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The Tree Stump Surprise

Introduction: The Shock of a Left-Behind Stump

A few weeks ago, you noticed that the big sycamore tree  in your yard developed a large vertical crack You did the right thing and immediately called an ISA-certified arborist to evaluate the tree. Unfortunately, the arborist explained that there was little to be done and  recommended that you remove the tree. 

You call a tree care company to come out and remove the sycamore. They drop, cut, and haul away the tree. Neither your home nor property suffers serious damage in the process.  You meet them outside when the job is complete and hand over your credit card to settle the bill. They thank you for the business, hand over a few business cards, and jump in the truck. Waving goodbye, you venture back to where the sycamore was standing. 

Before you even finish turning the corner around the back of your home, you see it. It, of course, is the stump; a final reminder that a proud tree once stood here. And, if the stump has anything to say about it, it will be here for years—if not decades— to come. 

Discovering a leftover tree stump in your yard can be a frustrating experience. This expanded guide covers the reasons why some tree removal services leave stumps behind and offers solutions for homeowners in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The Importance of Comprehensive Tree Removal Services

Expert Tree Removal Services - Arborist Now

An Arborist Now Team Member Working on Removing a Tree

Choosing the Right Arborist

Selecting a reputable tree removal service is crucial. A qualified arborist will not only safely remove your tree but also provide options for stump removal. Discuss stump removal at the beginning of your consultation to avoid surprises.

Any tree removal company should offer options for stump removal before they even schedule the job for you. You may not mind if they leave the stump (you may even want to turn it into something), but you can bet that they will have discussed the issue with you rather than leaving it as an unwelcome surprise once they have driven away.

Realize that some companies enlist subcontractors to remove stumps instead of doing the work themselves. This is perfectly fine, assuming the subcontractor retained is competent, insured, and professional.

Common Mistakes in Tree Removal

One common mistake in tree removal is not planning for the stump removal upfront. This oversight can lead to unnecessary complications such as pest infestations and safety hazards. Understanding the complete process of tree removal can prevent these issues and save you time and money.

Fixing the Problem

Serene Tree Stump in San Francisco

A Lone Tree Stump Remains After Tree Removal - Photo by Tookapic

Strictly speaking, you are not compelled to address the stump. Assuming it does not produce new shoots (which is likely), the stump will (eventually) decompose, leaving you with a rich patch of soil and organic material where the tree once stood. 

However, stumps can present a safety hazard, as they are easy to trip over. They are also difficult to mow or trim around, and they may attract wildlife. This can be particularly serious if the stump is located close to your home and the stump attracts termites—who live in the dirt, but eat dead wood, or ants—who live in the wood, but may venture into your home looking for food. 

Innovative Stump Removal Techniques

Mechanical Stump Grinding

Mechanical stump grinding is a quick and effective method to remove stumps. This technique involves using a stump grinder to mechanically break down the tree stump into wood chips, which can then be easily removed or used as mulch in your garden.

Chemical Stump Removers

For those who prefer not to use mechanical methods, chemical stump removers offer an alternative. These chemicals accelerate the decomposition of the stump, making it easier to remove manually. However, it's important to use these chemicals safely and responsibly to minimize environmental impact.

Eco-Friendly Options

There are also eco-friendly options for dealing with tree stumps. For instance, converting a stump into a garden planter or a natural habitat for wildlife can enhance your garden's aesthetics and biodiversity.

DIY Stump Removal Tips

Tree Stump Removal

A Worker Uses a Chainsaw to Trim Down a Tree Stump

If you're inclined to remove a stump yourself, this section provides you with step-by-step instructions on how to do it safely using tools like a chainsaw, digging bar, or stump grinder, ensuring you take proper safety precautions.

  1. Prepare: Assess the stump size and gather tools like a chainsaw, digging bar, and stump grinder.
  2. Wear Safety Gear: Wear protective goggles, gloves, and ear protection.
  3. Cutt the Stump: Use the chainsaw to trim the stump as close to the ground as possible.
  4. Loosen the Ground: Dig around the stump to expose roots using a shovel and digging bar.
  5. Remove the Roots: Cut the roots with a hand saw or chainsaw.
  6. Grind: Use the stump grinder to remove the stump and roots.
  7. Clean Up: Collect wood chips for mulch or disposal and fill the hole with soil.

This streamlined approach focuses on essential steps and safety, allowing you to efficiently remove a tree stump from your yard.

When to Call a Professional

While DIY methods can be effective, some situations require professional help. This guide will help you identify when it's time to call in a professional to handle stump removal, especially when dealing with large stumps or stumps located in difficult areas.

When to Consider Professional Stump Removal:

  • Large Stumps: If the stump is too large or the root system is extensive, professional equipment may be necessary.
  • Tricky Locations: Stumps close to structures or in hard-to-reach areas require professional precision to avoid damage.
  • Hardwood Trees: Some species, like hardwoods, are tougher and require specialized removal techniques.
  • Time Constraints: If DIY removal is taking too long, professionals can complete the job more quickly.
  • Safety: If using heavy machinery poses a risk, it's safer to hire a professional with the right expertise and insurance.

These criteria can help you decide when it's more efficient and safer to rely on professional services.


Wooden Table Stump

This Tree Stump Has Been Repurposed into a Rustic Table and Benches

Maintaining a stump-free landscape is key to a safe and aesthetically pleasing yard. Whether you choose to remove the stump or repurpose it, make sure to plan adequately and seek professional advice if necessary.

Of course, San Francisco residents in need of stump removal have it easy; they can just contact the best stump removal professionals in the Bay Area—Arborist Now!. Ensure your landscape remains beautiful and functional by working with professionals who understand your needs.

Originally published on May 30, 2016.

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