What Happens to Roots after Stump Grinding?

At times, removing a tree can be necessary due to age, storm damage, or disease. And once a tree has been cut down, the stump is removed by grinding it down. But the process of stump grinding does not remove the roots. What happens to roots after stump grinding? In this post, we will discuss what to do with the roots.

Understanding the Root System

Once a stump has been ground, sprouts can still grow from the roots. In some cases, the sprouts can grow into full trees. This is because the roots still remain alive after stump grinding. The regrowth can happen if the soil has enough nutrients. The nutrients determine the health of the sprouts.

A Tree’s root system is made up of a variety of roots. There are small feeder roots and large perennial roots. The larger roots grow horizontally. On the other hand, feeder roots, which comprise most of the surface area of the root system, are just 1/16 inch in diameter.

The feeder roots grow upward and outward from the large roots. These are the roots that absorb nutrients and help the tree grow. However, the lifespan of these roots is pretty short. It is the large roots that stay firmly in place and keep the tree stable.

This Is What Happens to Aggressive and Non-Aggressive Roots

In most cases, the roots are not an issue. However, some species are aggressive and vigorous growers. Let’s see what happens to them:

Non-aggressive roots

What happens to roots after stump grinding? Well, it depends on the species of the tree. After stump grinding, most trees are unlikely to regrow. Large roots will decompose over time. And as it happens, the ground may slightly sink. Fill in the depressions with compost or topsoil. Rake the place smoothly. Then sprinkle some water on the area and scatter some grass seed.  

Aggressive root sprouts

There are some aggressive tree species with seemingly immortal roots! Even after the stump has been ground up, sprouts spring from the roots, aggressively.

The roots retain nutrients from the soil. As we have already stated, it doesn’t happen with all tree species. Cottonwoods, Russian olive, and Siberian elm are some species that fall into the category of trees that regrow from roots after stump grinding. Due to their aggressive nature, some of these species are considered invasive.

Cultural Controls

What happens to roots after stump grinding? Is there a natural way to control the growth of sprouts from roots that remain after stump grinding? Yes, there is a straightforward and natural way. As soon as you notice sprouts, cut them off. Cut the sprouts at a point where they meet the stump or roots.

Do not put the cut sprouts in the compost pile. The sprouts may come out even if you dig up the roots. If you persistently keep removing sprouts, the roots will become weak and stop growing sprouts.

Chemical Controls

If you have long-term plans for cutting down trees, you can apply chemicals on the roots a year before and kill them. Apply an herbicide to weaken and gradually kill the roots. However, the fact is, when it comes to tree removal, most people do not plan in advance.

After stump grinding, it is not pleasant to see sprouts growing back from roots. And if you use a chemical to weaken the roots, the nearby trees will be affected. Yes, this is bad news for people who are seriously thinking about using a herbicide to weaken the roots.

You can use an herbicide after you have cut down a tree and ground up the stump. Choose an herbicide that contains triclopyr or glyphosate. Apply it on the trunk, preferably just after the tree has been cut down.

For this, choose a dry and hot day. When working with herbicides, make sure you wear gloves, long sleeves, long pants, safety glasses, and a mask. Do not let children and pets come close to the herbicide.

Do not reuse the paintbrush you use to apply the herbicide. Wash it with water and soap, and throw it into the trash.

If the trunk is chipped before sprouts appear, apply a triclopyr or glyphosate product on the sprouts. Do not overspray, because the product can kill surrounding vegetation and plants.

The sprouts should not be cut immediately. Allow the leaves to dry before you do so. To kill the root system, you may need to apply the product multiple times.

Spreading Roots

After stump grinding, for most tree species, the roots simply decompose. Yes, this is what happens to roots after stump grinding. However, there are ways to use the roots. You can remove the spreading roots of larger trees and use the wood chips to make the soil fertile.

Tree service companies deal with it in a pretty straightforward way. They expose the roots by digging out the area, and then remove the dirt. After that, they use a stump grinder to chip away the roots.

This process is a bit costly because workers have to remove a large patch of grass. The entire process is laborious and time-consuming. But this process is very effective for stopping the spread of unwanted sprouts from the roots that remain underneath after stump grinding.

What should you do with the wood chips resulting from the process of chipping out leftover roots? Well, you can simply mix the wood chips with the surrounding soil and then sprinkle some grass seed on the soil.

You will have lots of wood chips after grinding down spreading roots. Your tree service company can help you make the best use of wood chips.

Final Thoughts: What Happens to Roots after Stump Grinding

Stump grinding does not remove the roots. You have to address them separately. Depending on the type of roots, you can either chip them out or apply an herbicide. If the tree is a non-aggressive species, do not worry too much about removing the roots. They will not take a long time to decompose.

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