If you have a large tree removed, but don’t eliminate the stump--the part of the tree where the roots grew down--it can remain for years or even decades. That’s why most people who remove a tree decide to have the stump removed or grounded down. If you want to replace the tree you’ve removed or grow something else in the space, you’ll need to do one or the other. So what’s the difference? In this post, you'll learn the different techniques professional tree services use on tree stumps.

Stump Removal

Stump removal is a challenging task, which means many a tree service in Lilburn will add a fee for the service. Stump removal involves not just eliminating the stump at ground level, but also removing the root ball beneath the earth.

Root balls grow along with the tree, expanding in all directions. This means once it’s removed, a very large hole remains where the tree once stood--especially if the tree was a big one. In some cases, the root ball can be up to ten times the size of the actual tree.

In addition to paying for the cost of removing the root ball, a homeowner who chooses to have a stump removed may be charged additionally to refill the hole with dirt and cover it with grass or sod.

Stump Grinding

Tree grinding is a process tree cutting service professionals in Lilburn typically prefer to use. Rather than unearthing and removing the root ball, the pros use a commercial grinder to dice the upper parts of the stump and root ball into mulch-size or smaller pieces. These pieces can be used as mulch right in place to assist in growing new grass or a garden where the tree once stood.

Though the root ball remains, it should decay beneath the ground over time, if the stump grinding process was successful. Because the stump grinding process is less labor intensive, and requires less cleanup, it is typically less expensive than full stump removal.

Other Methods

There are other ways to remove a stump. Specifically, there are chemicals that some homeowners attempt to use to eliminate an unsightly stump. Most professionals, however, prefer to grind the stump down as it’s quick and allows the homeowner to make almost immediate use of the space where the tree once stood.

Alternative methods typically require chemical treatments and fires, which can be dangerous. Most solutions also take days or even weeks before the stump is eliminated because it takes a while for the chemicals to soften the wood so the stump can be removed. In the case of large tree stumps with deep root systems, this doesn’t always work.


Though tree removal can be expensive, stump grinding typically costs, on average, between $150 and $415. Things like the size, age, and type of tree affect the cost. It’s more expensive and time-consuming to remove a large tree, and hardwood trees like aspen, birch, hickory, and oak are tougher to remove than softer wood trees.

Few homeowners choose full stump removal due to the cost and challenge the process requires. However, stump grinding is an affordable and fast way to remove an unsightly stump so you can have full access to every part of your lawn again.