Stump Grinding & Stump Removal
What’s Beneath The Surface?
The Greater Omaha Area’s Urban forest is home to a wide variety of tree species. Looking around Omaha, you’ll notice all different shapes and sizes of trees but one thing can be said about all of them; there is much more below the surface than most people realize.
The word stump refers to the remaining part of what would have previously been considered the trunk of the tree. Visually, it ends at the level of the ground or mulched area around it but functionally it extends much deeper.
Root and stump tissue still posses 100% of the tree’s original DNA and, depending on the species, may often survive even after a complete removal of the above-ground portion of the tree. This DNA contains the entire genetic blueprint of the tree as well as the “instructions” on how to grow back. You can think about it like a seed that already has a huge head-start.
Granted, a tree that has been cut all the way down to the ground no longer has leaves to convert the sun’s energy into food, but neither does a seed! What it does have, however, is a thoroughly developed structure to efficiently collect and distribute the water, nutrients and minerals necessary to sustain and propagate life.
What happens if my stump doesn’t die?
If the stump and roots are successful in their efforts to “re-grow” they come back as the same species, but often develop much differently. What happens is that the tree will send up numerous “shoots” or “sprouts.” From a seed, the tree would start off with one leading “shoot” that would eventually grow into a single trunk. A stump, on the other hand, has a much larger root system in place as well as much more surface area exposed to the air than does a seed.
Why does it grow differently?
The “instructions” written into the tree’s genetic code tell it to utilize these conditions to its greatest advantage. It is in the tree’s best interest to maximize its production of the structures it lacks (leaves) so that it can manufacture the chemical food it lacks (sugar). Because of this, the tree will send up several “shoots” in order maximize its ability to collect the one and only missing structure (energy collecting leaves). Each successful new “shoot” will continue to grow both vertically and horizontally, resulting in a tree with many, similarly sized trunks.
If you pay attention, it isn’t uncommon to see living examples of this having happened long in the past. Trees with two or more main “trunks” extending to the ground are all over the place. You may also notice trees with a single trunk up to a certain height, where all of a sudden it separates into several. This can be indicative of the tree being cut or damaged much higher than ground level.
Weakness In Numbers
Is a tree with multiple trunks as structurally sound? In most cases, such trees are significantly weaker and thus more prone to future damage to you and your property. This weakness is largely due to how woody tissue is developed. As a straight, soft green shoot matures, its tissue develops in a uniform manner, slowly developing from flexible to rigid. The directional uniformity of this tissue is what translates into strength and rigidity while still allowing it enough flex to sway in the wind without breaking.
Hindsight is 20/20
The most common reason that property owners choose not to properly dispose of a stump after removal is in an effort to minimize cost. The thought being that by choosing to tolerate the inconvenience and liability of a left-behind stump, expenses can be minimized. In hindsight, however, this thought may be seen as misguided.
More often than not, the choice to dispose of the stump is eventually made within a year or two anyway. This requires a duplication of efforts on behalf of the property owner as well as the contracted stump removal specialist. Instead of saving money as originally intended, this route ends up being more expensive than contracting stump removal or stump grinding on the original visit.
The Cost of Doing Nothing
Based on the cost of the service alone, it is more effective to opt in for the removal of the stump at the time of the tree removal, getting everything done in one visit. This choice is even more obvious once you consider the risk and potential cost of delaying the stump disposal.