Do you have an irritating tree stump in your yard that you want to get rid of? A professional tree stump removal service can help, though it can come at a cost that you may not what to absorb.
What Is Tree Stump Removal and Why Should You Consider It?
After removing a tree, you’re left with a stump that can often seem unsightly in an otherwise nicely-kept yard.
Unfortunately, removing that stump is rarely a simple case of shoveling it out of the ground, especially if the tree it came from was particularly large.
You have to consider the stump’s roots, which can extend deep underground, in addition to how the yard will look following the removal. There’s also the disposal of the stump to think about.
Professional tree stump removal services help you to get rid of any unwanted stumps quickly while leaving as little evidence of the stump behind as possible.
By using one of these services, you get rid of an element of your yard that is not aesthetically pleasing. Furthermore, tree stump removal ensures you don’t have to deal with invasive roots that can cause foundational issues for your property.
Finally, tree stumps rot over time. Again, this is unsightly, and you end up with pretty big whole in the ground.
But a bigger issue with rotting tree stumps is that they attract pests, such as termites, beetles, and ants, all of which can cause problems for your yard and property.
Did you know? According to a report from pest control company Terminex, approximately 600,000 homes experience termite infestations each year.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that these irritating bugs cause about $2 billion in damages annually.
How Much Does Tree Stump Removal Cost?
The full cost of your tree stump removal varies depending on several factors. However, the project can range in price from $200 for a minor stump up to $950 for more complex removals.
Generally speaking, most tree stump removals come closer to the lower end of that spectrum, with the national average coming in at about $220
See the table below for a break down of the stump removal service costs.
|Full Stump Removal||$170 to $450|
|Stump Grinding||$50 to $130 ($3 per inch of stump diameter)|
|Chemical Removal||$80 to $100|
|Burning||$230 to $250|
|Average Hourly Rate||$90 to $155|
|Cost Per Diameter Inch||$1.80 to $4.75|
|Clear-Up Cost Per Diameter Inch||$1.80|
|DIY Removal||$100 to $400|
Check out our guide on Exterior Remodeling Costs.
Factors That Affect The Cost Of Stump Removal
The following factors play into how much a tree stump removal specialist will charge for their service.
Factor No. 1 – The Specialist’s Hourly Rate
Most specialists charge an hourly fee instead of a flat removal rate. This allows them to compensate for jobs that are more complex than originally anticipated.
Thankfully, this hourly fee system can also serve the customer if your tree stump proves less complicated to remove than initially anticipated.
Hourly fees vary depending on the contractor and the state you’re in. However, you should expect to pay somewhere in the region of $90 to $155 per hour for the removal.
If you have several tree stumps to remove, you’ll find that many professionals charge a lower hourly rate for any stumps beyond the first.
In some cases, this can drop the hourly fee to $40 an hour, though some will still charge up to $80 per hour for additional stumps.
Factor No. 2 – The Stump Diameter
In addition to their hourly fees, most contractors charge a set fee based on the stump’s diameter. A larger diameter adds to the removal time, meaning you may get stung with higher hourly rates in addition to a larger set fee.
Thankfully, the set diameter fee isn’t too costly. You’ll likely spend between $1.80 and $4.75 per inch, depending on your location.
However, many contractors start with a set minimum diameter fee of $100, with the price rising if the stump is too large for this fee to cover. Unfortunately, this also means you’re stuck paying a larger fee than you otherwise would if you’re removing a small stump.
Did you know? You can measure a tree trunk’s diameter easily using a tape measure. Professionals measure the diameter between the trunk’s two widest points.
By doing this at home, you can get an idea of how much you’ll pay based on the tree stump’s size. For example, a stump measuring 10 inches across will carry a fee of between $11.80 and $47.50.
Factor No. 3 – The Type of Tree
Hardwood trees, such as oak and elm, are more difficult to remove than softwood trees. The clues are in the names here, as hardwood trees are tougher and may require specialists to chop or grind the wood to get rid of it completely.
Most contractors don’t change their pricing based on the type of tree stump they’re removing. But hardwood trees stumps take more time to remove, which is reflected in the hourly costs you pay.
Factor No. 4 – Root Complexity
Stump removal specialists pull the tree’s entire root system out of the ground. This process adds to the cost of removal, especially if the root network is particularly complex or if the stump is close to a structure, such as your home.
A tree’s roots often extend deep underground. Plus, they can get entwined with the foundations of structures by growing through gaps within them.
Again, there are no set costs related to root complexity. However, more complicated root systems take longer to dig up, which adds time to the project. Again, this will impact the amount you pay based on the contractor’s hourly rate.
Happily, you can choose to keep the root system underground and only remove the stump it’s attached to. This service is called tree grinding and it takes less time than tree stump removal.
While this service is more cost-effective, it won’t solve the problems that in-tact root systems can cause.
Factor No. 4 – The Terrain
Simple soil makes removing a tree stump fairly simple. Unfortunately, a tree stump lodged in rockier terrain can cause more problems.
Rocks hamper the contractor’s ability to dig underneath the stump to remove its roots. Plus, rocks can also damage or dull the equipment the professional uses, which makes the job riskier.
If your stump is in rocky terrain, or it’s otherwise difficult to access, you’ll usually find that the contractor accounts for these problems by charging an hourly rate on the higher end of the spectrum.
Factor No. 5 – The Stump’s Age
Though a rotting stump can prove problematic for your property, it can help you to reduce the cost of your stump removal a little.
Rotting wood is easier to break down or grind away, which reduces the amount of time spent on the removal.
Of course, brand-new stumps are usually stronger, necessitating more time. Again, this factor affects the number of hours spent on the task.
Did you know? If you’re thinking of waiting for your tree stump to decompose, prepare to wait for a long time.
The average tree stump takes between three and seven years to naturally cut. Interestingly, lower cut stumps tend to rot faster than higher cut ones.
Factor No. 6 – Cleaning Up
While most tree stump removal specialists factor the cost of clearing up the stump into their hourly fee, some don’t.
If you’re presented with a price that seems low for the averages already discussed, immediately ask if the fee covers the clean-up.
If it doesn’t, you can expect your contractor to add about $1.80 per diameter inch for the job.
Other companies may charge a flat fee for clearing up debris, whereas a rare few don’t offer the service at all.
Can I Remove The Stump Myself?
It’s possible to remove a tree stump yourself using equipment that you can rent in most home improvement stores. This option means you avoid the fees that contractors charge for their hourly work. Still, removing a tree stump yourself is not free.
For example, you will likely need to rent a stump grinder to make the job more manageable. Many home improvement stores offer this equipment, which they rent out in half or full-day increments.
Expect to pay between $70 and $95 for a half-day rental, with the price increase to anywhere between $140 and $350 to rent the equipment for a full day.
Beyond this specialist equipment, you will also need shovels, a wheelbarrow, and some way of transporting the leftover debris to a suitable disposal facility.
It’s also likely that you’ll want to invest in safety glasses, some form of hearing protection, and appropriate work boots.
Assuming you don’t have any of this equipment, you may find yourself spending as much as $400 on a DIY removal.
However, you get to keep all but the rented equipment after the removal, which makes future work more cost-effective.
Is Tree Stump Grinding A Better Option Than Removal?
It depends on the circumstances.
Tree stump grinding involves removing the visible stump while leaving the root system in place. It’s typically more cost-effective than a full removal, with prices ranging from $150 to a top-end of about $430.
But as mentioned, the presence of roots can cause issues for any nearby structures, in addition to preventing you from planting anything else in the affected areas.
Still, grinding can be a good choice if the stump isn’t close enough to any structures for the roots to cause issues.
Are Grinding and Full Removal My Only Options?
Beyond grinding or removal, a professional may suggest chemical rotting or burning.
Chemical rotting involves drilling holes into the stump, with those holes then being filled with a chemical composition containing sulphuric acid, potassium nitrate, or nitric acid.
The exact chemicals vary depending on your state’s regulations. The contractor then leaves the stump for four-to-six weeks, after which the stump should have rotted to the point where it’s much easier to remove.
Chemical rotting costs about $80-100, plus the cost of the removal of the rotted stump.
Burning works similarly, at first. Again, the contractor drills holes and fills the stump with a chemical.
Only this time, the chemical is flammable and the stump gets set on fire. Floating embers and the fire itself present challenges with this option, meaning it’s not the best choice if the stump is near other flammable material.
Furthermore, burning can tarnish the terrain and does not remove the stump’s root system. Expect to pay between $230 and $250 for this service.
How Far Can Tree Roots Expand?
The length of a tree’s roots depends on the size and age of the tree. Generally speaking, the majority of a tree’s root system is found in the first 12 inches of the soil underneath the tree.
However, the roots can extend a distance up to 15% higher than the tree’s limbs. If you had a large tree with long limbs, the root system may be so extensive that it raises the amount of time needed for the removal considerably.
Did you know? The largest recorded tree roots plunged to a depth of over 230 feet. They belonged to a Shepherd’s tree in the Kalahari Desert and the roots were only discovered because groundwater well drillers discovered them during their work.
How Long Does Does It Take To Remove A Tree Stump?
The time required depends on the type of tree, the strength of the wood, and the complexity of its root system.
For example, grinding a small tree stump can take as little as 15 minutes. But removing a large stump, in addition to getting rid of the root system, can be an all-day task.
It’s best to speak with multiple contractors to get several quotes for removal time so you get an idea of how long your stump will take to remove.
What If You Want to Maintain the Stump?
Instead of tree stump removal, you might consider retaining the stump for use in your yard. Tree stumps make excellent bases for birdbaths and planters. You can also fashion them into small tables or garden stools, depending on the stump’s size.
To use a tree stump for one of these purposes, you need to maintain the wood so it doesn’t rot. This usually includes clearing away dead bark and sanding the stump down.
You can then fill any cracks with an appropriate filler, such as epoxy, before applying a wood stabilizer and sealant to the stump.
Get Rid of the Dead Wood
Tree stump removal can be a simple process that costs less than $200. Or, it can be a complex process that involves disturbing a lot of natural terrain while costing $1,000+
It all depends on the type of wood, its age, and the size of the stump, along with the removal process you use.
Before choosing a removal process, consider how the stump affects its surroundings. If the stump isn’t near manmade structures, grinding or chemical removal may be a good choice.
Should you have no intention of using the ground the stump is in again, burning may be a solid option.
However, full tree stump removal is your best choice if you want to ensure that the former tree’s roots don’t cause problems elsewhere.