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Although cutting down a tree is a major job in itself, it’s actually relatively easy and a lot less work than removing a stump. As there is a lot more involved in removing a stump, it’s usually not included in the cost of removing a tree, even when you use professionals to do the job.
When you get a quote from professionals to cut down a tree, and you want them to also remove the stump and dispose of it, make sure that you specify this up front lest you assume that it’s included while it’s not.
Chances also are that tree felling experts only specialize in the actual cutting of the tree, and if you want the stump removed, you’ll have to get a quote from a different company. That is also why you’ll often find old stumps in yards. Although stump removal is not easy, it is certainly doable.
Our top choice for a stump removal axe:
Truper 31638 5-Pound Cutter Mattock with Fiberglass Handle
- 36-inch double injected fiberglass handle
- Rubber grip for improved handling and control
- 5-pound cutter / mattock head combo
- Cuts through shrub and tree roots and chews up stubborn soil
- Handle has shock absorbent “poly” guard to protect against overstrike damage
- Price: See Current Price on Amazon
Reasons to Remove a Stump
After deciding to have a tree removed, it does not make sense to leave the stump. Reasons to remove stumps from your yard include:
- They take up space – If you want the widest, clearest yards possible, stumps get in the way and make it very difficult to do proper landscaping.
- They pose a hazard – Although many stumps may be obvious, others, especially smaller ones get camouflaged by other plants and could become a tripping hazard. There’s nothing worse than stubbing a toe on an old tree stump.
- They are unsightly – No one likes looking out over their yard and seeing old stumps all over. They’ll look even worse once weeds and other plants have started growing on them, or when they are not completely dead and start making new shoots.
There are a number of ways in which this landscaping problem can be solved.
Hiring a company with a stump grinder can be very expensive and renting one for doing it yourself has two major drawbacks:
- Stump grinders are heavy.
- They can be very dangerous.
Another method to remove a tree stump is manually. Although this is a cheaper option, it has two disadvantages:
- It is labor intensive.
- Once the stump has been removed, it still has to be disposed of, and this could present a problem.
Removing a Stump manually
If you want to get rid of a small or medium sized stump, you’ll need an axe, a shovel, and a mattock. A mattock has a sharpened end for slicing and a broad end for digging. It will actually work better than a normal wood chopping axe as it has been designed to chop through the hard soil without damaging the edge.
Apart from these basic tools, a heavy steel bar is handy for leverage to pry out a small stump once you’ve loosened it. You might also want to use a small bow saw to cut roots you can’t reach with the mattock. For safety, a pair of gloves and steel-toed boots will provide adequate protection.
To leave yourself enough leverage, don’t cut a stump down to ground level. Once you have the required tools ready, follow these steps to remove the stump:
- Use the mattock’s broad end to dig around the stump.
- Once the dirt has been loosened, shovel it out of the way. You’ll have to clear away a lot of soil to gain access to all the roots that need cutting.
- Use the sharpened end of the mattock to chop your way through the tree roots.
- Keep on digging and chopping your way under the root ball to the taproot.
- Chop through the taproot with a stump removal axe. To avoid injury, make sure there are no people, pets, and objects around before you start swinging the axe. Aim the ax carefully so that it does not strike dirt, thereby dulling the blade.
- You could also cut the taproot with a bow saw. Although it might take longer, it’s not as dangerous, and sometimes the space available makes this the better option.
For stumps left behind by large trees, manual removal is normally not an option. You might want to attempt attaching a chain to a large stump and pulling it out with a vehicle once it has been loosened, but this could be a dangerous operation that could easily damage the truck.
Removing a tree stump manually involves a lot of digging, sawing, and chopping, and not everyone will be physically capable of doing this. To learn more about removing a tree stump manually, check out this video
There are a number of good mattocks and axes available for removing stumps. For us, the Truper 31638 5-Pound Cutter Mattock with Fiberglass Handle stands out from the rest as it is well made and heavy enough to make your grubbing job easier. The price was a nice surprise as it was much less than what we would have expected to pay for an item of this quality.
This Cutter Mattock, or as some call it, an Axe Hoe, is made to an amazingly high quality. It makes dealing with tree roots a lot easier than any other tool that I’ve used. While similar tools typically only weigh 3.5lbs, the Truper Cutter Mattock weighs in at a solid 5lbs. The extra weight makes a huge difference, both when digging out the soil around the stump, and when cutting off the roots. When comparing this tool to others, the cutter mattock digs better, its weight allows you to drive it in farther without effort, and because the handle is so long, you get more leverage with it for prying up the stump when it starts coming loose.
When buying the Truper Cutter Mattock, you need to be aware that the heads only come partially sharpened. Although this might be enough for the job given the weight and the long handle, you might want to get out your belt sander, or grinding wheel to sharpen them some more. The fiberglass handle is also excellent quality and very durable, and seated very nicely, making for a comfortable yet solid feel. The rubber grips are also very handy and prevents the tool sliding from your grasp. We’ve spent hours investigating which axe would be the best for manual stump removal, and this is definitely the best, at the best price.
If you decide to remove one stump from your yard by hand, you might as well remove all of them, presuming of course that you do have more than one. Although the job can be done by yourself, you should weigh the time, cost and effort required to do so. Even if you have to buy or rent the tools to get the job done, hiring professionals to do it instead will likely still cost a lot more.
If at the end of the day you do decide to tackle the job yourself, it makes sense to make sure you get the best possible tools for the job. With the Truper 31638 5-pound cutter mattock with fiberglass handle, you can’t go wrong.