Subhead: Ask these questions and save money, possibly hundreds of dollars, on your next stump removal job.
I did the research, I asked arborists the questions they hate to hear, I saw the hard numbers on websites. What I found was that prices for removing a tree stump can be double, even three times higher from one tree service to the next.
I saw one tree service list a price of $10 per inch while another was just $3, over three times less!
However, I’ve found that if you ask these questions, you will have all the tools to:
· Find a qualified tree service
· With top notch stump grinding equipment
· For a fair price
How? Well it doesn’t involve “grinding” (no pun intended!) the estimator. Nor will you have to ask all the questions in this article.
But by asking just a few, you will establish that you know a thing or two, that the tree estimator ain’t dealing with a novice. Even if you really are.
In fact, he’ll be wondering if you’ve talked with another arborist. Or two or three. And he’ll start sharpening his pencil and cutting his price before you even ask.
So, get ready to save. Here are the questions you should ask.
Will you grind out the stump to city code?
This question establishes your knowledge and will make the estimator wonder if you’ve already talked to another arborist. Six inches is the standard code and what we follow in the City of Denver. We’ve gone deeper, up to 18 inches below grade.
What types of discounts are available?
Discounts for veterans, seniors, neighbors, trades for services - in my experience all of these are on the table with a stump removal contractor. Tree service owners are flexible with payment options so ask.
Do you have a winter discount?
This warrants its own entry because it is tantalizing to a tree stump company that is slow in the winter. I’ve heard of at cost or below cost bids just to keep cash flowing. Stump removal can be done in winter as long as there is no snow.
Do you have a guarantee and what does that entail?
If you aren’t satisfied you should know if it is a moneyback policy or if they will redo the job. Clarify who is responsible for any damage to wires, sprinklers underneath the surface. Fine print may absolve the company of any responsibility so double check.
How long will the tree stump removal take? And how long a turn around to schedule?
Even the largest stumps take less than a day so you are looking at a few hours on average. Popular stump removal services can schedule out up to 2 weeks. There is always a small delay to allow utility company’s to flag their lines and for you to mark any sprinkler lines.
How much does stump grinding cost? Does that include the trip charge?
Most services will charge between $3 and $10 per diameter inch (I told you there is a big range!) of the stump measured at its widest point. Services may offer a flat rate per stump as well. Some tree service contractors have a lower stump grinding rate but have an additional trip charge.
Will your service take away the ground stump and debris?
There is a difference in what’s expected in cleanup after the job. It can range from minimal to full clean-up.
Does the tree service have shields or barriers to protect glass and structures?
Nothing is more costly then an insurance claim! The wheels of the stump grinder kick up rocks that can easily break window glass. Make sure the service protects siding, doors and shutter from nicks and cracking.
Will you grind the roots?
A tree with gnarled surface roots along the grass may be the reason you want the tree gone. Cottonwood and fruit trees are a few of many water hungry species prone to surface roots. Grinding the roots is possible, for an extra charge. It can take quite an effort (and expense) to grind all the roots.
Grinding roots on a live tree? This is typically requested when the surface roots are wrecking a lawn. Grinding a few roots is fine, but anything more extensive will involve removing the tree. Never remove more than a 1/3 of the roots or noticeable die back could result.
Will a stump need to be treated so the tree doesn’t grow back?
Most species will be fine. A weed tree that was likely a volunteer to start, (Chinese elm, sumac) can be treated with RoundUp. Careful, this can kill desirable trees nearby in your yard or your neighbors.
How close to concrete or patios can you grind?
Tree stumps are frequently close to walkways and patios, making it hard to fully grind out. New stump grinders have remote control capability which allows the contractor to stage a difficult grind in a way that can be done quickly and efficiently. Call around if that is your situation.
Do you have insurance and proper licenses?
When you work with a competent professional you pay a bit extra because they have insurance, proper certifications and business licenses to operate in your town. If in doubt, ask to see documentation. As an aside, there may be HOA restrictions in your community, also.
Should I be there when the stump removal happens?
Yes, especially if you don’t know the crew. If you’re around and something goes wrong, it’s going to be easier for you to sort it out.
Can I plant a new tree where the stump was just removed?
As the wood, water, and roots of the old stump decompose it takes away nutrients from the soil. The newly planted tree in that spot may not have enough nutrients to make it. If you can site the tree a couple feet over, that can help tremendously. A chemical stump removal product can help clear out organic material.
There you have it. Throw in a few of these questions, establish you know something about stump removal and you will get a better price then you thought possible.
Check out these websites to find good, cheap stump removal contractors?
- Craigslist – These providers will be lower cost but may not have all the insurance and experience (or any at all!)
- ISA or TCIA- These are tree service/arborist organizations. Local chapters have lists of members and their designations.
- ServiceMagic or a similar quote comparison service.
- Google - Type in “stump removal your town” as a starting point.