Hiring a stump grinder is one of the few ways to quickly and effectively get rid of stumps on your property. They are also one of the more expensive methods of stump removal. Before you hire a stump grinder, drive around your neighborhood or post fliers on the community bulletin board to inquire if anyone else has any stumps that they need removed. You and your neighbors may be able to share the cost of the stump grinder.
Inquire about the capacity of the stump grinder that you will be renting. If you have a choice between stump grinders (you may not, depending on the availability in your area), ask about its cutting capacity. Your primary concerns are how many inches it can cut above the surface of the soil (the height of your stump), and how many inches it can cut below the surface of the soil. A 9-inch cutting depth will remove most of the root systems of small trees and bushes. For larger trees, the deeper the cutting depth the better, especially if you intend to replant a tree in the area. Inform the rental agent about the height and species of your tree for recommendations on appropriate cutting depths.
Arrange transportation. Stump grinders are large, heavy machines. Call the rental agent and ask about the weight of the machine and the appropriate mode of transportation. It may be too heavy for your vehicle and it may need to be towed.
Ask for a walk-through and demonstration of the operation of the stump grinder. The rental agent must show you how to turn the machine on and off, how to engage the blade of the stump grinder, how to raise it up and down, how to propel the machine forward, how to propel it backward, how to engage any safety features, how to turn it off and how to clean it after use. All relevant controls should not just be pointed out, but engaged to make sure that they are functioning properly.
Walk around the machine. Look for scratches, dents and warped metal. Inform the rental agent of any damage that you notice on the machine. If you do not make it clear that this damage existed before you hired the machine, you may be held responsible for it.
Examine the cutting wheel closely. If the blade is significantly damaged or considerably worn-down, discuss it with the rental agent. Ask if and how it will affect the machine's performance. Simply point out cosmetic damage to absolve you of liability. Warps, nicks, dings and dull teeth may affect the machine's performance. Ask about how they may affect the machine's performance and inquire about the possibility of a refund if the machine under-performs. You may even consider asking if the blade can be replaced. If the blade is damaged enough to cause you concern and it is not replaced or a refund agreement is not reached, move on to another machine.