Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

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KandT
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Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by KandT » Sun Sep 22, 2019 2:53 pm

I have been enjoying clearing some trees from my 3 acre lot.

I grew up running a chainsaw so easy trees to cut down are no problem. I hired someone for the dangerous ones. I noticed that it is rare that the tree feller has a stump solution.

I have a 32 HP Kubota Tractor, and an F250 diesel truck. I found a stump grinder that runs off the PTO on the tractor and was thinking of buying a trailer and offering it as a service. If you aren't familiar with tractors the PTO would provide the power from the tractor to the stump grinder and the stump grinder itself is behind the tractor.

Total additional investment to start would be about $7500.

I am 45 and work in medical sales. This would be a side hustle to see if it went anywhere. I have the investment in cash.

Any thoughts?

MathWizard
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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by MathWizard » Sun Sep 22, 2019 3:01 pm

How much would you charge for stump grinding?

How long would it take to make back your investment, and is this worth your time.

Here, tree services grind the stump and haul away the debris. If they do not in your area, people must not want to pay for it.
Maybe there is a huge backlog though.

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whodidntante
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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by whodidntante » Sun Sep 22, 2019 3:05 pm

How are you going to generate sales? Are you going to get referrals from local tree services? Can you commit to be available?

What will your costs be like and what is the likely ROI on your investment?

Do you want to do this work?

What are the insurance and regulatory requirements? What is the tax burden?

If you still want to do it after a sober analysis, go ahead.

sport
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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by sport » Sun Sep 22, 2019 3:10 pm

Will stump grinding put a strain on your tractor? You might end up needing to replace the tractor with something stronger.

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Doom&Gloom
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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by Doom&Gloom » Sun Sep 22, 2019 3:16 pm

MathWizard wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 3:01 pm
How much would you charge for stump grinding?

How long would it take to make back your investment, and is this worth your time.

Here, tree services grind the stump and haul away the debris. If they do not in your area, people must not want to pay for it.
Maybe there is a huge backlog though.
This seems key.

The last time I needed an independent stump grinder (my regular tree guy now grinds stumps also), I was charged $50/stump in a LCOL area with no sawdust being hauled away. That was about 15 years ago, so I have no idea what the current market is. I recalled thinking at the time that it seemed a pretty easy buck for the guy, but he already had the equipment (probably paid for) and didn't do any cleanup.

If all the tree cutting guys in your area also have stump grinding equipment, I would guess the available stump grinding market would be pretty small.

StealthRabbit
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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by StealthRabbit » Sun Sep 22, 2019 4:21 pm

Run the numbers
Validate assumptions
Consider the time involved (include billing, (COLLECTING), bookkeeping, taxes, reporting, insurance, estimating, moving equipment, fixing... (and fixing again). )

I have a stumpgrinder attachment for my tracked Bobcat, it is the most profitable of (9) attachments. But... really tough on the equipment. and expensive to repair. 10 seconds into Rocks & can cost you $500 and 4 hours downtime. As trees grow, they can 'draw rocks up' into their stump body (above ground level)

'Smart' operators REPLACE the Stumpgrinder attachment annually (good trade in) / section 179 accelerated depreciation.
For 'recreational / intermittent' use, consider renting one first.
I would not want a 3pt stump grinder, as 'Bounce' is likely and not good for grinder or tractor.
Customers are flakes (consider the (likely) disaster each job could be ) Working for others is very different than yourself.
Stump-grinding is done from 'discretionary funds' (be aware... economy tanks, you will have a piece of capital equipment unused)
any side hustle takes time and money. This one also has liability, danger, moving costs and hassle, DOT hassles (truck police), high maint of your equip, and wearing out your personal stuff. BUT it can also provide cost benefit (tax and equip accumulation) .


The tracked bobcat is very fast 'stump-to-stump' ~ 30 seconds to relocate and be digging.
Stumps typically cost $1 / inch at the ground level. I can do 50 (<24") stumps in a good day, or... ONE troublesome stump (We have stumps to 70"+ dia)

If you like doing 'fix-up' / tractor work... consider one of my side-hustles. Buying trashed view rural property and fixing up and reselling, or building shop with apartment (2 months) for rental and future sale. I like to buy places with destroyed, but legally placed mobile homes (no-one wants those) But... you get a well, power, road, septic, outbuildings, and quicker permits (legal building lot).

Be wise,
don't get hurt... My neighbor rented a stumpgrinder cuz I was working overseas for a few yrs. He died of a heart attack on the first stump. But, you can really get hurt with heavy equip, My wife will have a GREAT estate sale! (After using the backhoe to plant me next to the dog(s))

Know your terrain. Tractors are very dangerous (tip over). I lost a lot of farmer classmates to accidents.

Tracked Bobcat is quite stable on inclines, but dangerous as well. (my son and a friend at work rolled bobcats. )

*BTW, I am NOT a SMART operator... just spent $2800 on my stump-grinder repair (not fully repaired yet)

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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by Bacchus01 » Sun Sep 22, 2019 4:28 pm

I ran a stump grinder for two summers in college. It’s hard and dangerous work to do all day long.

Stump grinders also need to be maintained daily. The teeth will need to be replaced or sharpened after nearly every day of work. Fuel and maintenance costs add up.

I never used a PTO mount but I can imagine a fair amount of wear on the tractor.

Also, a tractor driven on a residential lawn is going to cause problems in a lot of cases. How will you fix the lawn after you tear it up?

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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by RadAudit » Sun Sep 22, 2019 5:16 pm

I just had three trees removed from the yard. The tree service included stump grinding.

Are you planning to free-lance stump grinding or become affiliated with a tree service? Either way, how are you going to do that? How is that going to conflict with your day job?
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Raymond
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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by Raymond » Sun Sep 22, 2019 5:33 pm

Many activities which are enjoyable as hobbies cease to be fun when they become a job.

In your situation, I would focus on medical sales and continue digging up my own stumps :happy
Last edited by Raymond on Sun Sep 22, 2019 5:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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NoblesvilleIN
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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by NoblesvilleIN » Sun Sep 22, 2019 5:33 pm

I agree with Stealthrabbit. I researched a couple of years ago purchasing a PTO stump grinder for our utility tractor. Looking at tractor forums, the consensus is that they are very hard on tractors (vibration damage). I decided that I would let most of the stumps on our property rot and possibly rent a walk behind grinder for those that must come out.

Housedoc
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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by Housedoc » Sun Sep 22, 2019 5:40 pm

$25 to $50 a stump depending on how hungry the fellow is. I would enjoy my hobby and move on. I ruined a great woodworking hobby by building cabinets, furniture, and entertainment centers for clients. Burned out after doing Real job 50 to 60 hrs a week and pushing to get wood projects out for a few years.

likegarden
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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by likegarden » Sun Sep 22, 2019 5:43 pm

Usually when I have a tree removed, I had the same guy also grind the stump. He has two stump grinders, one of them is slimmer and fits through the gate to my backyard, with backyard being fenced in. Both stump grinders are remotely controlled, so he can stand far enough away and will not be hurt should something happen. 6 years ago he charged $50 per stump. The stump grinder he will use on a specific day will arrive on a truck and drive off it.

brianH
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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by brianH » Sun Sep 22, 2019 6:38 pm

I can't comment much on the business plan, but I'm having a few trees removed in a few days, and the tree guy is charging $100/stump for 2 medium sized trees (say a 1-2' diameter stump) and $300 for the stump of a large silver maple with probably a 4-5' diameter stump and mound. This is in a MCOL area.

It definitely seems like the ROI would be decent if you could get business. As a homeowner that is willing to DIY, I'd consider renting a grinder myself, but for these few trees, the hassle isn't worth it to save $200 or so. I'd question why a tree service wouldn't have their own grinders and need to bring you in.

Bacchus01
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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by Bacchus01 » Sun Sep 22, 2019 6:44 pm

brianH wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 6:38 pm
I can't comment much on the business plan, but I'm having a few trees removed in a few days, and the tree guy is charging $100/stump for 2 medium sized trees (say a 1-2' diameter stump) and $300 for the stump of a large silver maple with probably a 4-5' diameter stump and mound. This is in a MCOL area.

It definitely seems like the ROI would be decent if you could get business. As a homeowner that is willing to DIY, I'd consider renting a grinder myself, but for these few trees, the hassle isn't worth it to save $200 or so. I'd question why a tree service wouldn't have their own grinders and need to bring you in.
Have you priced out the cost of a Vermeer or Morbark stump grinder? It’s a tough business to turn an ROI if you’re not also getting the rest of the work. They are very expensive machines.

michaelingp
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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by michaelingp » Sun Sep 22, 2019 6:52 pm

I think that most people expect the stump grinding to be part of the deal when removing a tree, although not necessarily by the same company. The last tree we had removed, the tree company recommended a guy to grind the stump and that's who we used. It was a really big tree company, so I don't agree that most tree companies also have stump grinders. Some tree companies are just a few guys, and they'd rather climb trees than grind stumps.

In other words, people do some research and get multiple estimates for taking the tree down, but not for the stump grinding. Therefore, I think almost all your referrals are going to come from tree companies. I would say call every tree company in your area, explain your business idea and see what they say. They might say, "Sure, if you do good work, we'll add you to our list", or they might say, "No, we give all our work to the owner's kid," or something in between.

brianH
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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by brianH » Sun Sep 22, 2019 7:53 pm

Bacchus01 wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 6:44 pm
brianH wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 6:38 pm
It definitely seems like the ROI would be decent if you could get business. As a homeowner that is willing to DIY, I'd consider renting a grinder myself, but for these few trees, the hassle isn't worth it to save $200 or so. I'd question why a tree service wouldn't have their own grinders and need to bring you in.
Have you priced out the cost of a Vermeer or Morbark stump grinder? It’s a tough business to turn an ROI if you’re not also getting the rest of the work. They are very expensive machines.
I'm just commenting based on my situation. The local rental place will rent me a Vermeer 252 for the day for about $300. I have to imagine owning the equipment works out to far less than that, maintenance and depreciation included.

It would all come down to how much business you could get. Like I said, most of the tree companies I contacted did perform "in-house" stump grinding, so I'm not so sure how much work you could find grinding stumps on the side.

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JoeRetire
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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by JoeRetire » Sun Sep 22, 2019 8:01 pm

KandT wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 2:53 pm
Total additional investment to start would be about $7500.

I am 45 and work in medical sales. This would be a side hustle to see if it went anywhere. I have the investment in cash.

Any thoughts?
Seems like a reasonable second job if you have free time on your hands that doesn't need to be kept free. Where I live many (most?) folks cut down their own trees and don't hire a tree service. But I don't know many who grind their own stumps.

It would be worth a try. What's the worst that could happen?
Maybe you won't like it or can't make any money. At worst you are out some time and something less than $7500 (assuming a used stump grinder has some resale value).

Make sure you are properly insured (both liability and injury).

Good luck.
Don't be a lemming.

pepperz
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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by pepperz » Sun Sep 22, 2019 8:18 pm

Here is what I would recommend if you want to be *sure* before you leap: Start selling immediately.

1. Find someone who needs your help. (How would you do that if you had the equipment right now?)

2. Make them an offer to take care of it.

3. If he says “yes”- tell them you’re waiting for new equipment and there is a waiting list and you’ll put him first in line.

4. (Optional) take a down payment to secure their spot.

If you can get enough people (5? 7? 10?) to say yes that way, id say you have a winner.

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greg24
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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by greg24 » Sun Sep 22, 2019 8:22 pm

We have found it is more difficult to find a stump grinder than a tree cutter. As mentioned above, some tree cutters don't want to grind stumps.

We've also had difficulty getting someone to grind a couple large stumps. If you could specialize in large stump removal, there may be a market there.

But obviously this is all hyper-localized.

Mr. Rumples
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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by Mr. Rumples » Sun Sep 22, 2019 9:09 pm

I wonder what the demand is. I have noticed many people where I live leave the stump to rot. They have taken to having the tree cut down to less than one foot and planting ivy either around its base or if its hollow, inside. I have had three large, I should say huge, white oak trees taken out. The cost of the stump removal was $200 per tree. I will let nature take it instead over time. Over one I have planted ivy, on the other ajuga and around a third plugs of Pink Cotton Candy grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris).

What is the cost of the insurance on this business? I might be the odd man out, but I always want to see the certificate before I let work like this be done on my land.

Then there is the cost of what to do with the sawdust. Some owners might want it, others to have it removed; it is ok for mulch, but will burn the lawn if left. In my county, that would be commercial waste and the minimum to have the county dump take it (where you bring it in a truck) is $50. Initial cost, insurance, dump fees, gas &c. how profitable is it going to be?

Other than time or a grinder there is no easy solution to get rid of a stump. In most areas where there are homes, burning it out is illegal.
Last edited by Mr. Rumples on Sun Sep 22, 2019 10:47 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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JoeRetire
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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by JoeRetire » Sun Sep 22, 2019 9:15 pm

Mr. Rumples wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 9:09 pm
I wonder what the demand is. I have noticed many people where I live leave the stump to rot. They have taken to having the tree cut down to less than one foot and planting ivy either around its base or if its hollow, inside. I have had three large, I should say huge, white oak trees taken out. The cost of the stump removal was $200 per tree. I will let nature take it instead over time.
I hollowed out the top of a stump and used it as a planter one time. It looked nice, wasn't all that hard to do, and saved a lot of money.
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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by texasdiver » Sun Sep 22, 2019 10:40 pm

I'm not an expert here but I have paid to have stumps ground and I've also rented the equipment to do it myself.

My thought is that the majority of customers who will pay $$$ to have stumps ground are going to be residential customers with landscaped yards that will not accommodate a tractor with a PTO stump grinder. You'll need a self-propelled walk-behind machine for that kind of work. Most likely rural customers are either (1) not going to bother dealing with most stumps, or (2) going to be farming operations with their own equipment. The number of rural customers with large lots that can accommodate a tractor and that want to pay for stump grinding is going to be pretty small I suspect.

In any event, doing it with a walk-behind machine is hard dirty work and not something I'd want to do for a long-term business.

Bacchus01
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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by Bacchus01 » Mon Sep 23, 2019 5:39 am

brianH wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 7:53 pm
Bacchus01 wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 6:44 pm
brianH wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 6:38 pm
It definitely seems like the ROI would be decent if you could get business. As a homeowner that is willing to DIY, I'd consider renting a grinder myself, but for these few trees, the hassle isn't worth it to save $200 or so. I'd question why a tree service wouldn't have their own grinders and need to bring you in.
Have you priced out the cost of a Vermeer or Morbark stump grinder? It’s a tough business to turn an ROI if you’re not also getting the rest of the work. They are very expensive machines.
I'm just commenting based on my situation. The local rental place will rent me a Vermeer 252 for the day for about $300. I have to imagine owning the equipment works out to far less than that, maintenance and depreciation included.

It would all come down to how much business you could get. Like I said, most of the tree companies I contacted did perform "in-house" stump grinding, so I'm not so sure how much work you could find grinding stumps on the side.
Yeah, it’s anout a $20k machine and a small one. Probably good up to 24” stumps.

That’s how I’d get started if I was the OP. I’d rent. It might be a break-even proposition at best, but he can see what the demand really looks like and see if it’s work he wants to do.

At $50/stump he’s gotta do 6 a day to break even. That will take probably 4+ hours.

I think you can make it work, but some more study of the market is needed. What’s the local demand? What are the costs? What is the competition? It’s been a long time since I did this work (mid 90s) but working for a tree company we probably ran the grinders a couple times a week. This was for a small tree business and we were cutting, trimming and clearing tress every single day. There was little competition on the area and we had both a walk behind and a large Vermeer grinder. It was in a city of 60K people. I just don’t know that you could have run it as a stand-alone business. Not enough demand. Maybe that’s changed or the OP lives in a better area for it.

I had a friend who retired from the police force two years ago. He lives in a city of 300K people. He bought a large brush chipper and stump grinder because h wanted to make a go of that business. He lasted one year and sold the equipment and went back to work as a police officer in year two. Why? He couldn’t get enough work. Either the jobs were already being done by the larger tree companies and landscape firms, or the margins were just too thin. He said he spent more than half his time quoting with no calls back.

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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by spitty » Mon Sep 23, 2019 6:53 am

Biggest part of the job will be sawdust cleanup and filling the holes with topsoil. And get ready to chainsaw because some of the stumps will be 10" or more tall. The HO will want a perfectly smooth surface ready to plant grass, but of course you can offer a cheaper price to just "grind and leave". I've rented a Vermeer walk-behind several times and it works great and is safe/easy to use. However, very slow stump-stump especially on and off the trailer for longer distances. Maybe try this first to get a feel for the biz before investing $7500. I watched a Youtube of the PTO version--works well and is faster than I thought. All that dirt grinding will require lots of sharpening; I wonder how much of a pain that will be.

This one looks pretty good and is about 1/3 your price:
https://woodlandmills.com/product/wg24-stump-grinder/

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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by TomatoTomahto » Mon Sep 23, 2019 7:52 am

MathWizard wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 3:01 pm
Maybe there is a huge backlog though.
Ha! :D I see what you did there.

FWIW, I had to have 9 huge oak trees felled this year as a result of a drought and two years of gypsy moths before I bought the property. I have not had a single stump ground. I have, however, paid to have the wood split for me. I should have firewood for my lifetime. I would have done it myself, except I’m clumsy and my wife isn’t quite ready to be a widow yet, so she won’t let me. I can’t be the only clumsy guy; I’d look into a wood bucking/splitting/stacking side hustle.
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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by lthenderson » Mon Sep 23, 2019 8:19 am

KandT wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 2:53 pm
Any thoughts?
For the first several years after buying this property, I cut down lots of dead trees and thus had lots of stumps. One day out of the blue, a man knocked on my door who said he was a stump grinder and wanted to know if I wanted my stumps ground. I don't remember how much I paid since it was a number of years ago but I remember thinking it was cheap at the time for the 30+ stumps he did.

Anyway, I got to talking to the fellow and he said he generally gets called to a town for a large job, in this case, a nearby golf course that had over a 100 dead ash tree stumps. He said that he boosts his income by driving around town looking for lots with several stumps in them and "cold calling" the owners by knocking on the door. He said he can generally drum up several days of work this way before going off to the next big job in another town.

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Sandtrap
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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by Sandtrap » Mon Sep 23, 2019 8:28 am

Great tips and suggestions thus far.

Some randome thoughts:
1. There is always going to be a lot of manual labor. Lot's. Will you be doing the shovel work yourself?
2. The grinder will make debris to be hauled away. The tractor can get the bulk of it up. Will you be doing the raking and shovel work yourself?
3. The ground will have to be backfilled with dirt. The tractor can do much of it. Again, lot's of manual labor. Do you have a good back?
4. Tractors are not very good on sloped ground. Worse if wet. Dangerous if heavy slope and wet and sideways. Trees do not only grow on flat land.
* This is a really big consideration. Ability to drive between homes, maneuverability, safety, etc.
* Homeowners can be fickle. They want the stump removed then envision the ground and surrounding area untouched and pristine. Yes. Unrealistic. But, you will need to fix every spot of ground that you mess up.
5. As stated earlier, a tracked Bobcat has a low CG and works great on moderate slopes. In time, you may want to swap your tractor for this.
*A direct hydraulic drive is far superior to a PTO. And, being in back of the tractor, get's "interesting" on site.
6. Is your trailer a hydraulic dump trailer? If you haul away debris you will want this. Or, there will be lot's of shoveling.
7. If you were in the trades or construction industry, etc, as a day job, this might make sense. But, coming from medical sales, non physical work, means it might get "interesting". A stump grinding business would do well when networked with tree trimming contractors that do not want to bother with the stumps. Can you work in this dynamic? Have you done that before?
8. A successful side hustle can sometimes turn into a lucrative main career and entrepreneurial business, which is great. Every business naturally either grows or shrinks. What will you do if the stump business grows such that you have more business, and need employees, and insurance, and etc.?
9. There are ongoing costs to a new business "besides the initial investment" and it will feel like pouring money into a dark hole. With nor guarantee of result. Are you prepared to do this?
10. Is the business seasonal where you are? (winter?). There are ongoing costs such as insurance, etc, that you have to pay regardless of job income. Can you do this?
11. You will get the jobs that the landscapers, tree trimmers, and site prep companies, do not want to do or can't do. The jobs where the homeowner, stump location, logistics, etc, are the PITZ.

j :D
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andypanda
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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by andypanda » Mon Sep 23, 2019 8:42 am

"Have you priced out the cost of a Vermeer"

Yes, big bucks. I priced them after we had 3 trees removed and the stumps ground. The tree service uses the same man regularly and he showed up with a 40 hp diesel Vermeer - non-marring tracks, remote controlled, and fast as heck. He was out of here in less than an hour. I'd love to have one and recall finding one for sale online - 500 hours on it, one owner, like new, only $37,500.

They make new ones with diesels up to 74 hp.

I did some tree service work back in the early '70s around DC and we certainly didn't have a stump grinder that big or fast.

barnaclebob
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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by barnaclebob » Mon Sep 23, 2019 9:06 am

Sounds like an expensive way to find out why you hire someone to do this kind of work.

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KandT
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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by KandT » Mon Sep 23, 2019 8:19 pm

OP Here. I appreciate and read every single reply. I love all the thought that was put into the replies.

Just a couple thoughts on some things I read:

1). There definitely is better equipment to do this job but a large capital outlay to do it. I am not willing to tie up that money. This ends up being about $2500 for the PTO grinder (I have the Kubota tractor) and a $5000 trailer (I have the F250 to tow it).

2). Yes I am willing to do manual labor. In fact, I have noticed that nearly everyone hires everything out where I live. In fact I am probably looked down upon because I cut my own trees and chipped the limbs. My neighbors think I am crazy but everyone is looking for good house maintenance people.
I am professional spending my career in medical sales and I like to think that I would be a little more polished than some of the tree guys. IF nothing else people seem to trust me quickly.

3). The tree guys that I hired to take down the dangerous trees at my house seem like they never saw someone bust hump on the project in between time they gave me the quote and when they came back.

4). I spent my childhood with chainsaws and tractors so I know they can be dangerous. The Kubota has a loader on it so I doubt there will be much shovel work.

Please keep the thoughts coming. Only bogleheads think like me.

Oh and PS. My neighbor passed me in her Porsche with one ridiculous "Kentucky Derby" hat on today. I was in the yard filthy and covered in sweat and wood chips. I wonder if she knows I have no debt including my house or vehicles or credit cards or any debt period. I can't help but think she feels like she is living next to someone less than her. I thought of this forum and the "Millionaire Next Door" and had a chuckle at her expense. :)

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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by Watty » Mon Sep 23, 2019 8:38 pm

One thing that may not have been mentioned is that you cannot get a tractor into many suburban back yards and even if you could it would likely tear up the yard. The guy that removed some stumps at my house had a self-propelled grinder that was only about three feet wide.

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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by forgeblast » Tue Sep 24, 2019 8:14 am

KandT wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 2:53 pm
I have been enjoying clearing some trees from my 3 acre lot.

I grew up running a chainsaw so easy trees to cut down are no problem. I hired someone for the dangerous ones. I noticed that it is rare that the tree feller has a stump solution.

I have a 32 HP Kubota Tractor, and an F250 diesel truck. I found a stump grinder that runs off the PTO on the tractor and was thinking of buying a trailer and offering it as a service. If you aren't familiar with tractors the PTO would provide the power from the tractor to the stump grinder and the stump grinder itself is behind the tractor.

Total additional investment to start would be about $7500.

I am 45 and work in medical sales. This would be a side hustle to see if it went anywhere. I have the investment in cash.

Any thoughts?
I see mostly tree trimmers offering this service. Depending on the area it might not be needed. Some people get chainsaw artists to make something.
I worry about your tractor weight, what will it do to their yard, who fixes the ruts etc that may be put in. A good place to ask about these would be tractorbynet great tractor forum and people.

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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by abuss368 » Tue Sep 24, 2019 8:19 am

We had a stump removed once. Believe it was $50 - $75 for a large stump.
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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by abuss368 » Tue Sep 24, 2019 8:20 am

I heard of folks who take a drill and put a ton of holes in a stump. Filled it with gasoline and ignited. Stump burned out and was gone. Probably not safe for environment.
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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by Doom&Gloom » Tue Sep 24, 2019 11:35 am

abuss368 wrote:
Tue Sep 24, 2019 8:20 am
I heard of folks who take a drill and put a ton of holes in a stump. Filled it with gasoline and ignited. Stump burned out and was gone. Probably not safe for environment.
A neighbor has been periodically burning a stump that is just across our property line. I've seen diesel fuel, gasoline, and fallen limbs contributing to his efforts. So far this has been a 15 year project, the center is hollowed out, but most of the stump is still there. If he had paid a stump grinder $50 that stump could have been gone 15 years ago.

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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by abuss368 » Tue Sep 24, 2019 11:36 am

Doom&Gloom wrote:
Tue Sep 24, 2019 11:35 am
abuss368 wrote:
Tue Sep 24, 2019 8:20 am
I heard of folks who take a drill and put a ton of holes in a stump. Filled it with gasoline and ignited. Stump burned out and was gone. Probably not safe for environment.
A neighbor has been periodically burning a stump that is just across our property line. I've seen diesel fuel, gasoline, and fallen limbs contributing to his efforts. So far this has been a 15 year project, the center is hollowed out, but most of the stump is still there. If he had paid a stump grinder $50 that stump could have been gone 15 years ago.
I agree. I paid a stump grinder and had it removed.
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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by Bacchus01 » Tue Sep 24, 2019 12:30 pm

abuss368 wrote:
Tue Sep 24, 2019 8:20 am
I heard of folks who take a drill and put a ton of holes in a stump. Filled it with gasoline and ignited. Stump burned out and was gone. Probably not safe for environment.
Why would that not be safe for the environment? What do you think happens when a stump decomposes?

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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by abuss368 » Tue Sep 24, 2019 12:32 pm

Bacchus01 wrote:
Tue Sep 24, 2019 12:30 pm
abuss368 wrote:
Tue Sep 24, 2019 8:20 am
I heard of folks who take a drill and put a ton of holes in a stump. Filled it with gasoline and ignited. Stump burned out and was gone. Probably not safe for environment.
Why would that not be safe for the environment? What do you think happens when a stump decomposes?
Was unsure about gas (and another poster above who noted diesel) being dumped into ground. Is that safe?
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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by WaffleCone » Tue Sep 24, 2019 4:02 pm

There are a few stump removers around my area. They charge roughly $100/stump with a discount if they're small or you get more than a few done. Generally the guy drives around doing estimates and then shows up to run the equipment with a laborer to level and load the grindings.

In the end I don't think they make a whole lot of money, especially when you factor in wear-and-tear on equipment and the time they spend running around doing estimates and dumping the grindings. Even if you do it yourself, it's a business where someone can always undercut you to give the lowest price. My guess is the insurance is very high, both personal and liability. Stuff shoots out even with proper guards on the equipment.

I had a few stumps done not long ago. The guy drove basically a giant remote controlled saw blade to the stump and within 2 minutes of grinding something broke and he had to come out the next day.

I'd keep looking for that side-hustle.

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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by TxAg » Tue Sep 24, 2019 4:14 pm

I think you'd be better off brush hogging or mowing for people, though your tractor is on the small side

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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by barnaclebob » Tue Sep 24, 2019 4:20 pm

KandT wrote:
Mon Sep 23, 2019 8:19 pm
OP Here. I appreciate and read every single reply. I love all the thought that was put into the replies.

Just a couple thoughts on some things I read:

1). There definitely is better equipment to do this job but a large capital outlay to do it. I am not willing to tie up that money. This ends up being about $2500 for the PTO grinder (I have the Kubota tractor) and a $5000 trailer (I have the F250 to tow it).

2). Yes I am willing to do manual labor. In fact, I have noticed that nearly everyone hires everything out where I live. In fact I am probably looked down upon because I cut my own trees and chipped the limbs. My neighbors think I am crazy but everyone is looking for good house maintenance people.
I am professional spending my career in medical sales and I like to think that I would be a little more polished than some of the tree guys. IF nothing else people seem to trust me quickly.

3). The tree guys that I hired to take down the dangerous trees at my house seem like they never saw someone bust hump on the project in between time they gave me the quote and when they came back.

4). I spent my childhood with chainsaws and tractors so I know they can be dangerous. The Kubota has a loader on it so I doubt there will be much shovel work.

Please keep the thoughts coming. Only bogleheads think like me.

Oh and PS. My neighbor passed me in her Porsche with one ridiculous "Kentucky Derby" hat on today. I was in the yard filthy and covered in sweat and wood chips. I wonder if she knows I have no debt including my house or vehicles or credit cards or any debt period. I can't help but think she feels like she is living next to someone less than her. I thought of this forum and the "Millionaire Next Door" and had a chuckle at her expense. :)
This post does remind me of when my wife and I moved in to our current house and started doing some manual yard work moving around many yards of dirt and mulch. We are young for the area and all the neighbors kept asking if we were the new owners or gardeners.

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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by dratkinson » Tue Sep 24, 2019 6:45 pm

My neighbor and I had several large trashy trees removed from our back yards and the stumps ground. A tractor would not have gotten through our narrow gates. Instead, a much smaller and more maneuverable walk-behind stump grinder was used. The chips were left and were not a problem as we scattered them around as mulch.

(1) If stump grinding is to be a side hustle, believe you need a more flexible solution as I don't believe a tractor-mounted stump grinder would work in all cases.

(2) The tree trimming service offered stump grinding as an option, so believe you will have much competition.

(3) The tree trimming service will always be ahead of you since they are already on site to remove trees.

(4) The tree trimming service can do the whole job in one day. The customers would have to work around your day job, meaning their whole job would be delayed to use your service.


Bottom line. Don't see how stand-alone stump grinding could be a profitable side hustle since tree trimming services will always be ahead of you, and can do the job faster.
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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Tue Sep 24, 2019 6:50 pm

Doom&Gloom wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 3:16 pm
MathWizard wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 3:01 pm
How much would you charge for stump grinding?

How long would it take to make back your investment, and is this worth your time.

Here, tree services grind the stump and haul away the debris. If they do not in your area, people must not want to pay for it.
Maybe there is a huge backlog though.
This seems key.

The last time I needed an independent stump grinder (my regular tree guy now grinds stumps also), I was charged $50/stump in a LCOL area with no sawdust being hauled away. That was about 15 years ago, so I have no idea what the current market is. I recalled thinking at the time that it seemed a pretty easy buck for the guy, but he already had the equipment (probably paid for) and didn't do any cleanup.

If all the tree cutting guys in your area also have stump grinding equipment, I would guess the available stump grinding market would be pretty small.
Small stumps go for like $150-$200, no sawdust removal. Large diameter stumps with sawdust removal go for $350. You’ll be doing a lot of work, it gets physical with sawdust removal.
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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by andypanda » Tue Sep 24, 2019 9:11 pm

I had the tree service out today to give me a price on removing 7 small dead trees (dogwood, spruce, two dwarf apple, larger holly,etc.) and the stumps. They'll also be dropping a big 45-degree leaner in the woods and leaving it. It's hung up on another tree's branches. Just like last time, they'll remove the trees in the yard, but leave the stump chips for me to scatter in the woods. It's a lot of work when it's 90 or 95 outside. They aren't heavy, there's just lots of them. They're doing my work for $1200 fwiw, but didn't break it down for me.

I also had them price a stump removal for the farmer next door. It's a 22"-24" maple and only sticking up 4" or so. The price is $150 and they leave the chips. The neighbor didn't hesitate and said have them do it and he'll get me the cash before they come. I think the going rate around Richmond is more like $2/inch if they do the cleanup and backfill. He and his son will clean it up - they took the tree down and hauled it off after the storm damaged it.

I have a couple of chainsaws and would go rent a stump grinder, but I'm 69 and would rather go fishing. :sharebeer I really want to climb 30 or 40 feet up a tree and cut 4 or 5 limbs and drop the leaner, but that's just me thinking it's 1970 and I'm 20 again.

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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by lomarica01 » Wed Sep 25, 2019 11:27 am

you might be competing against do it yourselfers. I needed to get 3 stumps grinded out, rented the equipment for a day got the work all done no problem and it was cheap.

Also is you do this work consider the risk of injury, is it worth it

good luck

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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by KandT » Wed Sep 25, 2019 6:10 pm

Thanks to all that contributed your thoughts. It seems in my area getting people to actually work is tough.

I also live in a nice town surrounded by LCOL areas. I got to know a paver and he told me they increase their prices (as do most workers) in my area because they know they can get away with it. 20 miles away the same job costs much less.

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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by Sandtrap » Wed Sep 25, 2019 6:17 pm

KandT wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 6:10 pm
Thanks to all that contributed your thoughts. It seems in my area getting people to actually work is tough.

I also live in a nice town surrounded by LCOL areas. I got to know a paver and he told me they increase their prices (as do most workers) in my area because they know they can get away with it. 20 miles away the same job costs much less.
How many stump removal jobs are likely available annually in this town area?
Once trees are cut and stumps removed, how many more per year will need to be removed?
How many stump removal companies are there in town? Are they busy year round?
Would you be willing to travel farther out than 20 miles or much much more to pursue the stump removal jobs?
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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by dekecarver » Thu Sep 26, 2019 4:28 pm

In NOVA, stump grinding for mature tree runs an extra $300-350.

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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by abuss368 » Thu Sep 26, 2019 4:30 pm

I would also consider dynamite! Believe it or not I had family who lives way out and wanted to blow it up!

Got to find the humor.
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Re: Stump Grinder - Ridiculous Side Hustle??

Post by deikel » Thu Sep 26, 2019 6:02 pm

FWIW

I had two trees removed this summer and they charged 100 USD each (close to the house, medium size, so I would not do it myself, they are insured, I am not)

However, tree grinding was another 100 USD/stump and I declined. Instead I spent 4 h on one tree stump to cut it out myself with the chainsaw. I went through six chains, got a great workout for my back and gained about 10-12 large pieces of firewood.

Also cost me a chain saw sharpener to get back to working chains and stump Nr 2 is still teasing me daily until I have the desire to work out again....hopefully soon...its getting cold up here...

This is a medium cost of living area, just for a price check. If someone would have offered stump grinding for 50 bucks I would take them up on it
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