Do Tree Roots Die After Stump Grinding

After removing a tree from your land, you’ll end up with the stump that once held the tree in place. Some people prefer to remove the stump, while others hire professionals to grind it away using a stump grinder. The question is, do tree roots die after stump grinding? 

After grinding the stump, the tree roots will still be alive, spreading under the ground in a network that once provided the tree with water and nutrients. Eventually, the roots will die, but this process can take more than a decade. 

tree stump

There are many reasons why people choose to remove stumps or leave them in place. To learn more about this topic, keep on reading. 

Do Tree Roots Die After Stump Grinding

There are several reasons why someone might consider cutting down a tree. Having a dead tree is a hazard in your land because it can fall on a car or on your house and hurt someone. Moreover, if the tree is infected with rot, it might spread to other nearby trees

Some trees aren’t dead, but you want to use the wood for fire or a DIY project. Moreover, some people cut down trees because they’re too old and might accidentally damage their property. 

Although dead trees attract certain animals and birds like woodpeckers, if you choose to remove your tree, you’ll end up with the stump, which once held the tree’s trunk in place. 

A stump can be used for aesthetic purposes as part of your landscape design, or you can customize it to create a homemade slide, fairyland, a garden table, or chair. 

Nevertheless, some owners are confused about the root system. Can the tree grow back if you leave the stump in place?

When you cut the tree, the root system isn’t touched. However, eventually, the roots will start to wither and eventually die in a lengthy process that can take a few years. 

This is because the roots spread deep under the ground in a network that provided the tree with nutrients and water. It takes time until these roots stop doing their job and eventually die. 

Is It Better to Keep or Remove a Tree Stump

When you cut a tree, the old stump won’t cause a problem at first. There are actually several ways you can make use of an old stump. 

However, after some time, the tree stump can become a nuisance in several ways. 

  • Tree stumps can prevent you from mowing your lawn properly. You can accidentally break your mower if you roll it over the stump. 
  • They get in the way when you’re maintaining your landscape design or might not be compatible with your desired layout. A stump might even affect the value of your property. 
  • A tree stump will occupy valuable space that you might later use if you’re ready to plant a new tree. 
  • Although the roots eventually die, they will stay alive for a while after you cut the tree, and this means that the roots will continue to compete with the roots of nearby plants and trees for food. 
  • The deadwood is attractive to termites and carpenter ants. These pests can spread to other trees and to the foundations of your house. 

Is it Better to Remove or Grind a Stump

Both stump grinding and removal have some pros and cons. Stump grinding is done by an arborist who uses a machine to shred or grind the remaining stump into small wood chips that you can later use for other purposes. 

Most people use these chips for mulch. You can also use them as fuel for your fireplace. 

However, this process leaves the roots behind, and they take time until they completely decay and die. 

Stump removal is a more intrusive process that involves cutting the remaining stump, then digging the ground to remove the widespread roots. 

This job is done by a professional arborist and is more costly, requires more effort, and takes more time. Nevertheless, it’s the only way to get rid of all the roots. 

You can make the grinding process more efficient, whether you hire a professional to do the job or rent a stump grinding machine from a rental center or a home improvement store. 

You should dig about 12 inches about the base of the stump and start grinding as much as you can, digging deeper to reach the roots. 

Use a pruning saw or shears to cut the roots around the base of the stump, and remove as much as you can of the root system and cover the stump with soil. 

After that, apply a nitrogen-based fertilizer as it will help speed up the decomposition process. 

Some stump grinders can go as deep as 18 inches into the ground. An arborist will be able to tell how deep the trunk is because some trees have shallow trunks while others have deep ones. 

It’s recommended not to plant a new tree in the exact location where the old tree once stood, even after the roots have decomposed. 

The decomposition process will change the acidity of the soil, and the newly planted tree will face a hard time growing naturally. 


There are many reasons why someone should consider cutting a tree down, but after you cut a tree, you’ll end up with a stump. 

So unless you choose to do something with the stump, you can either have it ground or removed. 

A new tree won’t regrow from the roots after grinding a stump, but the roots can take years to decompose. 

You can hire a professional arborist to dig around the trunk and remove as many as they can of the root system to help speed up the decomposition process. 

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