Which stump grinder is best?

When trees are removed to clear land or are knocked down by weather, the trunk, branches and leaves are taken away, but the stump and roots remain. Removing stumps and roots requires burning, lots of pulling power or strategically placed dynamite. An easier way is to grind the stump down and leave the roots in place to die. 

When you grind the stump down to below the surface of the turf, you are able to reclaim open space that you can use for many different purposes. If you’re looking for a stump grinder with an electric starter, take a look at the DK2 14-Inch 14 Horsepower Gas-Powered Commercial Stump Grinder.

What to know before you buy a stump grinder

Stump grinders work by running a multi-tooth cutting wheel across the stump to cut a path with a defined width and depth. You cut row by row with strong, sharp teeth that spin around a horizontal axis, much like a rotary saw does when cutting through lumber.

Stump grinding is noisy and messy

Make sure you have sturdy work gloves, a good pair of safety glasses and noise-rated ear protection. You can bury your ground-up chips where the roots were or collect them and use them when you need to absorb spilled oils and fuels.

Commercial vs. consumer stump grinder

  • Commercial stump grinders are usually far too large and powerful for a single person to operate safely and effectively. 
  • Consumer stump grinders are built to be operated by a single person, and so are limited in the size of stump they can manage.

Power

Grinding dense, hard woods requires enough power to drive the cutting wheel through the wood at high speeds. Most consumer-grade stump grinders are powered by gas engines in the 10-15 horsepower range. The more powerful your engine, the easier it is to grind stumps.

Size

Stump grinders can be as big as a truck or as small as a lawnmower. Bigger isn’t always better, though, so consider width and weight before deciding. 

  • Width: If you have an area that has lots of small trees, a small stump grinder will get you in and out of tight spots where a large one can’t go.
  • Weight: The more powerful the stump grinder, the heavier it is. Some weigh more than 500 pounds, so check the weight before you buy.

What to look for in a quality stump grinder

Safety features

For added safety, look for a stump grinder with a one-touch control that lets you stop the cutting wheel quickly if you encounter a grinding problem or a safety issue.

Transporting your stump grinder

Most consumer-level stump grinders can’t propel themselves from place to place. You have to get your stump grinder to where the stumps are either by pushing it, towing it, or transporting it in the back of a pickup truck. Look for stump grinders with larger tires, a towbar and well-mounted lift handles for easier transporting.

Cutting blade

  • Material: The harder the teeth, the better, so look for carbide steel. 
  • Number of teeth: The larger the diameter of the cutting blade, the larger the number of teeth, meaning the grinding is done more efficiently.
  • Depth of cut: The deeper you can cut with your grinder, the more complete the stump removal.

Starting mechanism

Most stump grinders have a rope and handle you pull to start the engine, like an old outboard motor. Look for stump grinders with electric starters — a huge help, especially in cold weather.

How much you can expect to spend on a stump grinder

Consumer models cost $1,500-$3,000, determined mostly by the horsepower and the size of the cutting wheel.

Stump grinder FAQ

What type of oil do I use in my stump grinder?

A. Most call for 10W-30 motor oil, but always safeguard your investment by following the manufacturer’s instructions.

How long do the grinding teeth stay sharp?

A. The process of grinding stumps wears the teeth on the cutting wheel. Depending on conditions, they work for five to 15 hours before they need indexing, and can be indexed twice before being sharpened or replaced.

What’s the best stump grinder to buy?

Top stump grinder 

Tools-Best DK2 14-Inch 14 Horsepower Gas-Powered Commercial Stump Grinder

DK2 14-Inch 14 Horsepower Gas-Powered Commercial Stump Grinder

What you need to know: The electric starter gets you going quickly and easily at the touch of a button.

What you’ll love: You can adjust the comfort bow handle to grind stumps up to 14 inches above ground and 10 inches below ground. The 12 high-speed carbide cutting teeth deliver 4-inch-wide cuts, the direct-drive belt eliminates clutch slippage and the wheel brake locks in place for pivot grinding. 

What you should consider: At 285 pounds, this can be a real handful to operate.

Where to buy: Sold by Home Depot

Top stump grinder for the money

Tools-Best Power King 11-Inch 14 Horsepower Kohler Gas-Powered Stump Grinder with Bonus Kit

Power King 11-Inch 14 Horsepower Kohler Gas-Powered Stump Grinder with Bonus Kit

What you need to know: This stump grinder comes with a weatherproof cover, removable tow bar and one set of replacement teeth. 

What you’ll love: Four lift handles make it easy for two people to get this stump grinder in and out of pickup-truck beds. The slap-stop button and shut-off latch provide two levels of safety. It has a locking throttle and a manual brake that assists when pivot cutting. This grinder powers nine tungsten blades to cut 11 inches above and 9 inches below ground. 

What you should consider: Some buyers wished for a better brake.

Where to buy: Sold by Home Depot

Worth checking out

Tools-Best DK2 12-Inch 14 Horsepower Gas Powered Commercial Stump Grinder Package

DK2 12-Inch 14 Horsepower Gas Powered Commercial Stump Grinder Package

What you need to know: This grinder comes with safety glasses, ear protection, work gloves, tools and an oil bottle.

What you’ll love: Direct drive powers the 12-inch, 50-pound carbide cutter head at 3,600 revolutions per minute. The heavy-duty steel frame and axle are reinforced to support a cutting height of 12 inches above ground and 9 inches below. It transports easily with dual locking wheels and has hitch pins for safe towing.

What you should consider: It doesn’t include a tow bar.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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David Allan Van writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

 

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