After tree removal, you are left with the stump to deal with, especially if you dream of having a level and unbroken yard. The following guide will help you renovate the lawn, starting with choosing a removal method all the way to ensuring the lawn remains level as the years pass.
Stump removal methods
When it comes to removing the actual stump, there are four main options:
Dig it out. This is really only a choice for relative small stumps, since it can be impossible to remove the extensive deep roots of a large stump.
Burn it. Building a fire over the stump and burning it to ash is an option, but not necessarily a safe one since the fire can spread underground.
Break it down. This uses a chemical herbicide to kill the stump, which then begins to decompose rather quickly for easier removal. The main issue is that it takes some time to complete, and the herbicide can affect future plants or lawn grass.
Grind it down. This is the option offered by most professionals. A stump grinder is used to grind out the stump to well beneath ground level so you can plant over it. For most larger stumps, this is the best way to remove it if you want to grow a lawn.
Site Cleanup and Testing
Wood chips and sawdust steal nitrogen from the soil as they decompose. Unfortunately, nitrogen is the main nutrient grass needs, so the remaining wood can make it difficult to establish grass. Taking the time to rake up and remove as much sawdust and wood chips as possible is the key to establishing lawn. You should also have the soil tested, especially if the trunk is from a pine or other conifer. This is because years of fallen needles may have made the soil acidic, which can prevent healthy grass growth.
Soil Preparation and Planting
If the soil is acidic, you will need to add a base amendment, such as powdered limestone. The lab that performed your testing can recommend the amount necessary, since it depends on the soil test results. It's also a good idea to work plenty of compost into the planting site to replenish other helpful nutrients. The soil will settle over several weeks after the stump is removed, so be patient and wait at least a month before planting. You can add more compost to the soil as it settles so it remains level with the rest of the lawn.
When you do choose to plant, sod is a quicker alternative than seeding. Plus, sod already has established root systems so it is more likely to overcome any slight acidity left in the soil.
Maintenance Is Key
When a stump is ground, some of it may remain beneath the soil. This is especially true of large roots branching out from the stump site. These will begin to decompose over the coming months and years, which means the lawn may become bumpy or uneven as the ground settles. Fortunately, this is a simple fix. All you need to do is fill in the sunken areas with a layer of compost, making sure the grass is long enough to show above the compost layer. The grass will grow to compensate for the additional soil and the lawn will remain level.