Cutting down a tree in your yard poses a dual problem for homeowners. The first is the issue of removing the tree, and the second is stump removal. No one likes to cut down a tree for no reason. Healthy trees planted in a good location on your property help to increase curb appeal. But it becomes necessary when a tree is dead or dying. In Florida, in particular, unhealthy trees can be uprooted during a tropical storm or hurricane and cause extensive damage to your home and nearby structures (and vehicles). However, it is crucial to understand that removing the stump is equally important, as it has the potential to cause multiple issues of its own.
What’s the Harm in Leaving a Tree Stump?
A tree stump may not be a lovely sight, but after a while, you’ll get used to it and ignore it. So what’s the harm in leaving a tree stump in place? Actually, there are many reasons, which include the following:
Curb appeal – While you may have gone “stump blind,” tree stumps are an eyesore to everyone else. If they are visible from the road, they decrease the curb appeal of your property. Removing tree stumps can make your property look better – which helps you get top dollar for your home when it’s time to sell!
If you own a commercial building, banishing the stumps will increase your business’s professional image and create a positive impression among current and potential customers. Leaving them makes it look like you don’t care. And if you don’t care about the appearance of your business, what else don’t you care about? This is not a good question to raise in the mind of customers.
It decreases the value of your property – A tree stump in your yard can decrease the value of your property and keep potential buyers away. Again, if you’ve neglected your yard, house hunters wonder if you’ve also slacked off in other areas – such as maintenance and repairs. Homebuyers also see one or more stumps as an expense they’ll have to incur for removal. Add that to the other repairs and needed updates they’re noting during the open house, and you can expect most people to continue their search.
Speaking of people anticipating extra expenses because of a tree stump, consider that the roots are still very much alive. They continue to grow, with the potential to invade underground pipes, as well as undermine driveways, sidewalks or decks.
Safety issues – Tree stumps just sit there, waiting for you to absentmindedly run into one with your lawn mower, or a family member or visitor to trip over it. The last scenario could set you up for a lawsuit. Although laws vary from state to state, even someone who is on your property without your knowledge or permission can sue for negligence. Owners of commercial property also need to be aware of this possibility.
Space wastage – A tree stump can hinder your plans for getting the best use and enjoyment from your yard. It could have a negative impact on landscaping plans by preventing you from planting new trees, ornamental shrubs, flower beds or even a pond in the area in which the stump sits.
Insects and diseases – A decaying tree stump is vulnerable to insects and diseases. It can attract ants, spiders, grubs, termites and other insects in hordes. Once these insects start living in your yard, they can eventually enter your home. A tree stump is also home to various tree diseases, which can quickly spread to healthy trees.
A tree stump facilitates new growth – New trees can come up around the stump, which is not just unsightly, but can leech the nutrients meant for nearby healthy plants. Also, new roots around the stump can make the removal process even more cumbersome. Such new growth is typically not attractive, and unlikely to become good landscape trees.
Different Types of Stump Removal
There are three main methods to remove a tree stump:
- Stump grinding
- Manual removal
- Chemical removal
Stump grinding involves using a piece of machinery that is straightforwardly known as a stump grinder. There are several different types to fit a variety of jobs, each of which the good people at American Climbers identify and describe. However, all stump grinders use a powerful, rotating blade that rips into the wood as it turns. The blade’s teeth cut the stump wood into small pieces. The operator guides the blade over the entire stump as the blade reduces the wood to chips, and takes the stump down to well below ground level.
Advantages of stump grinding include:
- Takes the stump down to below ground level.
- Reduces stump to wood chips, which can be used for mulch.
- Kills the root system, preventing continued growth and possible intrusion into sewer pipes and damage to driveways and house foundation.
American Climbers notes a disadvantage to this method if you plan to build over the site of the stump. Because a tree stump is wood, an organic material, it will decompose over time. This means that it isn’t a stable base material for construction, as any foundations, footings or rigid materials will move over time.
Manual method – This method involves digging out the stump, exposing the root ball and taproot. The taproot is then cut with an ax or bowsaw. It is typically used for small-to-medium-size stumps.
Chemical method – Chemical stump remover products use potassium nitrate, which accelerates the process of wood decay. Holes are drilled into the stump, after which the chemical remover is added. This is followed by pouring water into the holes, then covering the stump and waiting for the chemical to do its work – which can take up to one year, depending upon the size of the stump. Potassium nitrate is a hazardous substance that can cause skin and eye irritation. Keep children and pets away from the stump, as well as the chemical granules.
Why This Isn’t a DIY Job
Removing a tree stump using the first two of the above methods is dangerous work that should only be performed by a lawn service professional or arborist (tree surgeon). Our blog post – “Are You Stumped by Tree Stumps?” – covers in detail the numerous reasons for leaving this job to the pros.
Regarding stump grinding, even though you can rent a stump grinder, that doesn’t mean you have the ability or protective clothing and equipment to use it safely. And manually digging out a stump requires the use of an ax and other sharp tools that can cause serious injury when wielded by an inexperienced person. In addition, you may risk cutting into utility cables or a sewer pipe.
While the chemical method may seem the most benign, it still requires proceeding with caution. As previously mentioned, keep stump removal chemicals away from children and pets – and keep them away from the stump while it decomposes. You’ll also need to make sure the stump remover doesn’t harm surrounding plants or trees. Your goal is only to rot away the stump itself, but if the chemicals get anywhere else, they can also kill the grass and other nearby plant life. Proper storage and use of any chemical is essential.
Because this method may take up to one year to remove the stump, maintaining vigilance for such a long period can be demanding if your yard is the neighborhood playground and/or you have rambunctious dogs. If this is the case, opting for removal by a professional will be more expensive, but can give you peace of mind – as well as some clear square footage that you can put to better use sooner rather than later.
If you have a stump in your yard and are looking for a professional tree stump removal service, call The Paint Manager! Our stump grinding services can remove stumps of all sizes and types. We have the appropriate equipment, and our trained professionals are capable of safely removing the stump. We invite you to visit our website’s Stump Grinding Services page for details and pricing – then contact us if a tree stump is spoiling the aesthetics of your home!