How to Remove Tree Stumps and Roots Safely and Easily

Stand next to a tree with your legs wide open, hold the tree with both hands and pull until the roots come out. Sounds Easy, right? No, it’s not, what might happen is, your back might give out oh and you are not superman meaning this option will only work if the plant doesn’t have deep roots.

There are a number of ways to eliminate stumps from the landscape. If you don’t have the energy to dig out the roots what you can do is cut the stump level low so as to allow mowers to drive over. You can also decide to leave the stump as is and use it as a table or seat i.e. stump seat or stump table.

Here is the truth, removing a stump from the ground is hard work, it is also dangerous. It should be done by someone who knows what he or she is doing in which case you may have to give that person money. But you want to avoid that right?

Why not leave it as is?

You could do that but remember that someone might trip over the stump and sue you; also stumps are an excellent food source for pests and diseases when left untreated.  If the stump is out of the way, there is no harm in leaving it there. On the other hand, if it is an eyesore, tripping hazard or if it generally causes butthurt. This is what you should do:

Buy a hoe

Get your mind out of the gutter I am talking about a long hand-held gardening tool with a thin metal blade that is used to dig the earth. This is hard work depending on how deep the roots are. You can remove roots while digging around the stump using a level bar, chain or hand winch.

For those of you who don’t have the energy to do this manually you can use:

  • Backhoe
  • Loader
  • Excavator

The problem with this option is you will destroy an established landscape. That’s because machines require good access to the site, the amount of damage done to your yard may be more than you intended. So weigh your options or simply tell your kids to do it, a little manual labor never hurt anyone, haha, don’t do that.

Generally, you have eight options the best one being hiring expert removers to do the job.

  • Eat a sandwich and do nothing
  • Mechanically push or pull: this involves soaking the soil with lots of water and using grapple or chains to pull out the stump.
  • Use chippers or grinders: you can use self-propelled machines, stump grinders, or tow behind machines etc.
  • Accelerate ecological decay: enrich the soils around the stump.
  • Water and air excavation
  • Use soil saws or trenching
  • Burning: set it on fire using a petroleum-based accelerant
  • Accelerate chemical degradation: infuse the stump with potassium nitrate.

How to Know Qualified Tree surgeons

Tree surgery is not done using tiny razor blades in controlled environments, it is done by brave men and women who have the courage to climb let’s say a 60-foot tree chainsaw in hand. Operating a chainsaw, machete or any other tree cutting tool is dangerous work. You could fall, lose a limb, suffer serious injury, or die.

 

The issue is if someone gets injured or dies while working on something on your property you may be held liable. For example, assume that you hired your neighbor’s teenage son to climb a tree and cut some branches. You thought “I’ll give this kid $100 to get the job done”.  The truth is if he falls and injures himself, you are not only looking at child labor charges you may also have to pay for damages out of pocket or face time behind bars.

The work of a tree surgeon is to plant, maintain and perform hazardous tasks on trees. They trim, prune and sometimes bring down trees. This kind of work requires a disciplined and physically fit person.

Certified arborists or tree surgeons charge higher rates than people who learn the trade on the job because they pay a lot of money for their ongoing training. Although it may cost you more, it is safer to hire a certified tree surgeon.

Can the person operate a chainsaw and other dangerous equipment?

You don’t need a diploma or degree to become a tree surgeon, that’s because most learners learn the trade while on the job. Here you are looking for experience i.e. how long has the person been doing the job? There are training programs available for this line of work but as mentioned above most tree surgeons get their experience in the field.

Generally, the person needs the following qualifications:

  • Physical fitness
  • Ability to safely operate dangerous equipment
  • Climbing experience
  • Use of a chainsaw from rope and harness

It is advisable to ask for references, ask the surgeon to provide you with examples of their previous work. If they have a website, blog or social media page look at the testimonials. Find out if previous customers are happy or if they are complaining. An even better option is to get references from friends and neighbors.

Do you have insurance?

Remember that old scam where you hire someone and he or she gets injured intentionally while working on your property?  The result of that is you get sued or pay hush money to keep the scammer quiet. Insurance is important because it protects you from liability i.e. if the person gets injured the insurance company pays not you.

Generally, to be safe you should:

  • Hire a specialist
  • Ask for accreditation and membership
  • Check essential qualifications
  • Make sure that the tree surgeon is insured

Generally, it all boils down to experience i.e. the more experience a surgeon has the better the outcome. There is no guarantee that nothing will go wrong, but the benefit of hiring an experienced tree surgeon is the possibility of things going sideways is lower.

What Is The Difference Between Tree Pruning and Tree Trimming?

 

To most people trimming and pruning is the same thing and they are both right and wrong to think that, that’s because both techniques are employed by homeowners when taking care of their gardens. The difference between these two techniques is why they are done; gardeners or homeowners trim for the following reasons:

  • Manage fruit or flower production
  • Improve tree structure
  • Save a damaged tree after a disaster
  • Manage health
  • Reduce wind resistance
  • Reduce shade

On the other hand, pruning is done for the following reasons

  • Remove overgrown, unwieldy or dangerous branches
  • Safety reasons
  • Encourage healthy and strong tree growth.

Focus: Trimming

Let’s assume that the tree you planted 10 years ago is too close to a power and hence can interfere with electrical service or is a hazard to your home or someone else’s. If that tree falls and destroys property or injures someone you may be responsible for damage caused if evidence is found that you failed to maintain the tree. It is called negligence and depending on the nature of the resulting damage you may find yourself behind bars or may have to part with a huge chunk of your hard earned money.

Trimming is a service that should be performed at least twice a year depending on the plant species. Species that grow faster should be trimmed more frequently.

In simple terms, trimming is the tidying up of hedges, small shrubs, and overgrown branches. Trimming is done aesthetics but sometimes it is done for safety reasons. Also, overgrowth reduces the amount of light and moisture a shrub receives and that can affect plant health.

Focus: pruning

Pruning s done primarily for safety reasons, the idea is to prevent dead, dying or decaying branches from harming other plants, people or causing property damage. Another reason pruning is done is to eliminate diseases, pest infestations and stimulate the tree. There are two forms of pruning:

  • Topiary: this is where you shape trees into geometric or animal shape
  • Pollarding: this is done annually to produce new shoots.

What to use?

Pruning and trimming can be done using a machete, electric chainsaw, battery-powered chainsaws, and other dangerous equipment. To avoid losing or if you have a small garden, this is what you need:

  • Pruning shears
  • Loppers
  • Pole pruner
  • Hedge sheers

When to do it

Normally, trimming should be done at least twice a year depending on the species. Flowering trees should be trimmed before blooming cycle begins. Light trimming can be done any time of the year, remember it’s all about looks.

Pruning, on the other hand, is best done during winter to avoid spreading disease. Depending on the species you should do it at least twice a year or when a tree poses a threat to you, property, or other people.

From far pruning and trimming are the same things, the terms are used interchangeably but they both refer to tree maintenance.

How Much Does Tree Removal Typically Cost?

On average, you might pay between $70 to $1,000 or more to have a tree removed in North America. But here is the thing, a standing tree will cost you much more to remove than a fallen true, for some, that’s enough motivation to get a machete and start hacking. but there are a number of things that you should consider, for example, what if that tree falls on your neighbor’s house, car or property? Or what if you injure yourself while doing the job?

The truth is there is no unified formula used to determine the exact cost of tree removal because there are a lot of factors at play. For example, how tall is the tree? What condition is it in and what will you do with the stump?

How tall is the tree?

The reason why tall trees cost much more to remove is self-explanatory. If you don’t get it, this is what I mean. A taller tree requires more manpower and care. A mistake or two can result in serious injury, death, or property damage. If there is a very tall tree growing in your yard and you want to remove it, the first thing you should do is remove the branches. This is dangerous work that can result in serious injury, so I advise you to hire someone who knows what he or she is doing.

If you choose to ignore that advice, what you should do is first remove all the branches. After that, cut the tree down.

60-80 foot tall trees normally cost anywhere from $400 to $1500 to remove in Canada. You have the option to hire someone to work per hour or per tree. Do the math and figure out which option suits your pocket best.

Extra services

Cutting down a tree is one job and removing the stump and debris is another. Before you hire someone it is important to make sure that you understand what you are getting yourself into and how much you have to pay.

There is also the issue of what to do with the stump, you can choose to leave it there or get it removed.

The cost of stump removal will depend on:

  • Soil
  • The health of the stump
  • Number of stumps
  • Age of the tree
  • Diameter
  • Root system

It can cost you anywhere from $30 to $1,000 or more depending on the factors mentioned above.

Who should do the job?

This type of work should only be done by an insured qualified cutter, remember this is a dangerous job that can result in serious injury or serious property damage. My advice, get estimates from cutters near you and pick a professional who fits your budget. You can cut cost by offering to do some of the work or by chopping the tree down yourself if it doesn’t pose a threat to anything near it.

Getting Professional Landscape Services

In my opinion, referrals are the best way to find a professional landscape service provider, why? Let’s assume that you hire a gardener today and he or she does a great job, if someone asks you who did that job you will be more willing to share, right?

Thanks to the internet it has now become easier to find professionals. Take Facebook for example, if you run a gardening business getting friends or followers can be difficult, however, if you provide excellent services and people are saying nice things about you. Finding followers or customers becomes easier.

That’s because you have proven yourself to be reliable or trustworthy. If let’s say 500 customers trust and follow you on social media it means that you must be doing something right. In simple terms what I am telling you is the first place you should look when hunting for professional landscape services is on social media.

How are these people any different from anybody else in this field?

That is the first question all consumers ask when searching for a service. That’s because as a consumer what you really want is value for money. The easiest way to find a service or professional who offers you value for money is to use social media sites like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. What you have to do is search for the service you are looking for by typing a phrase e.g. “landscape service” into a dialogue box and hit “search”. From there you will be taken to a list of service providers in your area. Look at what other customers are saying. It is a bad sign if most of the comments or reviews are bad. To avoid getting scammed you should Google the service along with “scam” if you get hits to avoid hiring that “professional”.

Look at how much effort they put into convincing you to buy their service, look at evidence of their previous work or simply drive around until you find a garden you like and ask the owner “who did the job?”

Experience

Cutting down a tree, landscaping or gardening doesn’t necessarily require you to have a college degree. What you need is someone with experience; a true professional is defined by a number of things including:

  • Customer satisfaction
  • Providing more than is asked of you (exceeding expectations)
  • Ability to deliver as promised
  • Ability to communicate effectively
  • Willingness to share knowledge

Knowledge is worthless if you keep it to yourself, a true professional is one who tells you how to solve a problem and how to keep it from happening again. Let’s assume that you hire someone to prune a tree in your backyard, he or she could do the job and leave it there. On the other hand, a professional will tell you what you can do to keep the problem from reoccurring or what might cause you problems in the future.

DIY Tree Maintenance Tips

Ever been to a forest? Some people including the president of the USA haven’t, remember that “rake the forest” fiasco? I ask that because forests are made up of lots of trees. Inside one you will notice that trees don’t follow rules, they just grow. Your land or property is not a forest meaning it is up you to ensure that the trees on it are in the right location and they don’t pose a threat to you, your home or someone else’s. That’s where tree maintenance comes in.

Tree maintenance or pruning /trimming is done to remove dead, weak, diseased, and crowded branches. In other words, it is “hazard elimination”. If you are a ‘tree owner’ there are a number of things that you should learn to do, they include:

  • Crown cleaning: this is the removal of diseased, dying, crowded or dead branches.
  • Crown reduction: if there are utility lines nearby crown reduction is done for clearance. The idea is to ensure that branches don’t touch power lines.
  • Cutting techniques:  learn how to remove large and thin branches.
  • The right time to prune or trim: do it at the wrong time and you might spread disease or kill the
  • Crown raising: learn how to remove lower branches from a tree to keep them from interfering with pedestrians, buildings vehicles, and three-year-olds.

Should you do your own trimming and maintenance?

 

When was the last time you climbed a tree? Yester

 

day, Two years ago, or maybe you have never climbed a tree. If that’s the case what makes you think that you can comfortably operate a chainsaw while hanging on for dear life with your other hand?

Maintaining tall trees is difficult to work, it is also dangerous. The risks involved are falling, electrocution, insect bites and sometimes death. So If I were you I’d leave tall trees to the professionals.

Small trees, on the other hand, are easy to maintain, you can do the occasional trimming or pruning without putting yourself at risk of death.

In general, you have to think about two things:

  • Maintain your own health: if you feel that the skill or what is required is more than you can dish out you should hire a professional.
  • Protecting the tree’s health: a tree is a living being meaning if you let’s say cut the top portions of it, the tree might die. In other words, you should know what you are doing.

What a tree care company can do

The problem with most DIY projects is sometimes they cause more problems than they solve, think about it, you may end up injuring yourself, causing property damage or you may make a very costly mistake. A tree care company helps you avoid problems with the law. Professionals are insured meaning you won’t have to pay for damages out of pocket if something goes bad and most importantly you won’t have to worry about dying or suffering serious injury.

Benefits of hiring a tree removal service

You have your machete, ax or chainsaw. Now it’s time to cut down that ugly tree. Two things might happen. One, nothing might go wrong or two, “anything that can go wrong will go wrong”. By that I mean that tree might fall and kill you, it might damage your home or someone else’s or police might come for you for cutting down a tree without a permit. And that might earn you a $100,000 fine.

Let’s face it cutting down a tree requires skills that most of us don’t have, think about it, you might think that the tree will fall one way and it falls the other way or what if there are bees or hornets living inside or the tree?

Generally what I am trying to tell you is. Just like us, trees get sick and die and sometimes they turn into hazards. To keep a hazard from turning into a disaster you should hire a tree removal service because of the following reasons:

The right tools in the wrong hands

Operating a chainsaw, backhoe and even a machete is not easy if you lack experience. Picture yourself climbing a 60-foot tree while holding a chainsaw.

To bring down a large tree safely you have to cut off the branches first and that requires you to climb all the way up to the top. In this new environment that you are not used to, a lot of bad things can happen. I am talking about:

  • Electrocution
  • Eye injuries
  • Amputations
  • Impact injuries
  • Deep Cuts
  • Falls
  • Scrapes
  • Poisoning
  • Stings and bites

For safety reasons, you should hire a tree removal service because:

  • It won’t result in your death
  • Professionals are insured meaning if things go wrong you won’t have to cover damage out-of-pocket.
  • They won’t cause property damage because they know what they are doing.
  • Can you get the job done?

Cutting down a tree is easy if you have the right skills and tools; the problem is removing the stump and bringing down the tree safely. Removing the stump might require you to get a hoe and do it manually or to use a backhoe or other equipment. If you have the skills and you want to save cash, you should go ahead and cut down the tree. However, if the tree is in a tricky location or if it poses a danger to your home or someone else you should not do it.

When it comes down to the stump, you have two options, one, you can leave it as it is and use it as a seat or table depending on the size or, two, you can choose to remove it. The question is how do you do that?

You have the following options:

  • Mechanically push or pull: this involves soaking the soil with lots of water and using grapple or chains to pull out the stump.
  • Use chippers or grinders: you can use self-propelled machines, stump grinders, or tow behind machines etc.
  • Accelerate ecological decay: enrich the soils around the stump.
  • Water and air excavation
  • Use soil saws or trenching
  • Burning: set it on fire using a petroleum-based accelerant
  • Accelerate chemical degradation: infuse the stump with potassium nitrate.

What to do with the dead tree?

After cutting down a tree, you will have no option but to clean up after yourself. This is hard and sometimes dangerous work which involves cutting up the branches into small pieces and disposing of.

All in all what I am telling you is it is safer and sometimes cheaper in the long run to hire a tree removal service.