Stump Removal

Here’s how to clean up your property after Mother Nature shouts “Timber!”


Photo by Adobe Stock/Stylefoto24

Even in the Upper Midwest — not known for severe summer storms — we occasionally suffer major damage from tornadoes and straight-line winds. Two years ago, heavy rains combined with winds in excess of 80 mph caused the loss of four large trees on our property. Thankfully, the falling trees missed our house and outbuildings, but they left us a huge mess.

When our 70-foot-tall pine tree blew over, the entire root ball was pulled out of the ground. I knew a lot of work was in my future as I surveyed the damage the next morning. But I wasn’t prepared to remove a root ball from a tree more than 5 feet in diameter.

My options to remove the root ball were somewhat limited: I could hire someone with a backhoe to dig it out, or I could do the work myself. Because the storm was so widespread and destructive, most professional services were booked for weeks, so I decided to tackle the job. I learned a few things along the way that may help you in a similar situation.

Root balls can weigh 1,000 pounds or more, including sod. Photo by Flickr/SLGCKGC

Getting at the Root of the Problem

The massive root ball of our felled tree was still attached to its deep taproots, and packed with dirt. I estimate it weighed close to 1,000 pounds with all the sod and soil. Due to the load-lifting limits of my compact utility tractor, I knew I’d have to drastically reduce the root ball’s size.

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