Now that you've cleared the trees to make room for your new project, how do you clear the stumps so you can get on with your work? Chemicals take a long time to work, burning isn't allowed in every neighborhood, and hand digging is back-breaking work. The quickest, easiest way to clear stumps from your property is to rent a stump grinder. These gas-powered machines grind stumps down to sawdust in a matter of minutes so you can quickly move on to the next stage of your project.
Rent a stump grinder from your local garden center, home improvement store or equipment rental house. The rental will cost between $100 and $200 per day (prices as of December 2009). This may sound pricey, but most landscapers charge the same amount per small stump that they remove for you. Before you leave the store with your rental, be sure that the dealer gives you explicit instructions on how to use the machine and the user's manual.
Rent or buy the appropriate safety equipment. When operating the stump grinder, you will need to have safety goggles and hearing protection on at all times.
Use a shovel to remove any rocks that may be near the base of the stump. These rocks can damage the teeth of the cutting wheel and you won't get your deposit back.
Move the stump grinder into place. Use its hydraulic lever to raise it a few inches above the top of the stump. Then drive the machine forward until the grinding wheel is directly over the front edge of the stump.
Turn the grinding wheel on and then lower the machine until it is cutting roughly 3 inches into the stump. Then move the grinder from side to side to dig out the wood, moving it deeper until you've ground the stump away at least 4 inches below the surface. Then advance the grinder a few inches and repeat the process.
Rake up the sawdust and wood chips and put them in the compost pile.
Fill the hole with topsoil.