Skill and equipment distinguish a true first-rate professional from your average contractor. When it comes to stump grinding, no amount of skill can make up for a deficit in equipment, especially when it comes to large and challenging stumps. That’s why Stump Munchers uses the best equipment money can buy. Our latest purchase, the Rayco RG-100 costs over $67,000. While that may seem like a staggering figure for a piece of equipment that can go through a 36″ gate, we find that buying the best pays for itself over and over again with increased productivity. This allows us to remove monster stumps at very competitive rates. That’s our idea of a good time.
Such was the case after Hurricane Sandy when we regularly ground out huge uprooted root balls that other contractors said couldn’t be done. And such was the case earlier this spring in Swarthmore PA, where we ground out two huge stumps by a creek bed. Actually the bigger of the two was a monster oak stump that had fallen into a creek bed.
The tree fell during a storm, leaving a 10′ root ball on its side, out of the ground. When the tree trunk was removed the weight of the dirt and roots caused the stump to fall backwards and stand upright. But instead of falling back into the hole from which it came, this stump fell all the way back into the creek bed, leaving only a small channel for the water to flow under the stump.
This created a very challenging situation: not only was this a huge oak stump, it’s position in the creek meant that reaching it put the equipment at risk of falling over the steep bank, which would have been disastrous. And to make matters even more difficult, the 5+ tons of grindings (wood shavings) produced would need to be kept out of the creek for environmental concerns. We love to do jobs like this where other contractors walk away saying it’s too difficult.
In a very methodical way, we cut the stump in layers. Every time the grindings got so deep that they started falling into the creek, we stopped and parked the grinder. Then using a power broom to pull the chips back out of the way, we spread them evenly to mulch the adjacent area. Once the chips were out of the way, we’d go back in with the grinder and take another layer off the top of the stump. Switching back and forth from the stump grinder to the power broom, we turned the two eyesore stumps in a low lying muddy area into a nicely mulched area by the creek on a job that most stump grinding contractors wouldn’t have even attempted.
While we love a challenge, what made this job extra special was the participation of the homeowners, Martin and Terri Micklin. They watched the whole time, and as soon as I stopped for a minute to assess the progress in the creek bed, they pulled out their rakes and started working to spread the mulch. They were working hard too, which made it feel like a team effort. I loved their enthusiasm and get it done attitude. Half way through the job Terri said to me “That’s the coolest machine I’ve ever seen, I’ve never seen anything like it, we are enjoying watching”. Afterwards I let them use the power broom to put the finishing touches on the mulch bed as I packed up the stump grinder.
Working with and for the Micklins was a pleasure. They were great. Martin got me another stump job for his next door neighbor, and they both had a big smile as they wrote the check. Stump grinding isn’t usually much of a spectator sport, but their enthusiasm and appreciation for the skill and equipment needed to do this difficult job made my day.