Stump grinders are a crucial component for tree care professionals, homeowners, and landscaping contractors, and one of the primary pieces of equipment used by customers looking to remove dead, damaged, or overgrown trees from their yards.
For rental business owners, knowing which kind of stump grinder will benefit your customer and their project best is an important consideration. There are two types users can contemplate for the job — the commonly used wheeled handlebar stump grinder and a tracked walk-behind stump grinder. When removing a stump or multiple stumps in an area, renters could be faced with various stump ages, densities, and sizes.
As stump removal can be an incredibly labor-intensive process, the following factors from Jay Thaker, marketing manager at Toro, can help determine the right stump grinder for the operator and task at hand in order to tackle the job successfully.
Key Stump Factors
Age, density, and size of stumps
As a rule of thumb, trees that have been cut more recently can be more challenging to grind. Trees can also vary in density, and certain stumps can be denser than others, which in general makes it easier to grind. See why density and age need to be considered? Now, let's talk about size. Although smaller stump grinders can technically handle a larger stump, renters will need to consider the extra time needed to slowly chip away at a large trunk. It's much less labor- and time-intensive to use a larger unit if you have a larger tree stump to remove.
Depth of the grind
How deep you want to grind the stump below grade will also determine what type of stump grinder you should consider. If renters are looking to grind deep below grade, tracked stump grinders are the suggested option. However, if users would like to grind a smaller diameter stump just a few inches below grade, operators can use compact handlebar stump grinders to tackle the job.
Species of the tree
One thing to make note of is the species of the tree being cut down, as it can help determine how long it will take to grind the stump. Hardwood stumps are generally easier to grind because of the clean chips that are produced. Whereas, conifers such as pine and cedar, can be more time-consuming since softer woods shred rather than chip.
Types of Stump Grinders
Let's dive a bit more into the two styles of stump grinders. Both the wheeled handlebar and tracked walk-behind stump grinders are user-friendly options. Whether the job calls for a tracked or handlebar stump grinder, making sure the unit has sharp teeth ensures operators can make good time in any set of conditions.
Wheeled handlebar stump grinders are compact in size, easy to maneuver, and efficiently grind stumps to mulch. Their well-balanced design and easy-to-use controls ensure smooth operation. Handlebar stump grinders also feature convenient lift handles for easy transport and unique cutting technologies that combine smooth grinding with simple maintenance.
If users are looking to access stumps in tight places, like near a house, or a location where there are multiple trees, handlebar stump grinders would be a good option to consider. On some units, foldable handles allow compact transport in an SUV, car, truck, or minivan.The Toro Company
On the other hand, tracked walk-behind stump grinders perform much better on rough terrain and are able to complete complex jobs in a timely manner, but often require the use of a trailer for transport. The track design on these models better distributes the machine's weight, making them ideal for residential applications.
Some models, like Toro’s STX 26 and STX 38 EFI, feature technologies that automatically adjust the sweep speed based on how much load is applied to the wheel, so heavy cutting loads won't bog down the engine.
If users are looking for a more powerful grinder for removing larger stumps in a complex environment, make sure to look for a model that's built for durability in the toughest conditions.
Tips for Using Stump Grinders
Stump grinders are a great addition to a project, but they require some safety precautions. When operating stump grinders, operators need to keep in mind that they will throw chips. If they plan on working in close proximity to structures or other objects, you should remind them to protect or guard those in some way. Also, it is vital to ensure others in proximity of the grinding are at a safe distance and wearing appropriate protective equipment.
Here are some important reminders:
- Wear protective gear to protect from flying debris.
- Evaluate the proximity of the building to the stump when choosing which model to use.
- Ensure that there are not any bystanders entering the jobsite.
- If working with first-time users, keep an eye on them and the jobsite.
- When using a handlebar stump grinder, don't try to overpower it by using too much downward force, sweeping too fast, or grinding too deep too quickly. It is best to use a side-to-side sweeping motion at an inch in depth per pass.
- If renters have never operated a big, tracked walk-behind machine before, they will need to keep in mind how to use the machine on slopes. It's important to operate on up-and-down slopes with the front end of the machine facing the hill, where the cutting wheel is uphill at all times.
- And lastly, as always, make sure to read the operator instructions before use.
Article and information provided by The Toro Company and substantially edited by Alexis Brumm.