How Much Does Tree Stump Removal Cost? Cost to Remove a Tree Stump, Explained
Depending on several factors, such as the diameter of the tree stump and how accessible it is, the typical tree stump removal cost ranges from $167 to $503, with the national average right around $327.
- Typical Range: $167 to $503
- National Average: $327
Whether a tree comes down on its own—perhaps during a storm or due to disease—or is taken down deliberately, it often leaves something behind: the stump. Once a tree is gone, many homeowners want the stump to follow suit because it can detract from the beauty of their lawn and can even pose a hazard.
Generally, stump removal involves using heavy machinery to pull up the entire stump and some of the root system, but other methods may work in the right circumstance.
No two trees are exactly alike; thus, tree stump removal varies. Some of the multiple aspects that contribute to price fluctuations include geographic location, terrain, accessibility on the property, size of the stump, root complexity, type of tree, and method of removal.
Hazards and obstacles can also add to the price. If the stump is near buildings or other structures, underground utilities, or obstacles (such as fences, sidewalks, heavy rocks, or other landscape features), removal can cost more.
It’s important not to disregard the impact the professional has on tree stump removal cost. Prices vary regionally. If a contractor has to travel a long way, there could be a surcharge. Special tools or additional manpower will also raise the price.
Factors in Calculating Tree Stump Removal Cost
While the national average for tree stump removal is $327, the price can be significantly higher or lower in different parts of the country. Reasons for variation in pricing are diverse. For example, some professionals charge by the hour, while others charge by the job or by the diameter of the stump. Per-hour charges can have a minimum cost of $100. Other factors are weighed in the cost of stump removal. One is the type of tree. Hardwoods like oak, elm, hickory, birch, and aspen have stumps that are more difficult to remove, so additional costs may apply. Conversely, old stumps, particularly if they’ve begun to decompose, are easier to remove, so they might cost less.
Root size, number of roots, and complexity of roots may impact the cost of stump removal. Proximity to buildings and utilities will make the job tougher, and consequently, more expensive.
The larger the diameter of the stump, the more work it’s going to take to get out. As a result, professionals will charge more, whether they are charging by the hour or the stump size. Stumps should be measured at ground level to get an accurate size. Per-stump prices are often between $60 and $300, depending on the size and location. Per-diameter prices are typically $2 to $3 per inch. Some professionals offer price breaks for multiple stumps, which also impacts the variance in the averages.
If the tree stump is difficult to get to—or difficult to get the equipment to—expect to pay more for removal. Large trees wedged between buildings or close to power lines require finesse and extra time to remove safely. Any feature, such as a pond, other trees, buildings, or other structures, will make the removal process more difficult and more expensive.
Where you live affects pricing. Often, stump removal costs are higher in urban areas than in rural parts of the country—as are many other goods and services—because their expenses are higher for things like insurance and permitting. Beyond the going market rate, geographic location is an important consideration because most professionals charge extra for work outside of their service area, sometimes adding travel expenses. A quick Google search of “tree stump removal cost near me” will reveal the pricing for any specific area.
The longer a tree stump has been sitting, subjected to weather, insects, and time, the easier it will be to remove. Wood decays over time, crumbling as insects and the elements work away at it. If a stump requires less time and effort to get out, the cost to remove it will be less.
Hardwood trees—elm, birch, maple, cherry, and oak—are more difficult to remove than trees with softer wood, and they often take longer to get out than trees with soft wood. Any time the removal process is more difficult, more complicated, or longer, it’s going to cost more.
Root System Structure and Complexity
Roots are tricky things. Some sprawl, some get entwined with other trees’ roots, and some lie dangerously close to underground utility lines, creating a potential safety hazard. Extracting them from precarious positions next to electric, gas, or water lines adds to the cost of stump removal. Sprawling roots can grow under foundations, driveways, buildings, or even the street. Removing them requires special techniques and tools, all of which contribute to the cost.
Tree stumps positioned in extremely rocky or tightly packed clay soil are more difficult to extricate and can add up to 50 percent more in costs. Working in difficult soil conditions complicates the extraction and may require more prep time. Rocky soil can damage equipment, so professionals commonly adjust their prices accordingly.
There’s more than one way to remove a tree stump. Methods include burning, chemical rotting, and manually digging and cutting. Burning can cost $100 for a professional using potassium nitrate, for example. Chemical rotting costs the same as burning and requires the same chemical, but more time. Manual removal can cost $50 to $350, depending on the amount of labor required.
Number of Stumps
The more stumps that need to be removed, the more it’s going to cost. However, many professionals offer discounts for multiples. If the first stump cost somewhere between $100 to $150 to remove, each additional stump might add about half that to the total bill.
Preparation and Cleanup
If the professional has to cut and clear part of the trunk to get it ground level, there might be an additional charge. Cleaning up the debris and sawdust from stump removal and hauling it away comes at a cost. Some companies charge as much as $2 per diameter inch on top of the cost of removal. Other companies charge a flat fee. Nevertheless, expect to pay for the service.
Tree Stump Removal Cost: Types of Tree Stump Removal
There’s no single right way to remove a stump. Options include grinding, burning, chemical rotting, and chopping with an ax. Each method carries a different price tag, based on the labor and equipment needed and the amount of time involved.
Basic removal can be done with an ax and a lot of elbow grease or by using heavy equipment to pull the stump and roots out of the ground. Both are labor intensive. Chopping is one of the least expensive methods, but it requires a lot of physical labor.
Grinding tends to get the quickest results but is the most expensive method, largely due to the equipment required. In between are burning and chemical rotting, which typically take the longest—as much as a few months—to achieve results.
Stump grinding requires machinery to break up a tree stump into mulch. It does not remove the roots. Because grinding generally takes less time than removal, it is less expensive. It is also less destructive than removal. While it doesn’t leave a big hole in the ground or disturb the soil, it does not leave behind fertile soil, so replanting in the same spot is not advised. The average cost ranges from $100 to $400. You can choose to grind a stump anywhere from 1 inch to 12 inches below ground. This method is not recommended if the tree was diseased because the grinding process showers the immediate area in wood chips, splinters, and sawdust that can spread disease.
Burning uses the same method as chemical rotting, which is drilling holes into the stump and filling them with some type of nitrogen-rich granules. However, it adds the step of setting the stump on fire. Nitrogen accelerates the burning process. Care must be taken to keep the fire, including any floating embers, under control so it doesn’t spread. Covering the stump with a sheet of galvanized steel can help. Professionals typically charge a fee of $250 for the first stump, with about $40 for each additional one. Note that burning does not remove the root system below ground thoroughly.
The typical cost for removing stumps chemically is about $100 per stump, although some professionals offer a discount for multiple stumps. The process takes about 4 to 6 weeks and involves drilling holes into the stump, into which the professional pours chemicals—usually a product containing potassium nitrate, sulphuric acid, or nitric acid, depending on state regulations, but it’s also possible to use Epsom salts or other natural products—to initiate disintegration. After the stump has softened and begun to rot, it’s easier to remove. While this is an inexpensive option due to the small amount of labor required, it takes the most time to complete.
Manual removal requires a professional to use heavy machinery to pull the stump and roots. Because it’s labor intensive, this job typically starts at $250 for the first stump. This can be dangerous and is best completed with heavy equipment, so it’s wise to hire a professional to do the job instead of trying to remove the stump with an ax or chainsaw and shovel. A professional can do the job in minimal time and will untangle roots from underground pipes and utilities.
Tree Root Removal
Removing a tree’s roots is a much more complicated process than grinding or burning the stump, so prices will range higher: often $135 to $150 per hour. Older trees have bigger roots that sprawl, making removal more difficult. If the roots have reached under foundations, sidewalks, driveways, or other structures, removal will be even harder. Professionals often use excavation equipment or special attachments on commercial grinders that “eat away” at the roots.
Tree Stump Removal Cost: Do I Need to Remove a Tree Stump?
Although tree stumps rarely impose the same kind of potentially dangerous situation a damaged or diseased tree does, there may still be valid reasons to remove them, including safety reasons. Other incentives to remove a tree stump include aesthetics, the elimination of potential causes of insect infestation, damage to water pipes and other infrastructure, and the prevention of the growth of unwanted sprouts that turn into new trees.
Failure to remove tree stumps can have a detrimental effect on curb appeal. A yard looks unkempt and neglected with stumps left in place—especially if those stumps grow sprouts or harbor weeds and fungi.
More serious issues may convince a homeowner to remove a tree stump, including safety hazards and the threat to pipes and other trees.
Grass, shrubs, and weeds can hide a tree stump. That may seem like a solution to curb appeal, but it can create a hazard for children playing in the yard, anyone walking in the yard, and whoever mows the yard because they might not see the stump until they run into it, causing damage to equipment and injuries to people and animals. Additionally, a decaying stump can create soft spots and depressions in the yard—a tripping hazard.
Tree stumps can negatively impact a home’s curb appeal. Many people consider stumps an eyesore and even an indication that the homeowner doesn’t take care of the yard. A stump takes up valuable real estate where a garden, a play structure, another tree, or a nice expanse of grass would be more useful and more attractive.
Preventing Insect Infestation
As a stump decays, it attracts insects such as ants, termites, and boring beetles, not to mention fungi that can carry and spread disease. Removing a stump takes away these pests’ food source and encourages them to find another spot. If fungus grows, it can spread to healthy trees, compromising their health.
Protecting Surrounding Trees
Decaying tree stumps attract insects, which can then gravitate to healthy trees and cause damage. Roots from a tree stump can produce root sprouts that might grow into trees. As this occurs, those roots are stealing nutrients and water from the healthy trees nearby. Fast-growing trees are particularly prone to producing sprouts.
Preventing Home Systems Damage
Just because the trunk is gone doesn’t mean the roots are dead. They can continue to grow underground, potentially reaching buried pipes in search of water, where they can cause expensive and extensive damage by breaking or bursting water pipes.
Preventing Growth of New Tree Sprouts
Sometimes a stump can regenerate growth. So-called “zombie trees” can spoil a landscape design. Even worse, sprouts that grow through sucker roots near the surface can not only produce new trees where they may be unwanted, but they can also damage plumbing.
Tree Stump Removal Cost: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
Some jobs are better left to the professionals, and removing a tree stump is probably one of those.
You may think the key benefit of removing a tree stump yourself is that you’ll save money. However, it doesn’t necessarily turn out that way, especially if you have to rent or buy equipment to get the job done.
- You may actually save money by hiring a professional. Doing it yourself may require purchase or rental of equipment, such as a stump grinder, an ax, a chainsaw, a shovel, and personal safety equipment including safety glasses, hearing protection, and gloves. That can add up. For example, stump grinder rental costs can easily be between $100 and $300 a day. If you don’t own a trailer, you’ll have to rent one to haul the grinder, unless you pay extra for delivery—if that’s even available. It’s simply not cost-effective to rent a hydraulic tree stump grinder unless you have multiple stumps to remove.
- It may be safer to leave it to the pros. Stump grinders are heavy pieces of equipment that can easily injure someone who is unfamiliar with their operation. Professionals are experienced with the equipment, and in case anything goes wrong, they are insured against accidental damage to your property. They’re also experienced with handling the chemicals used in chemical rotting. Potassium nitrate isn’t poisonous, but it can cause minor skin and eye irritation, so you can save yourself any risk of potential harm by leaving it to the pros.
- You can save time by hiring out. Removing a tree stump is labor- and time-intensive. Your time and ability to do the job must be calculated into the equation. Professionals almost always complete the job faster than a homeowner can because they have the tools and experience to do the job efficiently. They’ll also save you the trouble of cleaning up the mess.
How to Save Money on Tree Stump Removal Cost
Tree and stump removal cost can break some budgets, but to prevent injury or property damage, sometimes it just has to be done. The cost for tree removal with stump grinding may seem exorbitant at $2 to $5 per diameter inch, but because it’s a dangerous, complex job that requires heavy equipment as well as manual labor, the cost is somewhat justified. Nevertheless, there are still some ways to save on the cost of tree removal and stump grinding.
- Schedule the work during the winter, which is the off-season for tree contractors. If they’re hungry for work during a slow season, they may be open to negotiation.
- Do the cleanup yourself, rather than pay a professional to do it. It’s labor intensive, but if you want to gather the small debris and dispose of it, you might be able to negotiate a reduced price for saving the professionals some time.
- Keep the wood for firewood. If the company doesn’t have to cut up the wood or mulch it and dispose of it, they might be amenable to reducing their price.
- Negotiate a discount for the removal of multiple stumps. Some companies will give you a deal on the price of removing more than one stump. It’s more economical for both parties: Since the pros are already on-site, they save travel time on additional work and might be willing to pass along that savings to the homeowner.
- Get multiple bids, including from small companies. Sometimes the smaller independent companies charge less than the bigger companies. Just make sure they’re insured.
Questions to Ask About Tree Stump Removal
Don’t hire the first tree professional you call without looking around first. It’s always a good idea to contact several professionals for quotes before the work is done. To get the best idea of each company’s tree and stump removal cost as well as all the services they provide, ask lots of detailed questions.
- Do you carry liability insurance, workers’ compensation, and all required licenses and permits?
- Do you offer group or bulk discounts for removal of multiple stumps?
- How do you plan to minimize damage to my yard?
- Do you charge by the hour or by the tree stump?
Because there are so many options for tree stump removal, the choices can overwhelm a homeowner. Just as important as getting multiple quotes from companies, doing a little research can help a homeowner know what to expect, both in the process and in the cost, and what to look for when hiring a professional. Getting rid of unsightly tree stumps in your yard can be done safely, efficiently, and cost-effectively.
Q. Is it better to grind or stump or remove it?
Neither is better. The choice depends on your goal: Do you want the roots gone? Grinding is faster and easier, but doesn’t remove the roots. Removal of the stump also removes the roots, but it can be more disruptive to the rest of the lawn or create a dip in the area where the roots once were.
Q. Can I ask for stump removal with tree removal to reduce costs?
Most professionals consider stump removal and tree removal as separate services and do not offer discounts for combining the two. Since they rarely bundle these services, expect to be charged for each separately.