Ask Burton: This week, we’re talking about an issue that affects many of our customers, but particularly those who may have had to remove trees due to the powerful storms of the past year. And it’s an issue that’s affected more than one tree planting we’ve had of late.

When a mature tree must be removed, it leaves behind a massive block of wood in the ground and a stump in the yard. This isn’t an unsolvable problem. The common practice is to grind the stump to below grade, fill a small bit of soil, and sod over such removals. But when the tree provided needed shade to a particular area, and you’d like to plant a new tree to start growing toward that goal once more… now, that’s often a problem.

There are ways to get what you want. The first is to move the planting site of the new tree six to eight feet from the previous tree. At that distance, a mature tree still has some large roots in the soil, but those can be worked around or a single large root or two chopped out without much difficulty.

If the landscaping is such that there’s really only one place where a new tree could be planted – the site of the original tree – more care will have to be taken. A normal stump grinding allows a lawn to be grown where the tree used to be, but to plant a new tree, the original stump needs to be largely removed. When you get a quote from most arborists to remove a stump, that isn’t to remove the large block of wood, often as large as a desk, under the ground. A new tree can not be installed in exactly the same spot until that stump is thoroughly ground out to remove most of the stump.

If Mother Nature has been unkind to you and it’s time for a new tree to replace one lost to the weather, please keep this in mind. Make sure to tell your arborist that you need enough of the existing stump removed that a new tree can be planted in the same location. They’ll likely charge you more for this than a normal stump grinding, so be prepared. If they don’t have the equipment to grind enough of the stump out to replant in the same area, please call us at the nursery, and we’ll be happy to get you in contact with a service that can take care of that for you.