11 Feb 2014

How do I get rid of a tree stump?

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For perhaps the last 50 years, this organism of sap, leaves and wood has been improving its death grip on your yard. It really only has that one defense: to more firmly anchor itself to terra firma by spreading roots as deep and broad as possible.

But now the tree is gone, but the stump remains, and the question is “what is the best way to get rid of this tree stump?”

Obviously, as a stump removal company, we always prefer to grind a stump into mulch in a few minutes, clean up the mess, and leave with our customers smiling, all for around a hundred bucks (for stumps up to 18” diameter!) But there are some situations where you may want to evaluate other options. The best way to get rid of a stump depends on the size and type of stump, physical ability, safety, time & money.

Stump removal by hand

1-6 inch stumps:

For very small stumps, especially those of trees or shrubs with shallow roots, those up to 5 or 6 inches can often be removed with a shovel, pick, axe, and a little muscle. They leave a reasonably small indentation in the ground that is easily filled with topsoil for new planting. Pro tip: if possible, leave 3 or 4 feet of the tree trunk intact to use as a lever to work the stump loose. Dig a circle with a radius of 15-20 inches from the trunk. Move the trunk side to side to expose roots to cut until you have cut all the roots and  then hoist the stump/root ball out of the hole, and you’re done! (Except for filling the hole back in, and clean up.)

For stumps 6 inches or greater…

Unless you are a yeoman, or just want to substitute stump removal for the gym for a week, stumps larger than 6 inches typically require something more than hand tools.

Power tool rental: the stump grinder

For stumps from 6 inches up to about 20 inches, and you want to do it yourself, a stump grinder from a rental store might be an option for the job. For a rental store stump grinder, the physical ability requirements are about the same as a roto-tiller, and the grinder machine is also about the same size. You will need some way to transport the grinder, such as a pickup or trailer. Tip: purchase the damage waiver!

Advantages of renting a stump grinder:
-You have full control
-Relatively safe when compared to other DIY options.

Disadvantages of renting a stump grinder:
-Costs more than Flatirons Stump Removal. (Keep in mind that Flatirons Stump Removal starts at around $100 for many stumps.)
-You have to do it yourself.
-Can be difficult to meet a 4-hour or half-day rental window, resulting in increased rental cost.
-Most grinders from rental stores are not capable of removing to the full recommended depth of 6-8 inches.
-Effort and time.
-Daunting task if stump is large!

Hire a stump service:

For about the same cost as renting a stump grinder, you can hire Flatirons Stump Removal. Call us for a free estimate! 303-578-0822

Advantages of Flatirons Stump Removal:
-Complete removal of stump
-More cost effective than any other option!
-No risk to life & limb!
-Free written estimate provided prior to beginning work.

Disadvantages of Flatirons Stump Removal:
-You need to be available during a 2 hour window.
-Our service area is limited to keep the best prices!

Removal methods to avoid:

Flatirons Stump Removal advises against all of the following due to safety or environmental concerns.

The Jerk

Most red-blooded American men love the thought of removing a tree stump! We may not be sure what all is involved, but instantly picture equipment, power tools, strength and skill.

Often the first mental image people have of stump removal would be called “The Jerk.” Perhaps especially at risk for this thought are owners of tractors or large trucks.  “I will just throw a chain around that stump, drop her into 4WD low and HAMMER DOWN!” Perhaps this is a good time to let YouTube guide you. In fact, spend the day watching clips of stump removals gone wrong, instead of risking your own life or vehicle.

The potential risks includes damage to your drivetrain and vehicle, damage to the yard, sidewalk where your wheels will be spinning,  street, house, and/or neighbors property . If the tow line breaks, the line can become a slingshot, plus you now have a full-throttle 3 ton vehicle rocketing away from the stump that was previously anchoring it. A tragic story in Aurora, Colorado reported the traumatic death of a man who was killed trying to pull a stump out of the ground with his SUV, also injuring his elderly neighbor.

And if by some stroke of luck, the stump pops out, and no one is hurt, you are still left with a gaping hole in your yard to fill.

For the cost of a visit to the Emergency Room, you could get numerous stumps removed!


This is probably illegal where you live. If it’s not illegal, please remember that Colorado fire danger is almost always high.


Please read our post on chemicals.


Best option

Call Flatirons Stump Removal, and let us get that stump out for you! 303-578-0822