Friday, September 4, 2015

Stumped

Long time readers know that since I bought this property three years ago, I've cut down my fair share of trees. In fact, the best count I have is somewhere around 30 trees, all of them with the exception of one were died. There were several factors for this. This property was cleared about ten years ago using a bulldozer which pushed out all the understory trees leaving only the mature trees behind. The weight of the bulldozer and the blade definitely hurt the root structure of the remaining trees. The fact that they left behind only the mature trees was kind of short sighted as mature trees by definition are past their peak years and are closer to death anyway. Combine all this with five very wet years followed by two very dry years and a case of oak wilt disease in the area and it was a recipe for lots of dead trees.

The trees I cut down were all in what I call the lawn proper. About an acre and a half of our land is lawn. The remaining half acres is a ditch at the bottom of the hill full of trees and understory that provided a natural screen from the road that runs down the valley. There are many many more dead trees down in there but as long as they don't fall on the lawn, I let nature take its course. Of the 30 dead trees I cut down, about 24 of them were in the lawn proper and the other six were along the edge but not in the area we mow.

All this is a preface to an unexpected knock on the door a recent Saturday evening. When I answered the door it turned out to be an older gentleman who said that he had just done some stump grinding for the university on the opposite hill and before he took his equipment back home, he was driving the area to see if anyone else needed to get their stumps ground. We obviously looked like we might be good customers. I told him I would consider it if the price was right and with that, he walked through the lawn and counted out the 24 stumps to be removed. He quoted me $450. That sounded cheap to me and so I took him up on the deal.

He showed up mid week with his stump grinder, a large contraption pulled behind his truck and set to work. It took them about six hours to grind all those stumps down to six inches below the soil line and when he was done, my lawn looked like it had been invaded by a giant mole. There were piles of sawdust and dirt next to holes everywhere. It took me three evenings of shoveling and raking to fill in all the holes and haul the excess materials off to the ditch where I dumped it in a couple piles in case I need some fill in the future. It certainly looks a lot different now. My only complaint about this is that I still have another half dozen trees that are in various stages of dying and I expect I'll have more stumps by this time a couple years from now. Everyone will expect me to get rid of those stumps too.

7 comments:

sage said...

That does sound like a good deal--that's a lot of trees to have cut.

Ed said...

Sage - When we first moved into our house, there was a giant half dead oak next to our house and leaning towards it. I called a professional to remove it and to grind down the stump and five others that were in the lawn at the time. I think I paid more to get the six stumps ground back then, not to mention the cost of cutting down the tree.

Vince said...

It was a big thing when I worked in London and had dead trees ground out to then pour Jayes Fluid by the gallon down onto the remaining wood. The stuff back then had a concoction of "heavy oil" tar acids and assorted real nasties that turned the area into a tiny wasteland.

Leigh said...

We have our share of mature trees too, so I know exactly what you're talking about. Better to cut them than have them fall on their own, like the old pines in our woods. What a mess that has turned into, and there's no good way to get back there to clean it up. I'm sure your lawn will look more proper in no time!

Ed said...

Vince - Back when I was working on the farm, we used to spend a month or two every winter walking fence lines and clearing brush. After the trees were cut, we used Tordon RTU on them which after looking up on the internet has the active ingredients of picloram and 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid. Not sure what either of those two really are but they were nasty enough we always wore heavy rubber gloves and it worked well.

Leigh - The lawn really does look a lot better already. I really didn't mind the stumps and have lived with them for the last three years but the price was really cheap so I thought why not. We bought a real dump of a house in a really nice neighborhood and all our neighbors have immaculate lawns so that played a part too. Now that we have the outside of the house looking good and our lawn isn't full of stumps, perhaps they won't burn our house down at the first opportunity.

edifice rex said...

That was an exceptionally good price. I had 3 ground here and it cost me $150. @ were pretty big....but still.

Ed said...

Edifice Rex - Perhaps I had a quantity discount!