A stump grinder is a handy machine that homeowners and professionals use to remove tree stumps. In our guide to the best stump grinders, you will find out the best machines to remove tree stumps that are becoming an eyesore in your yard.
We will take a deep dive into how the stump grinder works, the different types available, how to use these machines safely, and we will look at various stump grinder models.
Towards the end, we will provide answers to some common stump grinder questions.
What is a Stump Grinder?
A stump grinder is a machine that is used to clear tree stumps, and many homeowners please this machine over other methods.
Having a tree stump in your yard can be a major eyesore, or it could be located in a place that you need to clear. There are other tools and ways of removing stumps, but a stump grinder is a cost-effective but efficient option for many people.
It works by crushing the wood from the stump to safely and efficiently removes tree stumps in all sorts of locations.
There are different types of stump grinders on the market, and some can look similar to a lawnmower, while others are much larger and designed for heavy-duty work.
Two of the most common types of stump grinders are:
- Handlebar stump grinders
- Tracked stump grinders
Let’s look at both of these machines in a bit more detail.
What are the Different Types of Stump Grinders?
Handlebar Stump Grinders
A handlebar stump grinder is often among the smaller machines on the market, and this is why homeowners please them. The compact size makes it much simpler to move around your yard while it also allows for better storage.
You won’t need any towing equipment to move this stump grinder around, so users can easily remove stumps pretty much anywhere.
These stump grinders are ideal for removing stumps around 14” high.
This type of stump grinder is generally cheaper, more affordable, and better suited for removing smaller tree stumps.
Tracked Stump Grinders
The other stump grinder type is a tracked stump grinder.
These machines are much more powerful and are a lot better for removing larger tree stumps – you will often find many professional companies using one of these models.
Usually, these stump grinders have hydraulic controllers and provide better stability due to their more considerable weight and size. You will need a lot of space to store a tracked stump grinder, and transporting it around can prove challenging too.
Most tracked stump grinders can grind down stumps up to 32” high.
If you need to remove more giant stumps on a regular basis, this is the type of stump grinder you should go for. While they do cost a lot more money, they big up and cut through wood with ease, but do come with some downsides, namely the price and difficulty in transporting.
Things to Consider when Buying a Stump Grinder
We are going to list the top stump grinders on the market later on; however, before you try and figure out which one to buy, there are many things to consider first.
Type of Work
How large or small the job will determine the type of stump grinder you need to buy.
If you simply need one for minor residential jobs and the machine only needs to remove small tree stumps, a handlebar stump grinder is probably your best option. They are cheaper, easy to move around and work well to remove small and some medium-sized stumps.
However, if you require a stump grinder regularly and intend to get rid of larger and tougher tree stumps, a tracked model is better for your needs. Even though this type of stump grinder will cost more money and be harder to transport and move around, they do a much better job of getting rid of tough stumps.
Like all types of machinery, stump grinders will require some sort of maintenance every once in a while.
How much will depend on the type of stump grinder you buy, the manufacturer, model, and how you use the machine. While stump grinders don’t require as much maintenance as other tools, some work will be involved to keep the machine in top shape months and years down the line.
Ensure to read the product descriptions and reviews before you make a purchase. You won’t want to spend a lot of money on a stump grinder only to find that it requires regular maintenance that might take a significant amount of time.
Some of the most common types of maintenance involved with a stump grinder include sharpening or replacing the cutting teeth, which can break or become dull with frequent use. Other maintenance tasks can include removing debris and checking engine oil and coolant.
The cost is a factor that you should consider when buying any type of outdoor machine or tool.
Our best advice is to set a budget and stick to it as much as you can. This will ensure that you aren’t spending more money than necessary.
However, you need to weigh this up with the quality and reliability of the stump grinder you intend to buy. If spending a few more dollars can result in purchasing a much better machine that is more efficient, powerful, and requires less maintenance, then this can be worth it in the long run.
Many people feel that power is the most important thing to look for in a stump grinder, and while it is a vital aspect to consider, it can be focused on too much.
You should avoid low-powered models as much as you can as they will take a lot more time and effort to remove even small tree stumps. You might even need to use other tools such as a chainsaw to get rid of tough stumps with a model that doesn’t exert much power.
A gas engine usually powers stump grinders. Looking at the power of the machine is essential, but don’t get too fixated on it. While the more powerful engine will grind stumps down quicker, it isn’t always ideal for durability and keeping the stump grinder efficient in the future.
Lastly, consider any additional features that you might want from a stump grinder.
The extra features you get – such as ergonomic handles, extra cutting teeth, or particular wheel types – will vary from model to model. There aren’t many gimmick features with a stump grinder as it is there to do one job and do that job well, but do have a look to find out what else you are getting for your money.
Some grinders even come with various safety equipment included in the price. Another feature to consider is the warranty. Some stump grinders – such as Dr Stump Grinder – comes with a very good warranty, while others will only last a few months.
You won’t want it to break down after a short period of time only to find out that it is out of the warranty period.
The Major Differences Between Stump Grinders and Stump Buckets
We find that many people aren’t entirely sure of the differences between a stump bucket and a stump grinder.
After all, they are both designed to remove tree stumps.
The main difference is in how they work. The stump bucket is an attachment for a tractor or skid steer, and it is designed to remove the stump by brute force. This means ripping into the root systems and the ground to excavate a tree stump.
A stump grinder wears the stump down and won’t have as much power as a stump bucket which rams into the ground with the help of a skid steer. It won’t remove the entire root system.
This is why a stump grinder is much more popular with homeowners and is used for smaller jobs, whereas a stump bucket is only suited for DIY work if you already have a tractor or skid steer.
Advantages of Using a Stump Grinder
Using a stump grinder for tree stump removal has several advantages over other machines, tools, and attachments.
- Quick – Stump grinders are often very quick and efficient in removing tree stumps. They can wear the stump down and make for easy extraction compared to some other methods.
- It can be cheaper – It depends on what model you buy; however, a stump grinder can often be more affordable than other machines and attachments. This is especially true for handlebar stump grinders that are used in residential settings for DIY stump removal jobs.
- Environmentally-friendly – A stump grinder is much more eco-friendly than using harsh chemicals that aren’t good for the ground or the environment when removing a tree stump. You don’t risk ruining the ground or poisoning other plants, grass, or wildlife in the area.
- Mulch creation – Grinding down tree stumps creates mulch which you can reuse for several practical and aesthetic things around your garden.
The Disadvantages of Using a Log Splitter
Stump grinders are very efficient and effective, but there are some disadvantages to using this type of machine.
- It is often not ideal for large stumps – It depends on the model you buy, as tracked stump grinders do a great job of removing pretty big stumps. However, they are expensive, and attachments for tractors and skid steers like a stump bucket can make more sense if you regularly remove extra-large stumps.
- It won’t remove the roots – With a stump grinder, you are grinding the wood down; however, it won’t cut into the overall root system. This can leave roots behind, which can decay and cause issues for the surrounding area.
Safety Tips for Using a Stump Grinder
Stump grinders can be dangerous machines if they aren’t used in the correct way. We have crafted some safety tips you should follow when using a stump grinder.
Secure the Area
You should ensure that any children or pets are well away from the area that you will be using the stump grinder in. They are dangerous machines if used in the wrong hands or if anyone interferes with them while in operation.
Read the Instructions First
Don’t just fire up your stump grinder and use it immediately without looking at the proper safety instructions. Make sure you go through all the documentation and operating instructions and advice first, as this can be the difference between using this machine safely and causing an accident.
Avoid Applying Too Much Force
If you are using a handlebar stump grinder, ensure that you don’t use too much downward force to try to grind the wood quicker. This can cause it to slip and potentially cause an accident or bite into something you didn’t intend to. Instead, using a smooth side-to-side motion to grind down the tree stump.
Ensure it is Turned off Before Adding Fuel or Checking Cutting Teeth
Don’t try and top up fuel or mess about with the working of the stump grinder when it is in operation or shortly after you have finished. Wait a while after you have used it to top it up and if you are checking the cutting blades or other parts, ensure that it is completely switched off and cooled down.
Wear Appropriate Safety Equipment
When using any machinery, tools, or attachments, you should also have the correct safety equipment. When using a stump grinder, this safety equipment includes:
- Hard hat
- Hearing protection
- Steel toe-cap boots
Don’t operate a stump grinder if you don’t have the right safety wear on, as it can cause injuries that might have been avoided if you were properly protected.
My Top Recommendations for Stump Grinders in 2021
15HP Gas Powered Walk Behind Stump Grinder – Best Heavy-duty Handlebar Stump Grinder
Our top pick for a handlebar stump grinder is the 15HP Gas Powered Walk Behind Stump Grinder .
If you require a handlebar stump grinder for heavy-duty use, this is the model to opt for. It provides a powerful 15HP engine combined with nine teeth in the 12″ Cutting Wheel. This stump grinder will grind down more stumps with ease, and it does offer more power and efficiency than many other handlebar grinders.
This model is also adjustable, and you will find that it comes with tri-cut dual bolted teeth. A big bonus if getting this stump bucket is that it comes with various safety equipment and features which includes:
- Oil bottle
- Work gloves
- Ear protection
- Safety keys
- Safety glasses
A downside of using this stump grinder is that it is more geared toward professionals and those who have used this type of machine before. It isn’t particularly beginner-friendly, so you should probably look elsewhere.
There are also hitch pins and dual locking wheels for easy maneuverability.
However, this is a stump grinder which professionals and heavy-duty uses can operate to maximum effect.
- Heavy duty stump grinder
- It comes with various safety equipment and features
- Ideal for professionals
- Adjustable for different types of tree stumps
- This stump grinder isn’t designed for beginners
DK2 Power Gas Powered Certified Commercial Frame Stump Grinder – Best for Quick DIY Jobs
This stump grinder is an excellent choice if you want a machine to grind down tree stumps at home quickly.
The DK2 Power Gas Powered Certified Commercial Frame Stump Grinder has a decent 14HP engine alongside a 12 inch, 50-pound cutting head. This machine can grind down even tough stumps with ease, and if you want a powerful model to use at home and for DIY jobs, it is difficult to go wrong with this stump grinder.
You will also get various pieces of safety equipment when you purchase this machine, including ear protection, safety glasses, and gloves, so you will be well prepared to get rid of that ghastly stump in your yard.
There is some assembly required with this machine, but it is pretty easy to put together.
You will find more heavy-duty stump grinders on the market, but for DIY jobs, it is difficult to see past this model for both price and performance.
- Great for DIY jobs at home
- Powerful motor and cutting teeth
- Will remove tree stumps of various sizes
- It comes with safety equipment
- Does require some assembly
- Might struggle with regular, professional use
TORO 2011 Stump Grinder – Best for Noise Reduction
Let’s face it, any type of outdoor work such as using a wood chipper or removing tree stumps is going to be noisy.
However, you can purchase a stump grinder that makes less noise than others, and this is why we have included the TORO 2011 Stump Grinder on our list. This stump grinder isn’t completely silent, but it does make less noise than some other models so it could be suited to a residential setting.
The low noise isn’t the only significant feature of this machine. It also comes with a decent Honda GX390 13HP engine, and its robust nature makes grinding down stumps a breeze. The Honda engine is also noted for its lifespan and durability.
One thing we particularly like about this stump grinder is the lift handles which make loading and unloading this machine a lot easier. It is easy to move around and is compact enough to fit into small spaces as well.
We don’t have many downsides to this stump grinder other than it is an older model, so you aren’t getting the latest version; however, if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it, and this stump grinder does a great job.
- It doesn’t generate a lot of noise
- Grinds small and large stumps effectively
- It can be moved around easily
- It doesn’t have many extra features
DOSKO 200 Series – Best Mini Stump Grinder
For anyone that simply needs to remove some small stumps and doesn’t want to pay a considerable price for a stump grinder, have a look at the DOSKO 200 Series.
This compact stump grinder is excellent for getting rid of little stumps, and it comes with a 200cc Honda GX200 engine. You won’t use this grinder on large stumps as it will be pretty ineffective, but it is speedy and efficient when grinding down timber it can handle.
Some other advantages of using a mini-stump grinder are that it can be stored easily and moved around without any problems due to its smaller nature.
- Perfect for small stumps
- Easy maneuverability
- Fast and efficient
- Can’t handle anything other than small stumps
Generac ST47019GENG Pro Stump Grinder – Best Beginner Friendly Stump Grinder
The Generac ST47019GENG Pro Stump Grinder is our beginner-friendly version if you haven’t used a stump bucket before.
This machine features intuitive controls. Once you read over all the instructions and documentation, using this stump grinder is a breeze, and any complex processes won’t hamper you. This is also a very lightweight model, and it can be easily moved around without the user getting tired.
Aside from this, you will also find carbide-tipped cutting teeth and a powerful gas engine. This stump grinder will work against a variety of different tree stumps, just because it is beginner-friendly doesn’t mean it won’t work effectively.
The downside is that it is quite an expensive model. There are pricier options out there, but you pay extra for the novice-friendly design, controls, and operation of the Generac ST47019GENG.
- Budget-friendly stump grinder
- Has intuitive controls and easy operation
- Powerful and works against various tree stumps
- Lightweight and easy to move
- This stump grinder does cost a lot of money
- It isn’t suited to particularly large stumps
Hoc STG13 Stump Grinder – Best Stump Grinder for Different Handle Positions
It is unlikely that you can find a stump grinder with the perfect handle height to suit you; however, you will be pretty close with the Hoc STG13 Stump Grinder.
This machine is our top pick for an adjustable handle height as it offers an ergonomic design coupled with four different positions. Even if they aren’t perfect, this gives you much more options than many other models.
This isn’t the only plus point for the stump grinder, as it also features the GX390 13 hp engine so it can grind down stumps pretty quickly. With eight cutting teeth and a cutting depth of 12 inches, you can tackle some serious stumps with this machine.
According to some users, there are some durability issues found with this stump grinder, so that is something to keep in mind.
- Provides four height positions
- Ergonomic handles
- decent sized engine
- Can grind stumps up to 12 inches
- Has some durability issues
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: How does a Stump Grinder Work?
The stump grinder has a powerful engine that grinds down tree stumps. It works differently from a stump bucket which uses raw force to dig into root systems and excavate stumps.
Question: Is Stump Grinder Effective?
Answer: Yes. A stump grinder is very effective at wearing down tree stumps and creating mulch. One area in which it does fall down is that it won’t attack the root systems as well as other machines, and you will be left with some exposed roots.
Question: Is it Safe to Use a Log Splitter?
Answer: Certainly. You should also read the manufacturer’s instructions and ensure that you have the proper safety equipment before operating a stump grinder. However, as long as you follow the guidelines, it is a safe machine to use.
Question: How are Stump Powered Grinders?
Answer: A stump grinder can be powered by different sources; however, the most common fuel source is gas, and most stump grinders have a gas engine.
Question: Can I Grind other Materials with a Stump Grinder?
Answer: No. A stump grinder is designed to be used purely for tree stumps. If you use it on materials other than wood and tree, you run the risk of damaging the machine and causing harm to yourself and others around you.
Question: Is a Stump Grinder Expensive to Buy?
Answer: It depends on several factors. Handlebar stump grinders are generally cheaper than heavy-duty tracked stump grinders. The manufacturer, additional features, and other variables can cause the price of a stump grinder to increase. Although, there are many budget options available.
Conclusion: The Best Stump Grinders
A stump grinder is a fantastic tool if you don’t have a tractor or skid steer for a stump bucket and want to effectively remove tree stumps. They can be used for one-off DIY jobs or on an ongoing basis for professional use.
There are many different stump grinders on the market, but our top picks are:
- Best heavy-duty handlebar stump grinder – 15HP Gas Powered Walk Behind Stump Grinder.
- Best for quick DIY jobs – DK2 Power Gas Powered Certified Commercial Frame Stump Grinder
- Best for noise reduction – TORO 2011 Stump Grinder
- Best mini stump grinder – DOSKO 200 Series
- Best Beginner Friendly Stump Grinder – Generac ST47019GENG Pro Stump Grinder
- Best stump grinder for different handle positions – Hoc STG13 Stump Grinder
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