What’s the best way to remove small trees and shrubs?

A simple landscaping job you may be called on to perform is removing small trees and shrubs. As we will see from this discussion on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, you can do things the hard way and make some money, or do things the easy way and make more money. Which option you choose to perform the job will depend on what resources you have at your disposal.

One lawn care business owner wrote “I have a bunch of over grown Junipers and Ornamental broad leaf evergreens I need to remove. They are located in a fenced in back yard so using my truck to pull them out is out of the question. I was thinking about digging around them, using branch cutters on smaller roots and a chainsaw on the bigger roots, but I am worried my chainsaw will dull to badly from the dirt.

Since this job is on a family member’s property, I want to make sure I get it right. In the past such jobs seemed to take a lot of time and energy to complete and were easy to underbid. What I had done on previous jobs is I’ve dug around them, used branch cutters on smaller roots and hand saw on bigger ones. Used a spud bar to pry it out (those things are great). I am thinking in this case I’ll use a 32″ self propelled walk behind mower as well on planks to pull it out (so I don’t leave ruts).”

A second lawn care business owner said “you could cut them as low as possible with your saw, then grind the stumps out with a rented stump grinder. I have a couple local guys I have on call that do stump grinding as a business, and it’s surprisingly cheap.

I took 3 large trees out of a yard today and had my stump guy come over and grind them. One had an extensive root system unlike any I’ve ever seen before. He charged me $200 total. I billed the owner $1,000 for the tress and $300 for the grinding. So I guess it pays to know the right people.

Its good to have a stump person when you do this type of work. Even I get to make money on his VERY expensive equipment. I think he said he paid $30,000 for his grinder and trailer or something like that.”

A third added “I would advise against using a chain saw anywhere near the dirt, it would not only dull your chain saw blade but also ruin the bar on the chainsaw and present a hazzard to the operator.

Using a mini excavator is the way to go and will do it in no time. We do a lot of these types of jobs. I have one unit that the tracks retract and I can go through a 32″ opening which is ideal for getting through fences.

We also use a stump grinder mounted on the three point hitch of the tractor. That works slick although the mini excavator is my choice as I can bury everything and grade, soil and sod it for the customer. A better job done faster means more money for you. Stop busting your back. Make the machines do the work.”

A fourth said “I still do things the old fashion way. For this job, I would dig around each shrub using the shovel to cut the roots and pry it out of the ground. Take special care though with the root system if you are moving the plant to a new location.”

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