When to Replant a Tree After Having a Stump Removed

“We just had a tree removed and the stump ground out. I would like to replace it with another tree ASAP, but my wife would like to wait until next year to replant. Can you help us decide?” -Paul

There are two things to consider when deciding whether to replant a tree after grinding out a stump.

First, the root system of the old tree spreads beyond the grinding hole, and even if you opt for the extra-deep stump grinding service designed for “replanting,” there will be large roots that may take years to decompose. Those roots can interfere with the root system of your new tree, possibly affecting its growth and health.

Second, the ecology of that piece of ground is going to keep changing for a few years, as microorganisms go to work breaking down the old tree roots. A new tree will have to compete with these microorganisms for nutrients and resources within the soil, which will make it more difficult for your new tree to thrive.

The best approach if you would like to plant a tree immediately is to choose a new spot at least five feet from the old site. This will improve your tree’s chances of thriving. If you do decide to replant in the same spot, waiting one year may not be long enough to break down those old roots completely, so wait as long as you can and then offer extra TLC to the new tree until it established.



  1. I didn’t know that there was a problem with the old roots that are on the ground. I didn’t think it would interfere with the new roots of the tree. I will have to make sure that we don’t have this issue with the new tree. What do you suggest doing if you want to replant a tree in that spot.

  2. I had an old Mayday tree cut down in Sept 2015 . Stump was ground out to 2 feet down and roots chopped out. A 2-1/2 ft deep and 3 foot wide hole was dug about 1 foot away from the stump. A 12″ spring snow crabapple was planted. Now I am finding out that was too close to the old tree stump! It was planted by a nursery too and they said it should be ok?? What care can I give this new lovely tree now especially with nutrient.


  3. Julie, I thought this was really informative. My husband and I have had a few questions about this. Does this still apply if you had the whole stump removed instead of grinding it?

  4. My son took down a maple tree in February (2017) that was dying from the roots choking it (previous owners did not tease roots out). However, I just had the stump ground this week. The hole went down at least three maybe four feet and at least three feet in diameter; and all large roots that I can locate are below that. There is a great deal of decayed matter as I used leaves from the maple and three large Natches myrtles as mulch for years. Is the area safe to replant? I have a one gallon coral bark maple to replace it, but need to replant the azaleas, liriope, and hostas that were removed prior to grinding. Currently they are getting a mist, waiting in my garage. Thank you for your reply.

  5. About four years ago we had a tree removed in the backyard of my mom’s house. I recently bought the house and would like to prep the area for sod. One old root is still visible that will need to be removed. I would appreciate where to start. I’m thinking I need to till the ground; compact it down and install a new sprinkler system.


    • Hi, Tommy,
      Danny says, “It’s time to break out the shovel, the ax, and a good pair of gloves. Dig around the root, where it goes into the ground, and chop it as low as you can below the surface. Do this on all of the roots possible. And you should be ready to move forward with the tilling. The roots will continue to rot or decompose and should not present any problem for the grass you’re planning on planting.
      Good luck!”

  6. My old tree has gotten old and rotted about the branches, and I’m worried about it falling on my house or on my kids if they try to play on or around it, so I’m going to have it removed. However, like Paul, I’d really like to get a new tree there because my kids really like the shade it gives in that area, and I’ve heard that the remains of the old tree can be used as mulch for the new one. However, I think you’re right that the ecology of the old site will be different, and I don’t want the new tree to have to compete for nutrients in the soil, so if we do replace it immediately then we’ll do it at least five feet away, as you suggest.


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