Looking for the best stump grinder? You’re in the right place, in this review I breakdown the best stump grinders on the market. STOP renting and wasting your money!
I run our family’s 400 acres farm and after years of renting stump grinders we decided a few years back to bite the bullet and buy our own. Best decision we ever made. (Because this was after probably paying the rental place enough money in fees to buy our own grinder several times over – seriously)
You don’t have to buy a brand new one, you can come across a few used beauties on Craigslist or Ebay, if you keep your eyes peeled and you’re in the right place at the right time as they are few and far between. (Seasonality is a big factor too in my opinion.)
Plus you can rent them from Lowes (they rent Dosko’s which feature in our list further down), as we did at first years but at a few hundred dollars a time it soon adds up and makes more sense to buy new. All those rental costs just seem such a waste now but what can you do?
The really good news is in just two good contracting jobs we were able to recoup the money for our stump grinding machine and its paid dividends since.
Tree Stump Grinder Reviews
The DK2 is the best for home and farm use as its cheap, has a 14HP engine, 12 inch cutting head and included is the tow bar. Cheapest place to find a deal is online through Amazon.
The best middle of the range tree stump grinder is hands down, a Dosko 200-6HC. Whilst it’s more expensive than the DK2 it features some upgrades that makes it worthy. Firstly it has the bullet proof Honda GX engine these things start and run extremely well and basically live forever. Secondly it comes with Greenteeth which are professional grade grinding teeth. Thirdly the improved RPM means cutting is far easier and requires less effort from the user and machine. This places less strain on the whole system improving its longevity. Great for small businesses.
The best commercial stump grinder is the Barreto SG30. This is a huge step up in terms of performance as you can put this to work on a 32 inch high tree stump. It’s also on tracks not wheels, so it can literally work anywhere with ease. Fast and effective this stump grinder should be top of anyone’s list who runs or is starting a tree care or removals business as at 35 inches wide its still very portable.
DK2 Power Adjustable Stump Grinder – Best For Residential Use
Details ‘DK2’ 14 horsepower tree stump grinder generates huge amounts of power for its size. Yes it’s a bit on the heavy side but as far as portable stump grinders go it’s fantastic.
The ‘direct belt drive system’ is the grinders main feature which powers a 3600 RPM system and a 12-inch cutting head all whilst avoiding having a clutch. Which is a big plus point here as it’s one less thing to go wrong.
The 14 HP gas engine provides first rate performance no matter where you use it and the sturdy frame helps absorb the vibrations so it’s really easy to handle when working. Using this when it’s cold out will be no issue. This grinder always fires up and runs well no matter the temperature.
It tops our list for residential use as it’s a great grinder for home and farm use because it is simple to use, easy to work with and that 12 inch cutting head does all the hard work with its carbide teeth, so you don’t have to.
For those reasons it is also very beginner-friendly and Detail K2, as part of the standard package, ships it with eye, ear and hand protection so once bought there are no other costs.
Stump grinders are inherently dangerous and so safety should be paramount and the DK2 was designed with safety at its core. Again making it great for beginner to intermediate use at home or on a farm.
This grinder operates well and for the machine’s size, a 50 lbs, 12 inch head is the biggest grinding head you could get on this. But that’s all you’ll need for residential or farm work. (most other grinders for the same use have a smaller head)
It has a dual locking wheel system which makes it easy to use across rough ground or on hills and it makes light work of fresh or old stumps.
The DK2 stump grinder works down to 9 inches below ground. Which is ample. And will work on stumps with a maximum above ground height of 12 inches so you haven’t got to over do it with the chainsaw before you get this grinder out.
There are grinders with bigger heads, larger engines offering more power and torque that will cut further below ground and above ground, admittedly. This isn’t the ‘Rolls Royce’ of stump grinders BUT in a ratio of price to performance and handling it’s a brilliant option for ‘normal’ home owners who are looking for the best bang for their buck or for anyone with a small business.
- Best option for all home and very light commercial requirements
- Good cutting range (above and below ground)
- Good affordability (tow bar included)
- Great for beginners as there is no clutch slippage
- Not suitable for medium to heavy commercial tree stump grinding work
- Slightly heavy than other models (but comes with a tow hitch bar)
Generac Pro Walk Behind Stump Grinder – Budget Friendly Option
If the DK2 model above is out of your price range then the Generac Pro Walk stump grinder is the next best thing.
Ok, so it’s cheaper than the DK2 and you can tell that from the design and feel. To save on costs they have used a less expensive, lighter frame but this does make it easier to handle and makes it more portable, which is a bonus for sure. Like the DK it also comes with a detachable tow bar adding to that portability. Because it’s a walk behind you can tow it into place then move it from there, which saves time.
For the engine size it is fuel efficient and the grinder has sufficient power to take care of stumps whilst giving a decent clean cut. But as a lighter, less powerful machine it will require more ground work to ready the area from grass, weeds or shrubs before you can start grinding or it can get clogged and bog down.
This stump grinder isn’t very good for hill work and works better on the relatively flat. Plus because of the way it sits on the frame, and because the wheels are quite close together, you find that when using one on a stump you have to work round and round the stump to get a good cut.
To conclude though, this is a good, portable, lightweight machine that comes with carbide tipped cutting teeth so if you’re looking for something relatively simple and slightly cheaper this could be the model for you.
It doesn’t have the power or usability for commercial stumping as it’s too small, but if you have a larger sized property or the odd requirement for stump grinding at residential properties then maybe it’s an option.
- More affordable
- Cheaper build quality
- Hard to maneuver and not great on slopes or hills.
Bear Cat SG340 Stump Grinder – Best Small Stump Grinder
Bear Cat doesn’t have the instant brand recognition that other brands have but that doesn’t mean a thing as this grinder can handle itself nonetheless.
Again this grinder fits that price to performance and power ratio really well. It’s around $2.5k so slightly more expensive than our top pick but for that ‘extra’ cost, comes extra power. So this makes our list as its a prime example of your get what you pay for performance wise.
The Bear Cat SG340 uses a Honda engine which is why, I believe, it is a mid price range product. But here’s the thing; Honda engines are bulletproof. It’s the first tree stump grinder to make our list with a truly world class monster engine. Monster not in size but in sheer performance as this thing will start first time everytime and will be running just as well in 20 years time.
The Honda engine powers a 7 inch cutting head. Before you fall off your chair, yes the head itself is smaller than the competition and the grinders reviewed above but that’s because it’s set up differently.
It uses a horizontal head placement, so instead of cutting into a stump it grinds down on a stump.
The horizontal grinding head is mounted on a 23-inch wide unit so it’s a slim build and the reason why it made our list as the best small stump grinder.
That makes it easy to maneuver this grinder through all terrains and work in all climates. And it uses a single-wheel brake system so once you’re in position over the stump it’s easy to move around to finish the job off quickly and efficiently .
This issue with other horizontal grinding heads is the chippings fly right at your feet and shins (and face)!
The Bear Cat has a protective screen at the front part of the unit which catches / deflects rogue wood chips. It goes without saying but always wear and use all the correct PPE when operating heavy equipment.
The head spins at a 3600 RPM, which is the same as some other models on this list and for low to mid entry tree stump grinders this RPM is very common. But the Bear Cat has oversized ATV tires making transporting it easier and it will move over the ground with ease.
To summarize this is a fairly decent choice for budget-conscious buyers who may prefer the horizontal style tree stump grinder.
Dosko Stump Grinder (200-6HC) – Best Mini Walk Behind Stump Grinder
For a compact unit only weighing 134lbs these really kick out some power and performance. They don’t need much space when working (dims: 56″ L x 23″ W x 45″ H) so they can get in between trees and the fantastic tyres make the Dosko, along with the fact it’s self propelled, available for work anywhere.
The handlebar folds down making transportation and storage super easy (Folds to: 36″ L x 23″ W x 23″ H).
If you are thinking the Dosko stump grinder looks familiar that’s because it probably is – Lowes rent this unit. I’ve used this stump grinder a whole bunch of times over the years and whether it’s been an older, beaten up Dosko or a brand new one (sometimes you get lucky) this has always performed effortlessly.
Starting first time on the pull even when cold is thanks to the Honda GX which is bulletproof and a seriously phenomenal engine. These engines just run and run mainly because they are so well made but also because you can not run these out of oil as they have an auto shut off sensor, this fail safe just adds to the longevity of the engine.
A well oiled Honda GX engine will do thousands of hours of work requiring just a spark plug change. They also come with a cyclone air cleaner so with tree bark, chippings and saw dust flying everywhere you know this engine will breathe just fine.
The fact Lowes rent this unit and no other should be testament enough to how good it is, as let’s face it, a rental never gets treated as well as a something that you own.
It does have a slightly smaller cutting grade than our top pick, as you can start it on a stump 10 inches above ground and it will grind to 9 inch below ground. Very respectable.
Raking up after using this is easier as it shreds the tree stump into slightly larger pieces thanks to its concave cutting area. The grinding head is a Greenteeth 500 series using a cutter wheel with a size of: 9-5/8″ Diameter x 3/8″ thick. Greenteeth are professional grade teeth.
Dosko does make the 337 13HC which is a large stump grinder with cutting capacity of 20″ above and 16″ below grade. The 337 is also towable.
Now the Gosko 200 is my favorite of all the stump grinders but it didn’t make our top pick for one good reason – price. It’s about 900-1k more than the DK2. BUT you get what you pay for in my opinion as that Honda engine is phenomenal with loads of torque AND it moves the grinding head at 4,700 RPM. That’s the best RPM on this list (so far). What this means is the Dosko is quick and does not need as much power to stump grind, saving engine strain and gas.
So whilst it is more; you are getting more for your money but if you look on Amazon I was able to find a deal on a brand new Dosko stump grinder for cheap.
- Honda GX engine with cyclone air cleaner
- Small and compact enough to be transported easily (folding handlebars)
- Self propelled, it will ‘walk’ itself up hills
- 4,700 RPM grinding head with Greenteeth
- Cutting spec: 10″ above grade & 9″ below grade
- More expensive than the DK2 (our top pick) but well worth it in every aspect.
Power King Stump Grinder – Best Compact Stump Grinder
A recognizable brand being bright orange (often confused with a Husqvarna) and comes with electric start, which always goes down well on cold mornings. It’s also relatively affordable when compared to other units on this list.
The main features of this Power King is its 14 HP engine that powers an 11-inch cutting head via its dual V-belts. The beauty though is a ‘1-Year Limited Warranty & 3-Year Kohler Engine Warranty’.
One benefit is it’s beginner-friendly as it comes with an adjustable power control so if you get into trouble you can instantly reduce the power or you can use the drum brake. The other benefit is it will tell you exactly when you need to do some maintenance as it has a built-in usage meter.
The cutting depth is about standard, at nine inches below and 11 inches above ground.
Power King ships this with an all weather cover, replacement teeth and a tow bar (that’s removable when in use). Whilst getting replacement teeth is great news it should highlight that the teeth this comes with aren’t as robust as other grinders on this list.
The good news is that you can fit Greenstar teeth to the Power King which are the teeth the Dosko grinder comes with and they are best in class and will far outlast anything else. So for heavy usage, to be able to upgrade the teeth is a bonus. Bad news is you have to buy them though.
Whilst those V belts are cool and never really slip it does bring up the age old question of belts vs gears, with costs and duration between replacements. The belts tend to be on the cheaper models and that is because belts are cheaper. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s just something to be mindful of. Again, I know i’ve said this before but you get what you pay for.
Husqvarna SG13 – Best Husqvarna Stump Grinder
We couldn’t have a best tree stump grinder list without featuring a Husqvarna, as they make, famously well made, long lasting outdoor equipment. But they are most well known for their chainsaws so how does the SG13 stump grinder fair?
Well immediately when you get within distance of this beast you can see it’s noticeably larger than most other grinders. The minute you get behind it you then realize it’s heavier too.
The Husqvarna weighs in at 252 lbs so yes it is heavier and larger but it all feels…right! It just feels so robust and sturdy with an awesome build quality (well you’d expect nothing less from Husqvarna.) So heavier and larger is not in the slightest bit a drawback in our opinion.
The handlebars will fold meaning it can be made smaller for transportation and storage and this unit is built for heavy use so what’s cool is you can adjust the bars during usage so it’s at the right position for user comfort.
The 14 inch grinding head sits on the end of the sturdy well made frame which features a solid shield to stop debris from flicking up and after using it, it’s noticeable how well it does control the chippings.
Again as you would expect the engines are very well made with the small husqvarna chainsaw engines lasting decades. With the SG13 we would expect no different. Part of the reason owners get amazing longevity from these engines are because the bearings are permanently self lubricated meaning they will always run in tip top condition.
This tree stump grinder is a step up from the rest of the pack and if you are sold on the Husqvarna then this should be a serious contender. It’s made, like the rest of Husqvaranas gear for the commercial market so it can take care of some heavy stumping day in day out.
- Good build quality
- Top recognizable brand
- 14 inch grinding head
- Heavier than the competition
- More expensive than the competition
Barreto Tracked Stump Grinder – Best Commercial Stump Grinder
As you are probably aware you can buy stump grinders for heavy logging requirements all the way up to $200,000, its mind blowing. Thankfully you can buy units that do everything they do but much much smaller and cheaper like the Barreto.
The one key reason the Barreto tops the list is its Briggs & Stratton Vanguard V-Twin 31hp engine. Wow! I’ve described the grinders above, with Honda engines as bomb proof, so the Briggs & Stratton has to be described as bomb proof then.
Home Depot rent the Barreto 30SG, Toro STX26 and the Vermeer SC30TX and I’ve rented all three – more than once. We have picked the Barreto over a Vermeer mainly due to purchase price, longevity, engine, spare parts and servicing, but there are a ton of crossovers between all those models. The Barreto is ‘the’ top of the range premium stump grinder there is nothing it won’t do.
Being 1700 lbs (and tracked) you can’t tow it (or lift it!) So if you’re looking at this end of the price and performance spectrum you’ll know you will need to have transportation for this grinder. It will drive up and into trailers so that’s no issue and happily down and out trailers at the other end so it’s not difficult to move from site to site. And at only 35.5 inches wide it’s not as big as it looks.
Those tracks mean you can literally drive this anywhere across all terrains and it will not get stuck, it’s awesome.
The max stump height is 32″ meaning you can get this working on some massive hardwood stumps, saving so much chainsaw time. The max grinding depth is 14″ so you can leave no trace at all.
If you have dont have a lot of stumping work to do or get large but infrequent work of this nature it’s probably best to rent this unit from Home Depot as it comes ready to work with a trailer. Yes, rental costs are not cheap but that’s life.
However about 10 rents of this thing and you could have bought one brand new, so if you do have alot of commercial, heavy use requirements buy your own! It’s so much cheaper in the long run plus any equipment purchase should be tax deductible.
- Superior cutting power
- Capable of tracking anywhere
- The best stump grinder on this list, without doubt
- Perfect for commercial usage
- Briggs & Stratton 31HP engine
- It’s the most expensive unit on this list
- Not all users needs this capability
Renting Vs Buying Stump Grinders
As I’ve mentioned throughout, you can rent stump grinders; you don’t have to buy one. If you only get infrequent jobs where a stump grinder is required then maybe renting is the best route.
My opinion is to rent one first, then buy. If only I had taken my own advice I would be better off, as what we always did on our farm was rent (like 10-20 times) then bought. We bought it far too late.
I dread to think how much money we have given the ‘hire’ place over the years – I honestly think the rental costs will have added up to the value of the machine a few times over. You live and learn.
A small to medium size stump grinder will cost around 120 bucks to rent for 24 hours and that on its own isn’t too bad. But then add in the circa 100 dollar cleaning fee and it’s starting to mount up. Plus the fact you have to drive to get it, load it, drive it to the site, do the job then drive it back to the store.
Let’s put it like this – in around 8 rental payments you could have bought the machine yourself for cash!
Lowes rent out the small to medium sized ‘Dosko’s’ (which are awesome)
Home Depot rents out small to medium sized PowerKing and they also rent out the commercial sized Barreto 30SG, Vermeer SC30TX and the Toro STX26 stump grinders.
Best Stump Grinder Brands
For commercial stump grinding:
For home / farm / ‘light commercial’ stump grinding
Types of Stump Grinders
Whilst there are different types of stump grinders most stump grinders on the market look the same way. They have two wheels and a vertical cutting disc. The exception to that vertical cutting disc rule are the horizontal cutting disc stump grinders like the ‘Bear Cat’. Then you have stump grinders with no wheels that have tracks instead, like the Barreto which is a commercial grinder.
Belt driven or not is a feature that is discussed a huge amount on forums like the arboristsite.com
Commercial grinders are bigger, more powerful and usually come on tracks not wheels. The really big commercial stump grinders used in forestry are so big that they have a cab area to sit in.
The important features of stump grinders, to look for when buying one are:
- power transmission system (important!)
- the engine’s horsepower
- the cutting teeth (replacing poor quality teeth all costs money)
Professional teeth are good for two reasons. Firstly they last longer and so need replacing less – good for your wallet. Secondly they cut through stumps better which places less strain on the machine, the disc and the engine.
Forestrytrader.com though is the best place to search for commercial tree stump grinders for sale.
Main Components Of A Stump Grinder
Let’s start with the cutting disc as this is the ‘business end’ of the machine and that’s the part everyone cares most about.
The teeth are bolted onto a stainless steel cutting disc, higher quality professional teeth like the Greenstar teeth on the Dosko machine will last longer and cut easier which will put less strain on the machine.
Sadly nothing lasts forever and all teeth will at some point need replacing. Size of the disc will vary from machine to machine but about the standard size is between 10 and 14 inches.
Working backward from the cutting disc, next up is the drive system. The vast majority of stump grinders use a belt system but some larger grinders have gears. Naturally, belt driven systems will eventually fail as the belts wear out and require replacement. The belts are made from rubber and rubber perishes so replacement of belts is normal and not too expensive. Depending on usage belts can require replacements yearly or less often.
Premium stump grinders wont have belts but will instead have a gearing system. Whilst these grinders are more expensive to purchase the argument for them is that they will require less maintenance and ongoing servicing.
The engine is the last main component of a stump grinder. Small engines will run on standard gas but larger commercial engines could run on diesel.
Typical engine sizes for grinders are anywhere between 10 and 16 horsepower. Most are about 14 HP though as this provides enough power to run a small to medium sized grinder with a 10-14 inch disc. The best small engines for longevity and work rate are engines like Hondas.
Best Stump Grinder
The most popular brand for home and farm use is the PowerKing. It hits that sweet spot of power versus affordability plus it’s sold at HomeDepot so it’s also the most accessible.
The cheaper alternatives haven’t been mentioned on this list for a reason. That reason is cheaper machinery designed for this purpose will end up costing you more in the long run. For instance cheaper teeth just need replacing more often and that’s time and money spent all whilst the machine is out of use.
Also the engines, on the cheaper models they have cheaper engines. These never last as long and whilst you can replace drive belts and teeth it’s more difficult to replace engines when they cease or blow up. Let alone starting cheap engines in the cold is a nightmare.
The best engines are the Honda’s that feature on the Bluebird and the Dosko Stump Grinders for residential / farm / light commercial. And of course the Briggs & Stratton on the Barreto for any commercial needs.