How to Operate a Stump Grinder


Stump grinders are complex machines that require firm attention to safety during operation. Whether you are a homeowner renting a machine or a newly hired landscaping professional who needs to learn how to use a stump grinder, proper safety techniques and a focus on detail are critical for success with these machines.

Step 1

Call ahead if you're renting a stump grinder from a local shop. The typical stump grinder will cost between $120 and $200 per day of use.

Step 2

The average stump grinder weighs half a ton. Ask the rental store employees whether they deliver heavy machinery. If you must pick up the stump grinder, bring a trailer with a hitch to the rental store.

Step 3

Ask the rental store employees to teach you how to operate the stump grinder. Request instruction on all safety features and common problems, and find out who to call if the machine malfunctions.

Step 4

Remove all rocks and debris around the stump.

Step 5

Cut the stump as close to the ground as possible, using a chainsaw.

Step 6

Position the stump grinder next to the stump, and raise the grinder above the stump using the hydraulic lever. Move the machine closer and lower the grinder so that it is right at the stump's edge.

Step 7

Everyone working on removal of the stump should put on safety goggles and headphones to protect eyes and ears while operating the stump grinder.

Step 8

Start the grinder wheel using the ignition on the control panel. The controls for the machine are on the back end, safely away from the grinder itself.

Step 9

Slowly lower the stump grinder two to three inches into the stump.

Step 10

Move the grinder wheel from side to side, with a goal of grinding down to four to five inches below ground level.

Step 11

Change position and move the machine forward to remove the next section of stump when all wood has been cleared within reach of the machine. Repeat steps 10 and 11 until the entire stump has been removed four to five inches below the dirt line.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never operate heavy machinery under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and never let children operate the stump grinder. Never leave the controls while the grinder is in motion.

Things You'll Need

  • Safety goggles
  • Ear plugs or headphones
  • Gloves


  • Do It Yourself Tree Stump Grinding

Who Can Help

  • Safe Tree Stump Removal
  • Removing Tree Stumps
Keywords: operate stump grinder, stump grinder, using a stump grinder

About this Author

Lea Barton has been writing since 1989, with over 2,000 articles in print and online for such publications as "Today's Parent," "Boston Globe Magazine", and Associated Content. She attended Harvard University's Extension School, completing courses in creative writing and German.