Don’t Get Stumped: Which Stump Cutter Is Best for You?

Steiner stump cutter

For landowners and grounds management professionals, tree removal projects can be hard and tedious work. One of the most important steps to efficient tree removal is stump cutting, which can be one of the easiest parts of the tree removal process. All too often trees are timbered, chopped up and hauled away without proper removal of the stump. Leaving a tree stump in the ground is not only an aesthetic eye sore but can also be a safety hazard for people and a barrier to the health of trees/plants around it. Tripping and falling over a stump can lead to serious injuries for a person if the stump isn’t cut low enough to the ground.

Additionally, vacant tree stumps are an open invite to pests such as carpenter ants, termites and other wood-boring insects, all of which are naturally attracted to tree stumps. Once the stump is infected, healthy trees and shrubs surrounding the infected stump are also at risk of disease and infestation. So now that it’s known that almost all stumps should be removed, the next step is figuring out which stump removal equipment is best for your stump removal needs.

The Right Model for You

There are three categories of stump cutters, including walk-behind, self-propelled and machine-mounted models. All three types of stump grinders will get the job done in a similar time frame and at a comparable efficiency level. The key to deciding which model is right for you will largely depend on the size and frequency of your tree removal jobs. Among the most important things to consider when doing an audit of your tree removal work is:

  • How many stumps need to be removed?
  • How close are the stumps to each other?
  • What are diameters of the stumps you need to remove?
  • What are the number of stumps you foresee yourself removing in the future?

The Convenience of Walk Behinds

If your stump cutting project consists of removing that one pesky dead tree in the middle of your backyard, it would make much more sense to rent a stump cutter as opposed to buying one. Walk-behind stump cutters are about the size of a lawn mower and are convenient because they’re easily maneuverable, giving the operator ample control while using it. If you have a small grouping of stumps that need to be removed in close vicinity of each other, a walk behind is a great option. For the landscaper with multiple acres and stumps scattered from end to end, the self-propelled or machine-mounted options are likely the better fit, as transporting a walk-behind stump cutter can get tiring very fast.

The Ease of Self-Propelled

Self-propelled models are great for moving from stump to stump and are relatively easy to handle, some coming with remote controls while others need to be manually maneuvered like a walk-behind model. Since self-propelled models are typically a little bigger than walk-behind models, it’s important to make sure you’ll have room to operate it and space to store it when not in use.

“Machine-mounted stump grinders are advantageous because they can cut deeper into the stump, making it easier to remove once the grinding is done.”

The Power of Machine-Mounted

For landscape professionals with many large stumps to remove, using a machine-mounted model will get the job done quickly, efficiently and requires the least amount of labor. Many machine-mounted models are compatible with either a tractor, backhoe or a skid steer. Machine-mounted models are almost always remote control-based machines, operated with levers and requiring minimal manual labor. Machine-mounted stump grinders are advantageous because they can cut deeper into the stump, making it easier to remove once the grinding is done.

The Steiner Stump Cutter attachment designed for the Steiner 450 tractor is a great machine-mounted stump grinding option on the market. This stump cutter is equipped with a fully adjustable 16-in.-diameter cutting wheel and can cut 5 in. below the surface. The Steiner Stump Cutter is built with carbide teeth and powered by a right-angle gearbox, minimizing wear and tear, thus lengthening the lifespan of the cutting blade.

Safety First

No matter what kind of stump grinding equipment you’re using, it’s important to always remember to prep the area and machine for safety before using. Always make sure the machine is clear of debris while operating, that the machine is properly greased and that all your safety flaps and covers are properly in place.

Once the stump grinding is done and the stump is completely removed, don’t forget to fill the hole with some of the tree stump shavings, healthy soil and your desired seed. Then, watch as your property bursts with new life.

Jon Friess is a product specialist for Steiner.

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