinding it all the way down would cost more so just wondering if I just left the stump there what happens to the stump eventually? The gentlemen at the tree service suggested that if I opted to keep the stump I could just put a large potted plant over it . Or is it more worthwhile to just grind it all the way
Any input would be appreciated !

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I've had it done both ways. Those along a property line, out of the way, or in a garden bed were cut as close to ground level as possible and left to be grown over or planted around.

One in the lawn was a bit more problematic - the grinding process isn't just the stump, but the large circle around it to get the extended roots. I was left with a good sized shallow bowl ring of dirt, wood chips and sawdust to rake, fill in and smooth over.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 10:07AM
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mikebotann(8a SE of Seattle)

After looking at the cost of grinding down a stump in the lawn, I've always elected not do it. It's easier and cheaper to make a flower bed out of the area and landscape around or over the stump. I can cover a 2" high stump with a wheelbarrow load or two with topsoil and plant a groundcover around it pretty cheap in a flowerbed. The flowerbed area can usually be connected to another bed so as not to appear as a small, lonely island, in the middle of the lawn.
Higher stumps can be planted with Sedums. Just add a little topsoil, and maybe a few rocks. In this case, I used a hardy Geranium for a groundcover.

This post was edited by mikebotann on Tue, Jul 8, 14 at 11:49

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 11:45AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

there are two issues...

first... on my 5 acres... i wouldnt care.. it would be a waste of money ... mostly because i dont need the space.. and i would never focus on it... and would entirely enjoy the decade of mushrooms that will pop up.. a free show of ma nature ...

second.. will it drive you crazy??? .. lol ... that really where the money is spent ... if you have some smallish suburban yard.. and you are going to fixate on this until you die.. spend the money ...

for the money.. insist they remove ALL grindings ... you cant grow grass on it.. too much wood ... and it will take years to compost it into anything useful ..

and then they should backfill with some good replacement soil.. somewhat close to what you have .... dont put in premium grade A black gold.. if your soil is sand ... making two different soils can be a problem ...

mike/botans garden is much like mine... in that once cut.. we may never look at the stump again ... except with pleasure ...


    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 11:55AM
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mikebotann(8a SE of Seattle)

duluthinbloomz4 had the stump ground down correctly if the area was to be made into lawn. Just grinding the stump down 6 inches or so, and not the roots will give you all sorts of problems. Settling, being the main one. Large roots can settle too, causing problems for years. Plus, some trees have roots that sprout up in the lawn, especially when the tree is cut down.
Here's another example of a stump planted with Sedums in a wilder part of the garden.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 12:27PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

hey mike.. i could never get away with that in my sandy soil ... in MI

the rotting wood leaches all available moisture from the near sand... and they become so dry by about this time of year ... they arent even rotting ... unless they are dry rotting ...

most of the rotting in my MI ... is spring and fall when there is ambient moisture ... i could never grow anything.. IN the stump ... unless i was willing to water it every single day ... [again ... big garden vs small garden dilemma]

trees i cut when i moved here 14 years ago ... are just to the point of rotting to the point where i can kick off the exposed part .....

with 5 months of ground freeze .. and the dryness of july/august ... thats not a lot of rot months per year ...

comparing to mike in the PNW ... i am often amazed at how different it all is ... heck.. up the UP of MI ... there are still stumps from the clear cut at the turn of the 20th century ... 1900s ... and they are colder than i am ... but they have the same sand that i have 350 miles south .... thank you mr glacier .... [ever wonder about the global warming.. that made the glaciers recede 10,000 years ago ... one thing for sure.. it wasnt my fault]

but i digress


    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 2:28PM
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mikebotann(8a SE of Seattle)

Sedums don't need a rotting stump to grow on. I use a shovelful of soil on the top of the stump to help them out a bit, but that's all. No supplemental water and the result is no weeds. Our summers are comparatively dry in relation to the midwest.
Here's some sedums growing on a Pseudotsuga menzieii stump that hasn't begun to rot and won't for a long time. I cut it tall so I could hook a snatch block on it to pull my kid's Willys Jeep out of the woods with a four wheel drive truck so he can get it out of here. He parked it there when he blew the right front hub. He was 19 then. He's 48 now...... :-)

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 6:26PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

You might also consider what kind of tree it is and how quickly the stump will rot.

I had three silver maples in the lawn cut down, 3 and 3 1/2 years ago. The largest was 50 years old, the others perhaps 20 and 35 years old. The larger two had significant rot. I planned to plant new trees near each one.

The largest two trees were in the front lawn, and I had the stumps and roots ground out. I removed the grindings and used the coarser parts as mulch (those beds needed re-mulching only 2 years later). The finer parts were scattered in various places which needed raising, and where the wood content wouldn't be a problem.

That said, sifting stump grindings is something you probably only want to try if you are compulsive or crazy! But it was worthwhile in that there has been very little settling. Soil was added in both areas.

In the case of the smallest tree, which was in the side/back yard, I had the stump trimmed a few inches above soil level. A bird bath sits there.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 7:16PM
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Stumps are ugly. Grind it.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 7:28PM
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I wouldn't go that far judging by the pictures shown above. But perhaps being in front of the house and in the OP's lawn will have different considerations than some of the stumps left cut close to the ground in situations also mentioned.

Now garden gnomes are ugly, but some people leave them all over the place. I'm ducking now.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 7:42PM
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Thank You everyone for your input! I think I will most likely have it grinded down to the stump. I have a small suburban front yard so the stump in front of the house will be somewhat of an eyesore, not to mention I don't have much of a green thumb and won't know how to make the area work with the stump ðÂÂÂ

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 3:01PM
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