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The Tree Stump Surprise


A few weeks ago, you noticed that the big sycamore tree (Platanus racemosa) 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 he or she recommended that you remove the tree. 

You call around and find a cut-rate company that quotes you a rate about $100 lower than most of the other companies. You wonder if it is wise to try to save such a small fraction of the cost by going with a less-than-reputable company (it is not), but you eventually cave in and solicit their services. 

Joe-Q-Tree-Cutter comes out with his crew and removes the sycamore. They do a decent enough job, and drop, cut and haul away the tree. Neither your home nor property suffered serious damage in the process. 

You meet them outside when the job is complete, and hand over your credit card to settle the bill. Joe thanks you for the business, hands over a few business cards and jumps in his truck. Waving goodbye, you venture back to where the sycamore was standing. But this is where things get ugly. 

Before you even finish turning the corner around the back of your home, you see it. Standing there defiantly, thumbing its nose at your hopes, dreams and hard work. It just stands there, mocking you. 

“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. 

Where You Went Wrong

Remember that hundred dollar bill you saved by going with the cut-rate tree cutter? 

Any tree removal company worth their salt will discuss your 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 like 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. 

Fixing the Problem

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

However, stumps can represent 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. 

Accordingly, most people wish to have stumps removed from their yard. Fortunately, there are a number of different approaches you can take, which we will examine in a few days, so be sure to check back soon (you can also follow us on Twitter to know when we update the blog). 

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 and let us take care of the stump for you. 



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