10 Tree Root Removal Tools And Cutting Machines

In this article, I’ll be discussing tree root removal machines and handheld cutting tools.

Tree root removal is a major practice in our society; farming and construction inclusive, and in any activity to be carried out on land.

Clearing off forests also means cutting off the trees and removing their roots just to achieve this purpose.

As we all know, bush clearing or deforestation can be done using different tree removal methods;

  • burning trees, or the use of heavy machines to cut such tree species.

These are methods applied for tree cutting not root removal. Tree roots grow deeper into and wider within the soil. As a tree grows, the roots become bigger.

READ: Types of Root Killers

After cutting a tree, there is the need to remove the roots, so as not to cause any regrowth of leaves on the surface.

If a tree root is not removed, it may cause problems that hinder the use of land for agriculture or construction.

Machine And Tools For Cutting Tree Roots

When we cut trees down, the only way to guarantee complete removal is by disposing of the roots. The root is the source or the foundation – the living trust – of a tree. Removal of tree roots is the best way to complete the removal of any tree.

To complete the process requires special skills. These will be discussed below.

The removal of roots can be achieved using many tools. While some machines are popular, others remain largely untapped.

If you’ve ever felled your tree and you thought that was the end, only for you to find the roots encroaching into unwanted areas or that another tree has started growing from it, then welcome to the club!

Felling a tree doesn’t mean you’ve killed the tree, as long as its roots are still intact then the job is only half done. One of the fastest ways to remove tree roots is with machines.

Keep reading!

What Are Tree Root Removal Machines?

Generally, a tree root removal machine is a heavy-duty tool that has a powerful engine, as well as a cutting, digging, or pulling mechanism, which is used to remove tree roots.

There are many types of tree root removal machines. They include tractors, backhoes, and stump grinders. Some of these machines can handle large-scale root removal, while others are meant for domestic purposes.

Let us take a look at some of these machines.

  • The Use of A Hand Tool

There are two types of hand tools.

  • Light hand tool

These tools include machetes, mattocks, and diggers; and using any of them takes a very long period before the root is completely removed from the soil.

  • Heavy hand tool

This includes a chainsaw, crosscut saws, and stump grinders.

These are powerful machines (mostly heavy) that can be used by hand. They are used by experts in falling trees and can also be used to cut off the roof from the ground.

Operating these pieces of equipment seems simple but surely requires expertise.

A disadvantage of using hand tools is that they require a lot of energy. Also, you’ll need lots of people to make the work easier and faster

  • The Use of Heavy Machine

The use of heavy machines is the fastest way to remove tree roots.

This method is time-effective but costs more than the options discussed above. The driver drives the heavy machine [commonly a bulldozer] into the tree’s root and removes the root within minutes. This process is very easy and smooth.

The use of heavy machines may be time-effective, but there are some considerations attached.

For instance, heavy machinery can cause permanent damage to farms leading to soil compaction and poorer yields from farmlands. This is one issue you want to weigh in before settling for this particular root removal strategy.

Tools You Will Need To Cut Tree Roots

You’ll need a few tools to successfully cut tree roots. They are listed out below.


The word “Tractor” is associated with words such as “traction” or “tractive”. It is derived from the Latin word “tractus”, which means pulling.

A tractor is a heavy-duty machine designed to pull things along, including trees and their roots. They move slowly, but they’ll pull pretty much any object they are fastened to.

They are built with very large and powerful motors, similar to bulldozers, cranes, and other large machines.

A tractor’s pulling power is made possible by its gearbox. It converts the high-speed revolution of its powerful diesel motor into a much slower revolution in the wheels. This increases the pulling force of the machine.

The design of a tractor sacrifices speed for pulling power. It is rare to see a tractor moving at a high speed. If you do, then be sure it isn’t dragging any heavy object along.

Tractors are a modernized replacement for working animals like donkeys and horses, which were used in the past for large scale farm work.

Henry Ford, who is one of the pioneers of new-age tractors, claims he was determined to develop a machine much better and more effective than a horse for such tedious farm work.

Horses could only pull things along, but a tractor with the right attachment can drag a tree stump and its roots right off the soil. It will leave a gaping hole in the ground, but it is a very effective method of tree root removal.

The first set of tractors was powered by coal engines, however, modern-day tractors are fueled by diesel and they are a lot more powerful.

Parts of a Tractor

New-age tractors are much more complex than the old traction engines and they have more functionality, thanks to their many useful features.

Below are the major parts of a tractor used for pulling.

  • Drawbar

One of the key jobs of a tractor is to haul heavy loads, and the drawbar is the component responsible for that. The drawbar aids in the pulling of farm machines such as hay bales, plows, manure spreaders, and trailers.

The drawbar creates a sturdy, flexible link between the tractor and the machine it is attached to. The good thing about the drawbar is that it can pivot, and this makes it possible for the tractor to maneuver around spaces.

  • Hydraulic hitch

Horses can only drag things behind them, and this could be a problem since implements usually have to be transported from one side to the other, most times by driving them down to the desired location via public roads.

This is not a problem for modern tractors, as they move around with a hydraulically powered pulling and lifting mechanism at the back. This mechanism is called a hitch.

A hitch makes allows a tractor to lower and raise a plow during fieldwork. It can also lower and raise other tree root removal implements off the ground at the push of a button while maintaining the pull of the tractor even when the ground conditions change. This makes it an ideal tree root removal machine.

It works by transferring all the weight of the implement to the back wheel of the tractor, which gives it a better grip on the ground.

The design of the hitch ensures that the tractor is safe and remains stable. It also stops it from flipping backward in an event where the implement it is pulling gets stuck in the ground.

A big advantage of the hitch is that it promotes versatility, as it allows the tractor to work with a wide range of implements. Hitches are universal among tractors, so basically any implement can be used on any tractor model.


This is one of the most versatile machines for fieldwork. It looks like a giant metal spider and it is one of the most powerful machines that can be found on a worksite. This is why it is a preferred choice for those who want to remove tree roots quickly and efficiently.

A backhoe has many functions, some of which I will list out below.

Digging a Trench: A backhoe is designed with a bucket on one end which is ideal for digging. All you need to do is to pierce the teeth into the soil and dig up as much dirt as you want.

Uproot a Tree: Because of the sheer power of a backhoe, it is an ideal machine for pulling up tree roots.

You can either pierce teeth of the backhoe into the soil beneath the tree stump and rip it off or use the teeth to clamp the stump and yank it right off.

Grade a road: The opposite end of the backhoe’s bucket has a plow on it. You can grade a road simply by pushing the plow along an even plane on the road.

Push Dirt: I doubt if you’d find a worksite that didn’t have any dirt that needed to be cleared after work. After all the digging, you’d be left with a mountain of dirt to clear up, and the plow on the backhoe is perfect for this.

Plow Snow: Same way a backhoe can grade and clear a road, it can also be used to plow snow.

Backhoes are also good for plowing snow. Just take that plow and clear the roads.

Stump Grinder

A stump grinder doesn’t only remove tree stumps, they can also be used to grind the roots as well.

Before you grind the stump, get a shovel and dig around the base. Doing this will expose as much of the roots as possible.

After you have ground the stump, place the stump grinder over the exposed roots and begin grinding. They will be gone in a matter of minutes.

Shovel & Saws

Not the tools you’d consider to be the fastest when compared to the more mechanized machines, but people have been using these tools to remove tree roots long before tractors and stump grinders were invented.

Using these tools for tree root removal will require a lot more physical effort from a person, but hey, the job will be done at the end.

To start, the tree has to be felled first, you use an ax or a chainsaw to cut the tree down to a stump. When this is done, grab the shovel and dig around the base of the stump as much as you can, thereby exposing the roots.

Trace the roots and see how far they have spread and dig up those areas as well. When the roots have been fully exposed, take the chainsaw and cut up the roots into small, manageable pieces.

Gather them up and dispose of them as you see fit. You can grind them up to use as mulch, or sell them to nurseries who may need it.


This is one of the most popular garden tools you will find. Its function is to dig up soil to free up the roots you want to cut.

Shovels come in different shapes and sizes. So the size of the shovel you will need will be dependent on the size of the roots you want to dig up. Also, the soil type and conditions will play a role in determining the shovel type you will need.

Garden Shears

When the roots have been exposed using the shovel, you will need a pair of sharp garden shears to do the rest.

Shears are similar to a pair of scissors, only that they are much larger. You can use them to cut up smaller roots. They are not suitable for cutting large roots (roots that are wider than an inch in diameter).

Once again, DO NOT cut roots that are too close to the tree!

A baby tree can survive being sheared, but only if the cutting point isn’t too close to the tree.


A backhoe has many features that aid in ripping off roots. They can also be used to pull out the stump too if that’s what you want. You can use the digging bucket to pull out large tree stumps and roots.

With the front loader bucket of the backhoe, you can as well remove smaller sized stumps and roots.

Root Grinder

If your mission is to pull out the tree as a whole, then you can use a stump grinder for the work.

A grinder works very fast and effectively. It grinds the roots into tiny pieces, which can be used as mulch on other parts of your garden. Mulch can prevent weeds from growing around the area where the root and stump have been removed.

A grinder is ideal of the roots you’re removing are large.


Saws can be used to cut off large sized roots. You can use a manual saw or a chainsaw for this. Although I prefer the chainsaw, as it is faster and would require less human energy.

Be careful when handling a chainsaw, since you’re cutting low to the ground. The blades are super sharp and can cause severe injuries.


An ax can do the work of a chainsaw. Once you’ve dug up the spaces and exposed the roots, you can chop away with the ax.

This will take longer than a chainsaw but might come in handy when cutting roots that are in tight positions.

These are the best tree root removal equipment and cutting tools.

Advantages of using shovel and chainsaw for tree root removal

Using a shovel and a chainsaw have some advantages. I’ll list them out below.

They cost less: With these tools, you don’t need a big budget to remove tree roots. They are affordable tools compared to a stump grinder or a tractor.

They are easy to store: These are small-sized tools so you can easily put them away when you’re not using them. This is unlike a tractor or a stump grinder that takes up a lot of space.

Easy to use: Almost anyone of age can handle tools like shovels and chainsaws. They require minimum expertise, but the same cannot be said for a backhoe or a tractor. Using such high-powered machines requires some training.

Disadvantages of using shovel & chainsaw for tree root removal

There are a few downsides to using a shovel and chainsaw for tree root removal.

These include –

Time-consuming: You will spend more time with these tools for tree root removal since the process is semi-manual

It requires physical energy: Digging with a shovel is quite a tedious task. Using this method for tree root removal can cause fatigue.


I trust this article on tree root removal machines has been informative and helpful.

Take care!

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