The Best Stump Grinders of 2022

Make quick work of those tree stumps in your yard with one of these top stump grinders.

By Tony Carrick | Published Jan 31, 2022 7:53 PM

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Best Stump Grinder

Photo: homedepot.com

Investing in a stump grinder may not make sense for homeowners who just have a stump or two they need to remove after taking out a tree in the yard. But those with larger properties in wooded areas who may need to remove a few stumps a year can benefit from owning a grinder as opposed to paying for stump removal, which can cost as much as $500 per stump. Stump grinders use 14 horsepower engines to power a grinder that can grind stumps up to 20 inches high as deep as 12 inches into the ground. This guide will explore what factors one should consider when shopping for a machine that will remove those unsightly stumps from the yard while reviewing some of the best stump grinders on the market.

  1. BEST OVERALL: DK2 14 HP Gas Powered Commercial Stump Grinder
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Power King Kohler Gas Powered Stump Grinder
  3. BEST RESIDENTIAL: Bluebird Honda Stump Grinder
  4. BEST COMMERCIAL: DK2 14 HP Gas Powered Commercial Stump Grinder
  5. BEST TOWABLE: NorthStar Stump Grinder
  6. BEST COMPACT: DR Stump Grinder Premier
best stump grinders

Photo: northerntool.com

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Stump Grinder

The horsepower of a stump grinder’s engine, along with the height and depth it can grind, are key considerations when shopping for the best stump grinder. Ahead, learn more about these and other important attributes of stump grinders.

Types of Stump Grinders

Stump grinders come in three types: handlebar, track, and riding. Handlebar stump grinders, also called walk-behind stump grinders, consist of a large handlebar from which the operator controls the grinder, two wheels that support the motor, and a large spinning blade that grinds the stump. The operator tilts the grinder backward to maneuver it into place then lowers it to begin grinding. Handlebar stump grinders are best suited for smaller stumps. A track stump grinder sits on two large tracks, not unlike a tank. The operator maneuvers the grinder via a wired remote control or controls mounted to the rear of the machine. Riding stump grinders have a cockpit in which the operator sits to control the grinder. Riding and track stump grinders can cost tens of thousands of dollars, making them more suitable for commercial use.

Horsepower

Most engines on a handlebar stump grinder range between 10 and 15 horsepower. Stump grinders with more horsepower are able to power larger cutting disks, giving them the ability to cut through larger stumps faster. Stump grinders that have more horsepower are typically large track stump grinders designed for commercial use.

Power Transmission System

When considering stump grinders, you’ll find self-propelled models as well as walk-behind grinders. Smaller handlebar stump grinders require the user to manually push the machine while larger track models are self-propelled, allowing the operator to drive the grinder into place via remote control or side-mounted controls.

Size and Cutting Capacity

The size of the grinder’s cutting wheel determines how quickly it can remove a stump as well as how deep it can cut. Grinders can generally cut to depths that are a few inches less than the size of the blade. For example, a 12-inch grinder can reach a maximum depth of 9 inches. There are some models with designs that allow them to cut to depths equal to the size of the blade. Track stump grinders and riding stump grinders, the largest of the three types, can cut to depths ranging from 10 to 30 inches, heights of 20 to 50 inches, and widths of between 45 and 80 inches. Walk-behind stump grinders have a smaller cutting capacity with cutting depths ranging from 5 to 16 inches and heights of 10 to 20 inches, making them suitable for smaller stumps.

Frame Durability

Stump grinders generate a significant amount of torque to power the cutting wheel that grinds out stumps. This force places a significant amount of stress on the machine. The best walk-behind stump grinders have heavy-gauge steel frames that are able to endure repeated use without falling apart.

Ease of Use

Stump grinders are considered heavy machinery, with most weighing well over 100 pounds. Weight is vital to consider as most stump grinders for residential use are not power-assisted and require the operator to push them into position. Weights for handlebar grinders range from as little as 125 pounds to more than 400 pounds. Stump grinders have features designed to make them easier to move, including large pneumatic tires and adjustable handlebars.

Additional Features

Stump grinders come with features that make them safer and easier to use, including auto-stop safety bars that operate similarly to safety bars on a walk-behind lawn mower, shutting off the engine to prevent injury when the operator removes pressure from the bar. Track-style stump grinders have swing-out control stations and remote controls that allow the user to operate the grinder from a safe distance. Heavier stump grinders are equipped with tow bars and large wheels that allow the user to hitch the machine to a truck for transport to the job site.

Best Stump Grinder

Photo: northerntool.com

Our Top Picks

The list below narrows the field to some of the best stump grinders for mostly residential use as well as one of the best professional stump grinders. These stump grinders have durable heavy-gauge steel construction, can grind stumps at least 6 inches below ground level, and have features that make them easier to use. Read on to find out the best stump grinder to buy regardless of your needs.

Best Overall

The Best Stump Grinder Option: DK2 14 HP Power Gas Powered Commercial Stump Grinder
Photo: homedepot.com

A sturdy build coupled with a powerful engine make this model from DK2 one of the best walk-behind stump grinder options for removing small- to medium-size stumps. Its 14-horsepower engine drives a 12-inch cutting wheel that’s capable of cutting to depths of 9 inches and heights of 12 inches. A wheel brake locks the grinder into position, giving it a sturdy base from which to operate. Durability is crucial when it comes to stump grinders, and the DK2 is one of the sturdiest thanks to a 16-gauge steel frame that adds durability. Though this stump grinder is not self-propelled, its rugged 14-inch tires and relatively light weight make it manageable for moving around the yard. To cover larger distances, the DK2 is fitted with a 1 7/8 ball hitch that allows it to be towed behind a vehicle. Product Specs

  • Engine: 14 horsepower
  • Cutting wheel: 12 inches
  • Type: Manual handlebar

Pros

  • Sturdy 16-gauge steel construction
  • Tow-bar attachment included
  • Powerful 14-hp engine

Cons

  • Not self-propelled

Get the DK2 14 HP Commercial Stump Grinder at The Home Depot or on Amazon.

Best Bang For The Buck

The Best Stump Grinder Option: Power King Kohler Gas Powered Stump Grinder
Photo: homedepot.com

Despite being more affordable than other stump grinders, this Power King isn’t lacking in power, thanks to a 14-horsepower engine. That engine powers a 12-inch blade that can dig 9 inches below the surface or reach heights up to 20 inches, putting it on par with other higher-priced stump grinders. The Power King’s controls include a lockable throttle set close to the handlebar, making it easy to adjust blade speed. With its heavy-gauge steel construction, the Power King is built like a tank. It’s also as heavy as one at nearly 400 pounds, making the Power King a more difficult stump grinder to maneuver around the yard. With that in mind, it makes sense to spring for the tow-bar accessory that allows the Power King to be hitched to a truck. Product Specs

  • Engine: 14 horsepower
  • Cutting wheel: 12 inches
  • Type: Manual handlebar

Pros

  • Affordably priced
  • Capable of grinding tall stumps with a max height of 20 inches
  • Easy to operate the throttle

Cons

  • Heavier and harder to maneuver than other stump grinders

Get the Power King Kohler Gas Powered Grinder at The Home Depot or ChippersDirect.com.

Best Residential

The Best Stump Grinders Option: Bluebird Honda Stump Grinder
Photo: homedepot.com

Honda is well-known for its efficient, durable, and powerful small engines, which can be found on lawn mowers, snowblowers, generators, and also stump grinders. The Bluebird’s 13-horsepower Honda engine produces excellent torque while being easier to start and more fuel efficient than other stump grinders. Whereas most handlebar stump grinders have a 12-inch blade, the Bluebird boasts a 14-inch grinder, which is capable of chewing through stumps up to 12 inches deep. The Bluebird’s powerful engine sits atop a heavy-gauge steel frame and two sets of 12-inch knobby pneumatic tires. The Bluebird weighs just 250 pounds; despite its large engine, it’s markedly lighter than other handlebar grinders, which can weigh upward of 400 pounds. That light weight coupled with an adjustable handlebar makes maneuvering the Bluebird around the yard a more manageable task. Product Specs

  • Engine: 13 horsepower
  • Cutting wheel: 14 inches
  • Type: Manual handlebar

Pros

  • Capable of grinding to depths of up to 12 inches
  • Light weight makes it easier to maneuver than other grinders
  • Powerful Honda engine

Cons

  • Expensive compared to other handlebar grinders

Get the Bluebird Honda Stump Grinder at Chippers Direct.

Best Commercial

The Best Stump Grinder Option: DK2 14 HP Gas Powered Commercial Stump Grinder
Photo: homedepot.com

With its large detachable tow bar, the DK2 is a great choice for those looking to grind stumps in remote locations. It rests on two heavy-duty 14-inch ATV wheels that make it easier to tow or push over off-road terrain. The DK2 comes equipped with a 14-inch blade that cuts to heights of up to 14 inches and depths of 10 inches. Unlike other stump grinders that have pull-start engines, the DK2’s 14-horsepower engine is easier to start thanks to a push-button electric start. With its wide 4-inch cutting width and a wheel brake system that allows for pivot grinding, this grinder is well suited for handling wider trunks. Like DK2’s other stump grinders, this model is durably constructed with a heavy-gauge steel frame. Product Specs

  • Engine: 14 horsepower
  • Cutting wheel: 14 inches
  • Type: Manual handlebar

Pros

  • Includes detachable tow bar
  • Large ATV-style wheels
  • Push-button electric start

Cons

  • Heavy weight makes it difficult to move

Get the DK2 Commercial Stump Grinder at The Home Depot and at Lowe’s.

Best Towable

The Best Stump Grinder Option: NorthStar Stump Grinder
Photo: northerntool.com

A professional stump grinder must be able to reach greater depths and heights to handle larger stump removal projects. With its powerful Honda engine, the NorthStar is worthy of such jobs. It boasts a 14-inch cutting wheel that can reach heights of 20 inches or dig to up to 16 inches below ground, making it one of the best commercial stump grinder options. The NorthStar’s great grinding range is the result of a centrifugal clutch that provides greater torque and a side discharge that gets cuttings out of the way to prevent clogs when digging deep. Other features include a banded drive belt that reduces vibration while preventing potential rollovers during operation. Tow bars are a must for a commercial grinder, and this model is well equipped for travel thanks to large wheels and a long tow bar. Product Specs

  • Engine: 14 horsepower
  • Cutting wheel: 14 inches
  • Type: Manual handlebar

Pros

  • Can cut to a height of 20 inches and depth of 16 inches
  • Large wheels and a long towbar
  • Banded belt drive reduces vibrations
  • Honda engine

Cons

  • Expensive

Get the NorthStar Stump Grinder at Northern Tool.

Best Compact

The Best Stump Grinder Option: DR Stump Grinder Premier
Photo: drpower.com

Stump grinders are difficult machines to operate due to their weight, with some manual push models tipping the scales at 400 pounds. A compact size and smaller 6.6-horsepower engine give this grinder a weight of just 124 pounds, making it one of the best small stump grinder choices on the market. This compact size coupled with large 15-inch tires makes this stump grinder much easier to maneuver around the yard. Despite its light weight, the DR Stump Grinder is surprisingly durable, thanks to the 12-gauge steel construction of its frame. Of course, a smaller size doesn’t come without trade-offs. The DR Stump grinder can reach a maximum height of 12 inches and dig up to 8 inches below ground, which is less range than larger grinders. Product Specs

  • Engine: 14 horsepower
  • Cutting wheel: 14 inches
  • Type: Manual handlebar

Pros

  • Small size and light weight make it easy to maneuver
  • Large pneumatic tires
  • Frame constructed from heavy-gauge steel

Cons

  • Shallower digging depth

Get the DR Stump Grinder at DR Power.

Our Verdict

With its 14-horsepower engine and ability to cut to depths of 9 inches and heights of 12 inches along with durable heavy-gauge steel construction, the DK2 Gas Powered Commercial Grade Stump Grinder a worthy choice for ridding one’s yard of tree stumps. Those looking for a stump grinder that’s smaller and more manageable should consider the DR Stump Grinder Premier, which is one of the best small stump grinders.

How We Chose the Best Stump Grinders

In reviewing more than a dozen stump grinders, we used a variety of criteria to narrow the field to produce our list of the top options. Grinding stumps requires a significant amount of torque, so we limited our search to those grinders with powerful engines of at least 14 horsepower. This engine size allows grinders to reach depths of at least 8 inches and as much as 16 inches, which is enough to handle small- to medium-size tree stumps. Stump grinders are heavy by nature, but they shouldn’t be so heavy that a single person can’t safely operate the machine. With that in mind, we stuck with stump grinders with manageable weights as well as models that feature hitch options that allow them to be towed to and from the job site. Finally, durability was a key factor in our selection process. Grinding out stumps puts tremendous strain on machinery, so we stuck with models made from heavy-gauge steel that can endure repeated use without falling apart.

Tips for Using the Best Stump Grinder

A stump grinder can make quick work of that ugly stump in the middle of the yard, but only if it’s operated correctly. Stump grinders are dangerous machines. First and foremost, take the necessary safety precautions by wearing safety goggles, ear protection, and clothing that covers exposed skin. While the machine has safeguards to protect the operator, such as guards that block debris and auto-shutoff bars, they won’t prevent harm to bystanders. Cordon off the area around the stump removal area to prevent people or pets from getting too close. Stump grinders are made to grind stumps, not rocks. Remove any stones, rocks, or debris from around the stump that may damage the grinder’s blades. A stump grinder may do the job of grinding up the stump, but you’ll need other tools to assist, including a rake, shovel, and chainsaw.

  • Wear the appropriate safety gear
  • Put boundaries around the area to keep people and pets at a safe distance
  • Remove rocks and debris from around the stump
  • Have a rake, shove, and chainsaw handy

FAQs

If you’re wondering why stump grinders cost so much or just how deep into the earth you need to grind that stump, read on for answers to these and other questions about this heavy machinery.

Q. How far down do you grind a stump?

Generally speaking, you should grind a stump down 4 to 6 inches below ground level. This depth is deep enough to remove the stump from view while allowing for fill to be applied on top of it and, if desired, grass to grow.

Q. Why are stump grinders so expensive?

Stump grinders are heavy machinery that require large blades and powerful engines to drive that blade. Larger engines and the hard metals required for stump grinder blades drive the price of the grinder up.

Q. Does stump grinding attract termites?

Not really. While stump grinding does create material termites like to feed on, grinding the stump doesn’t release any scents or create an environment that would necessarily attract termites.

Q. What can I do with shavings from stump grinding?

The best use for stump shavings is as mulch in surrounding landscaping. Stump shavings, like the mulch you buy at the store, help soil retain moisture while serving as an excellent weed barrier.

Q. Can I use a stump grinder in the rain?

You can use a stump grinder in the rain—just keep in mind that the weight of the grinder can make it difficult to push in soft soil. The grinder can become stuck or may sink into the ground if it’s too wet.