Live tree stump grinding and new plantings

Asked March 25, 2020, 10:32 AM EDT

Due to recent tornado, we lost over 45 live trees in our yard. We now have an abundance of (what were live) tree stump grindings! We also lost many of the azaleas and rhododendron plants that were growing beneath the trees. Will newly planted azaleas and/or rhododendron grow/thrive in these new tree stump grindings? Are there other plants that can/grow/thrive in these new tree stump grindings?

Frederick County Maryland

1 Response

Stump grindings have a lot of the fresh organic grindings (stump and roots) mixed in with soil. As the organic matter decomposes, it uses up nitrogen during the decay process, which makes it unavailable to (or "robs" it from) any new plants, which also need the nitrogen. Consequently, fresh grindings should be allowed to age for many months before you plant into them.

You can mix some nitrogen fertilizer into the grindings when you replant. Eventually, this is good organic soil. Keep in mind that this soil will also settle as the organic component decomposes, so fill it a little above ground level to allow for soil settling.

To get around this problem if you want to replant soon, you can remove the grindings and put topsoil into the hole and then plant.

Any grindings that are removed can be used once they age. They make good organic soil.