Stump removal and mulching are two of our most popular tree care services in South Australia. Some people even try to go DIY with a handful of different approaches. But why is there a need to remove stumps and mulch in the first place? How can you go about projects like these should you take the DIY route? And, lastly, what are the benefits of investing on professional tree services instead of just doing it yourself?
What Is Stump Removal?
Simply put, stump removal is the removal of what’s left of a tree trunk after a tree’s been cut off. The project entails removing not only the visible part of the tree trunk, but also removing the underground roots that are attached to the stump. This is why it’s different from stump grinding, which is the process of grinding down a tree stump until there isn’t any trunk left.
Benefits of Stump Removal
- Tree stumps are eyesores. The aesthetics of a well-maintained garden can easily be destroyed by the existence of a tree stump, especially if you have more than a few.
- Tree stumps take space. Why allow your space to be filled with tree stumps when you can have a nice, clear yard? Reclaim that space and fill it with whatever you like!
- Tree stumps are tripping hazards. You may be used to the stumps and even avoid them subconsciously, but you can’t say the same for everyone who visits and wanders into your yard. You can easily stub your toe or trip on the stump, especially when they’re hidden among grass and weeds.
- Tree stumps may harbor pests and diseases. Many people part with trees because pests and diseases have overcome them. If you’ve cut down a tree because of infestations and diseases, remove their stump to prevent the spread of whatever that caused its demise.
DIY Stump Removal
- Digging is the most straightforward way of removing a stump. All you have to do is dig around a tree stump until the biggest roots are exposed, and then dig around these roots some more until you uncover much of the remaining roots. You can then cut up the roots into a size that will allow you to pull them out, and then you can remove the stump.
- Burning should only be done where it’s legal. In South Australia, this depends on the local council and subject to the Environment Protection (Air Quality) Policy 2016. Burning isn’t really a great idea if you’re planning to replant on the same spot though. Holes left by burning tree stumps have a tendency to sink every few months, so you’ll need to observe the area and refill it with organic matter every now and then.
- Chemical removal is an option for larger stumps. You can drill holes vertically into a stump and fill it with a chemical stump remover. This process could take years to finish as you’re literally trying to rot away the stump. Though inexpensive, it’s not a recommended process for those who have children or pets that can accidentally stumble upon the chemically-treated stump.
Professional Stump Removal
There are 2 main methods of stump removal Adelaide Hills Tree Services use.
- Stump grinding: This method uses a powerful machine called a stump grinder. It works by rotating a large cutter wheel with cutting teeth attached to it shaving the stump into a fine mulch. This method removes the stump to up to 600mm below ground level, however this may not be deep enough for really large stumps if you are planning to build on this area. Adelaide Hills Tree Services can grind stumps in very tight spaces using tight access stump grinding equipment such as an Alpine.
- Stump removal: This method involves physically digging the stump out either by hand or using a mechanical aid such as an excavator. This is the best method to ensure the whole stump and most large roots are removed, ensuring a clean space to work with. Particularly for large stumps this requires a considerable amount of room and can cause significant ground disturbance.
What Is Mulching?
Mulch is any organic material laid out on the soil’s surface for covering. When properly done, mulching is highly beneficial for plants and trees. There are many different mulching materials, and these different materials are beneficial to different plants. The main goal of mulching, however, is to preserve the moisture in the soil and at the same time improve its condition.
Benefits of Mulching
- Mulching inhibits weed growth. Since light doesn’t reach the soil, weeds can’t grow around plants. This leads to improved plant health.
- Mulching moderates soil temperatures. Mulch can help plants cool down during warm days, and warm up during cold days. This is particularly helpful during spring, as the warming up of the soil will allow you to plant weeks before the soil is usually ready for planting.
- Mulching improves soil conditions. Mulch prevents moisture loss, and it reduces erosion and compaction. It also protects the soil during winters when the cold usually freezes the soil and thaw afterwards. This cycle known as frost heaving causes the soil to expand and contract, pushing around plants and their roots.
There are many mulching materials to consider. They could be organic, inorganic, wet, or dry. The general rule is that they should be made of a light material to allow the soil to get much needed water and air. It should also be dense enough because it needs to block the sun to prevent weed growth and moisture loss. Some materials may be more expensive and more readily available than others. Some gardeners also consider how the mulch materials could blend into the overall aesthetics of the garden.
Organic Mulching Materials
- Shredded or chipped barks can be used for soil that is kept undisturbed, usually for use around trees and shrubs. They generally last longer as they don’t easily mix with soil.
- Shredded newspaper mulchhas become more popular, especially now that most newspaper publications have switched to organic inks. This mulch material has long been used as it retains moisture quite well.
- Shredded leaves may not fit a garden’s aesthetics, but it’s literally free and it does the job. They invite earthworms too. And if you begin placing leaf mulch during the fall, it’ll start to decompose come winter. You may also use grass clippings in the same way, though these need to be thoroughly dried, and you shouldn’t ever use chemically-treated ones.
- Straw and hay may not be a good option for areas prone to heavy winds and rodent infestations, but they’re really inexpensive.
Inorganic Mulching Materials
- Plastic mulch can be helpful but it depends on the situation really. For example, black plastic can warm up the soil fast, but the soil may get too hot if the mulch is in an area exposed to direct sunlight. Clear plastic mulch does the same, but doesn’t prevent weed growth.
- Crushed or chipped bricks, stone, marble, and gravel are perfect for undisturbed soil, so they’re great around trees and shrubs. They’re more difficult to move than other mulches, so they serve as permanent mulches. They’re a bit expensive though, and without landscape fabric, weed may still grow between the stones.