We asked experts from several leading equipment manufacturers: “What’s the one thing tree care professionals need to consider when purchasing a stump grinder or brush cutter?”

Here’s what they had to say:

Brush Cutters

Kent Hall
Product Manager/Stihl
Tree service companies need to look at the amount of service that will be provided to them during the purchase by the retailer, along with the service afterwards — parts availability, technical assistance and the like. When choosing a brush cutter, you want to look at what’s referred to as power-to-weight [ratio]. A lot of times you want good power, but you must consider how much the unit weighs, as you’ll likely be using it for quite a while. What helps in offsetting the weight on these units is what type of harness that’s available with it. You’ll also want to determine if you want a loop-handle unit or a bicycle-style unit. Stihl uses what we call a cutting system — we manufacture the engines, shafts, etc., along with the various cutting attachments that pair with the engines, ensuring the units work in complete harmony.

Bill Schafer
Product Development Supervisor/Loftness
Consider the desired result. Do your customers want a finely mulched, finished product, or are they satisfied with a quick, rough-cut process? If the finished product isn’t a concern, then something as simple as a rotary cutter can get the job done. But if you’re interested in a finer mulch and an overall cleaner finished area, picking a rotary drum mulcher with sheer bars is a must. And to really get a fine-tuned production rate, having an adjustable sheer bar that allows you to increase or decrease the particle size is a huge advantage. This allows users to customize their brush clearing depending on the job at hand and the desired result.

Sean O’Halloran
Marketing Manager/Toro
Walk-behind brush cutters typically face high demands in the field, making quality craftsmanship and durable components extremely important for these kinds of products. Knowing durability in this equipment class is incredibly important to contractors, we engineered the all-new Toro BRC-28 hydro-drive brush cutter with heavy-duty components and a rugged frame. The BRC-28 features a high-strength steel deck, a 1.375-inch spindle shaft and large diameter pulleys, all of which optimize the longevity of the machine even in challenging conditions. Tree care professionals will also want to search for a brush cutter unit that features a pivoting deck. This feature not only increases overall maneuverability of the unit, but also helps the brush cutter follow the unique undulations of the terrain.

Stump Grinders

Matt Hutchinson
Product Manager for Tree Care, Rental and Landscape/Vermeer
When purchasing a stump grinder, tree care professionals should consider its maintenance requirements. The cutter wheel must be properly maintained to keep the machine operating efficiently. Operators should clean and check the cutter wheel daily. If the stump grinder begins to vibrate during operation, productivity decreases or the shape of the wood shavings changes, it may indicate that the teeth are worn or broken. Select a machine that allows operators to remove and replace the cutting teeth easily. For example, the Vermeer Yellow Jacket cutting system features universal and reversible carbide-tipped teeth with two cutting edges on each tooth. The operator simply loosens one nut and rotates the tooth for an almost-new cutting service.

Chris Osgood
National Sales Manager/Dosko
The most important thing for tree care professionals to consider is, ‘Does the stump grinder satisfy the requirements of the job?’ The first item to consider is the machine’s width — if you’ll need to access areas located through narrow gates or paths, machine width should be 32 inches or less. To make maneuvering even easier, try a self-propelled stump grinder. Walk-behind units will do less turf damage than larger stump grinders. Other factors to consider are whether it has a side discharge frame that will move cuttings out and away from the work area, whether a handlebar is adjustable for optimum operator comfort/control and the horsepower and reliability of the engine. Dosko is proud to manufacture equipment that delivers all this and more.

Sean O’Halloran
Marketing Manager/Toro
Among the most important factors for tree care professionals is to make sure the stump grinder offers features that apply to their specific applications, as those features can ultimately increase productivity on the job site. Toro’s STX line of tracked stump grinders offer several options that boost the overall productivity of tree care professionals. For instance, the Intelli-Sweep feature automatically adjusts sweep speed based on grinding load, which minimizes stoppage and ensures a smooth grind with every pass. There are many different stump grinder models available on the market today and now more than ever, tree care professionals can choose from a myriad of options that will help them increase their productivity.

Craig Rohde
Marketing Manager/Schiller Grounds Care
Tree care professionals need to consider how easily the stump grinder chosen can get where a stump is located without disturbing other trees, plants or shrubs. The Steiner tractor and stump cutter attachment maneuvers easily into tight spaces with the articulating tractor and will do minimal damage to the surrounding area while removing your stump. In addition, the Steiner tractor can quickly and easily switch out the stump cutter attachment to any of our 25 other attachments that will help with your tree care needs.

J.R. Bowling
VP of Sales and Marketing/Rayco
If I was going to purchase a stump grinder, I’d take time to consider what kind of jobs I was going to ask that machine to do and then select a model that’s appropriate for the task. In other words, I’d ask myself if I was buying the stump cutter to remove primarily small stumps from ornamental trees, or do I see myself removing large stumps from mature tree takedowns and storm damage? Selecting the machine that’s right for the job you intend to do usually ends up being a better experience than selecting a machine based on price, or some other criteria. Not only will you prevent feelings of buyer’s remorse, but you’ll also make your business more productive.

Mike Slattery
Chief Product Officer/Fecon
Consider total return on investment when purchasing a stump grinder — purchase price amortized over product life is important. Also, factor estimated cost and quantity of wear parts due to the abrasive, sometimes rocky grinding environment. Stump grinders like Fecon’s Stumpex use a slow-turn, high torque bit with no carbide tools to wear or break. Keep revenue potential in mind as well; evaluate what work can or can’t be done. The slow rpm of Fecon’s Stumpex provides a much smaller work zone due to minimal flying debris.

Walt Rose
National Sales Manager for Commercial Lawn, Garden and Tree Care/Husqvarna
Before making a purchase, consider how you’re going to use the equipment. The caliber of equipment you’ll need should be based on what kind of material you’ll be cutting or grinding, as well as what kind of area you’ll be working in. Also, keep a close eye on safety features to ensure you can use the equipment without risking personal injury. If you typically work on stumps in tight areas with limited access, such as cemeteries or backyards, then a smaller portable stump grinder will work well. But if the stumps are large and made of hard wood, then a larger machine will be required to get the job done.