Don’t get stumped by street-side grinding

stump grinding

Jake Woudstra, president of Pro Lawn Landscaping in Orono, Ontario, has changed his approach to grinding street-side stumps, thanks to Fecon’s Stumpex, a high-torque, low rpm auger bit skid steer stump grinder.

Pro Lawn had been using a traditional skid steer grinder with a high-speed wheel and carbide tools.  Gary Lowe of Winona Wood, Inc., a land clearing contractor in the area, saw Pro Lawn’s operation and suggested they try the Stumpex.  Lowe uses Stumpex stump grinders in his land clearing operations and knew the Stumpex would be perfect for grinding near concrete structures and in high traffic areas.

Pro Lawn’s stump grinding work is primarily between the sidewalk and curb of boulevard streets. Woudstra explained standard practice is to remove ground material from the stump area to 20 cm below grade and then fill with good topsoil.  Chips from the Stumpex are larger and easy to handle with tools like a pitchfork.  The Stumpex chips also stay in place, compared to wheel-type stump grinders that create smaller chips in large and spread out piles.

“We spent much more time raking lawns and sweeping sidewalks and streets after using a wheel-type grinder.  On windy days, the smaller chips can also blow onto near-by parked cars,” Woudstra said. “While there is no damage to the car, it can make the owner suspicious of damage and lead to complaints.”

Dave Maddock, product manager for Fecon’s Stumpex, explained the attachment has a patented auger bit with stepped blades and a threaded cone that draws the bit into stumps at approximately seven to 16 rpm.

Skid steer hydraulics of 75 to 159 litres per minute power the Stumpex gear box with as much as 30,000 foot pounds of torque to shave stumps into chips without causing high-speed debris.  The rugged blades and vertical orientation of the Stumpex are ideal for operating near sidewalks, streets and building structures where safety is the primary concern.

Woudstra explained he no longer needs a safety truck to escort the operation, freeing up the cost of the truck and the second employee for other work.

During a typical day, Pro Lawn does an average of 30 to 35 stumps, twice what they were accomplishing with a wheel-type stump grinder mounted on the same skid steer. Stumps under 75 cm can be processed in a single plunge, but they’ve also processed stumps as large as 1.2 metres across, if the operator is well-trained. Their single best day is 50 stumps.

Woudstra went on to explain the wheel-type grinder creates such a pile of chips that after grinding one-third or one-half of a 90-cm stump they can no longer see the stump. The Stumpex grinds the material into smaller piles of larger mulch bits, and clean-up time is cut in half with a fraction of the wood chips.

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“We end up moving on to the next stump and coming back after the clean up crew addresses the chip pile,” Woudstra said. “That can cycle two and sometimes three times before the stump is done with the wheel type grinder.  That’s a lot of moving equipment and crew members back and forth which is no longer necessary with the Stumpex.”

Woudstra explained how using previous stump grinders next to sidewalks and street curbs made it difficult for the operator to not get too close to the concrete.  Hitting concrete resulted in broken teeth and downtime beyond the normal tool wear from hitting rocks. With the Stumpex operators can cut close to the curb or sidewalk and don’t have any carbide teeth to break or wear.

Pro Lawn Landscaping is primarily in landscape construction with a focus on brick and stone work.  Their original thinking on street side stump grinding was that it could be supplemental work for their Bobcat S650 skid steer.  Today it’s become a valuable opportunity, leading to some unexpected new business.

Pro Lawn’s stump grinding services have become more rewarding than first anticipated.  Increased productivity and confidence on the jobsite has allowed the Pro Lawn team to pursue more stump grinding contracts and paid for itself quickly.