What Size Excavator Do You Need for Stump Removal?

Before you start removing tree stumps, it is important to know what type of excavator you will need for the job. If you go ahead and rent an excavator and it turns out to not be adequate for the job, it will not only be a big monetary loss but can also waste a lot of time. Let’s take a look at the different types of excavators and what size should you go for.

Excavators can be majorly categorized into 5 sizes, namely, mini, medium, large, extra-large, and bucket wheel excavators. For small to medium-sized tree stumps, a mini excavator can get the job done. But if you are dealing with a large tree stump, a medium-sized excavator should be used.

If you prefer to hire a company to get rid of the stumps by grinding, feel free to use our form to get estimates from a local company.

excavator stump removal

What Are the Different Sizes of Excavators?

Before you hire or rent an excavator, let’s take a look at the different sizes of excavators and what their uses are.

Usually, the smallest-sized excavator which you can get in the market are known as mini excavators. They can handle between 1-20 tons of weight and are usually used for work in tight spaces. They are also very popular for DIY uses in people’s backyards, stump removals, or for small-scale landscaping purposes.

Medium-sized excavators can handle between 20-50 tons of weight and are usually used for DIY and Professional construction projects. They are also used for small-scale demolition projects and even tree stump removals. These excavators are also used for pond or small lake digging.

Large excavators can handle between 50-100 tons of weightage and are usually only used for large-scale construction and demolition projects. You will rarely ever need this size of excavators for stump removal.

Extra Large and Bucket Wheel Excavators are large-scale machines that can handle up to 15,000 tons of weightage. These are used for hyper-scale projects only.

What Factors Do You Need to Take into Account Before Renting or Hiring an Excavator?

To decide, what size excavator you will need, first take a look at what your requirements are.

If your stump is located in your backyard and there is not a lot of access area, then you will have a really hard time bringing even a medium-sized excavator to the property. Even if you are dealing with a really large stump, you will have to make it work using the size of machinery which can come into your property. In some cases, it is better to hire a stump grinder to do the job or rent it.

If there is no constraint in terms of access, then you need to take a look at the size of the stump you are dealing with. For small to medium-sized tree stumps, you can easily get the job done using a mini excavator.

Mini excavators have an average reach of at least 6-8 feet which is more than enough for small to medium-size trees.

For large tree stumps, you might need to go up to a medium-sized excavator. To determine the size of the excavator, you also need to take into account the length of reach of the machine.

For large tree stumps, you need an excavator which can go at least 10-12 feet below the ground to completely and easily remove the root ball.

The weight of the stump along with its root ball is also an important factor while determining the excavator size.

The table below gives an estimated weight of the root ball of a tree depending on the average diameter of the tree at breast height.

Average diameter at breast heightRootball sizeWeight lbs

The table below will give you an estimated weight of a 1-foot-long stump of different species depending on their diameter.

Ash, White2638516785104126150177205
Birch, Paper2739537088109132157164214
Birch, Yellow31456180101124151179210244
Cherry, Black253548637998119141166192
Elm, American2942587595118142169199231
Gum, Black253548637998119141166192
Gum, Red2739537088109132157164214
Honey Locust33486585108133161192225252
Magnolia, Ev32466382104129156185217214
Maple, Red2739537088109132157164192
Maple, Silver253548637998119141166239
Maple, Sugar3144607899122148176206282
Oak, California36517092116144174207243324
Oak, Live416081106134166200238280269
Oak, Red34496788111137166198232265
Oak, White34486686109135163194228261
Poplar, Yellow21304053678399119150188
Walnut, Black32456281102126153182213250
Pine, white20283850647895113128145
Spruce, Red19273647607490106125154

Keep this data into account while determining the required weightage of the excavator. Most mini excavators should be able to handle about 3-5000 lbs.

What Size Excavator Do You Need for Removing Tree Stumps?

As I mentioned before, a small or mini-excavator should be more than enough while removing small to medium-sized tree stumps. The usual rule of thumb is that a stump with a root ball size of 50-60” or a stump diameter of 28” can be removed using a mini excavator. This will of course also depend on the weightage of the particular machine you are using.

A medium-sized excavator should only be needed while removing large tree stumps.

Which Is the Preferred Excavator for Removing Tree Stumps?

One of the best excavators for stump removal is the CAT 315 which is preferred by both DIY-ers and professionals. This excavator is technically medium-sized, but because of its compact nature, it can also be treated as a mini excavator.

One of the best things about the CAT 315 is its reliability, effectiveness, and ease of use. This machine also has a reach of 15 feet which is more than enough for even large tree stumps.


In most cases, a small or mini excavator can get the job done even for large trees. They are easy to move around, operate and can access backyards as well. If you are dealing with a gigantic tree, you might need a larger excavator but in such a case you should hire a professional service. The CAT 315 is one of the best choices as it is technically a medium excavator but comes in a smaller.

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