Stump Grinder buy Guide

Buyer’s Guide




Despite what you might otherwise think, the power of a stump grinder is important but likely not the most important quality to consider. Granted, you definitely do not want to get a badly underpowered stump grinder but is more due to inconvenience than it is performance. An underpowered stump grinder will usually require longer to do the same job and might even require different cutting techniques. That said, it is important to understand that stump grinders, due to the rigor of their work, use gasoline-powered engines which makes this consideration a bit trickier. While the amount of power those engines produce is necessary to cut the stump, it will also impact the longevity of the stump grinder.


Considering the majority of a stump grinder’s work will ultimately be accomplished by the engine, this is arguably more important than the power it can generate. This is especially true considering that there is not a reputable stump grinder on the market that is under a grand in price. This means that any and every stump grinder is an investment, and the most important component of that investment is the engine. In this instance, you should look for an engine manufactured by a company known for small block engines. Basically, the engine should be manufactured by outdoor equipment or even motorcycle engine manufacturer like Honda.

Cutting Range

Out of the qualities that directly affect the effectiveness of a stump grinder, the cutting range is likely the most important. That said, grinding down a stump actually requires consideration of cutting the stump both above and below ground. While it may seem more of aesthetic consideration, it is also important to remember that numerous species of tree with an intact root structure will simply start to regrow.

Above Grade

The cutting range of a stump grinder is determined by two grade, the first of which is the above grade. The above grade refers to the maximum height that a stump grinder can cut into safely, though this is actually the less relevant cutting grade. This has more to do with the fact that you can ensure that the stump itself falls within the above grade with other tools. Basically, if the stump is a bit above the cutting grade of a stump grinder, you can always take a chainsaw and lower the stump enough to be ground down. You cannot do the same thing with a stump grinder’s other cutting grade though. Regardless, it is still important to get a stump grinder with an above grade that is around 12” or more to prevent you from having to make a riskier cut with the chainsaw.



Below Grade

As you may have figured out based on the prior discussions, the below grade of a stump grinder refers to how low below ground-level the stump grinder can cut. This is easily the most important consideration when choosing a stump grinder, so long as everything else at least meets the general industry standards. This is because there are not really any other tools that can make cutting a stump below ground any easier like there are for cutting the stump above ground. Another reason that the below grade is so important is that many trees will regrow if you do not destroy the root structure below ground. Unless you want to have to spend significant time and energy digging out the area around the stump, you will need a grinder that can go down and clear it out. That said, the below grade is almost without exception shorter than the above grade, so expect a range of about 9”, though anything closer to a foot is great.


This may seem a bit of an odd quality to consider for a product that is expected to come with a gas-powered engine, but it makes perfect sense when you think about it for a minute. It all comes down to a single question: where are you going to have to use the stump grinder? While there may exist a few exceptions with extenuating circumstances, the overwhelming majority of stumps to be ground will be found outside. On top of that, a tree’s root structure almost necessarily dictates that the stumps to grind in a given area are liable to be multiple feet away from one another. As such, if you need to clear out a larger area as opposed to occasional use, chances are that you will need to transport your stump grinder. If your stump grinder weighs more than 200 pounds, you begin to get to a point where it will be more difficult to load and unload.



Stump grinders are a fairly straightforward product without too many bells and whistles, but there are a couple of features a grinder can add that are legitimately valuable. For instance, the ability to walk the stump grinder with the assistance of the engine is a great benefit. This feature allows you to more easily transport the stump grinder from one location to another as well as load and unload it. Another extra feature that adds legitimate value is the inclusion of a side discharge function. This feature ensures that the ground up bits of the stump is directed away from the grinder to prevent any jamming from occurring.

Other features that can provide some functional benefit include a clutch that can handle the sharp jolt of the blade first contacting the stump as well as a brake that can prevent the grinder from breaking itself or even injuring its user. Also, many of the lighter stump grinders on the market include handles that make it significantly easier to pick up for loading/unloading and general transport purposes. Some stump grinders even include features that make it easier to raise or lower the stump grinder’s grade when cutting into the wood.



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