Tree Stump Options (to grind or not to grind?)

What can be done with your stump once the tree is cut down? There are a few different options.
The first and cheapest option would be to cut as close to the ground as possible with a chainsaw. It would still be sticking a little bit above the ground, causing a slight tripping hazard.
The next option would be to grind it out. This requires a stump grinder with carbide cutting teeth to cut through the stump, dirt and rocks that we encounter. We recommend where environmental conditions allow, to grind at least 3-4 inches below grade. Once the stump is ground, we rake the area out level and drive the machine over the freshly ground area if accessible to compact grindings down to reduce further setting. The excessive grindings will either be removed from the job site and disposed of or used as mulch on site. This highly sought-after root mulch is great for your garden beds. Please see a future blog on the benefits of mulching.
If the stump is located amongst other trees, we will only do a shallow grind about an inch below grade, as we don’t want to damage the roots of surrounding trees.
A couple important things a contractor should do before stump grinding can safely begin:
  1. Have the underground utilities marked out so there is no conflict
  2. Clear the area of any people, animals or breakable objects
  3. The contractor should set up a containment barrier around the area to be ground to stop objects (wood chips, rocks, and dirt) from being thrown by the grinder.
The last option is what we here at Arbor Ace Tree Service Llc call a memory stump. This is where we cut the stump to about three feet in height and cut a hole into the top of it, creating a natural planter. This planter will last for years to come. It is a way to celebrate a favorite tree that had to be removed, typically due to structural defects.
Please call us to come out for a site visit so we can discuss the different options and help you choose what is best for you, the landscape, and your budget.

Can a Tree Estimate be Done over the Phone without a Site Visit

Unfortunately no, it would not be fair for me or you to give you a price to remove a tree without having seen it in person. Either I will be charging too little or too much based on information given over the phone. During a phone conversation, what may be a big tree to you may be a small tree to me or vice versa. I may have in depth questions about clearances and need precise measurements.
This is why we provide free estimates and site visits. Our estimators are arborists who are trained to notice all the minute details of the job site. If we happen to overlook something, which we won’t, it will be on us to figure out a solution. It is a time to set timeframes as well as job expectations. We like to go over the entire job at length, so if you choose to hire us we can show up and have the job go as quickly, safely and efficiently as possible which in turn allows us to give our best price.

Our goal is to always have Happy Customers and to achieve that goal the job must be fair for both the client as well as the tree removal company and it all starts with a site visit.

Cost Differences between Tree Companies

I will begin by saying there are no set prices for tree removal or pruning. The major factor in cost differences is that no two companies operate exactly the same and operating costs vary widely across the board based on the companies operating expenses.

Let’s get into what sets the price.

Who is actually doing the work on your property? Are some crew members performing the work Certified Arborists as well as Licensed Tree Experts; highly trained, educated, licensed industry professionals that wear PPE (personal protective equipment) and have Bluetooth communication devices like the employees at Arbor Ace?

Or are they new hires and is this their first day on the job or are they somewhere in between. Once a tree is removed or pruned, if not done properly, the damage can be irreversible. In the long run, it is cheaper to hire professionals to do the job right the first time rather than wasting time and money by having to have it done twice.

Does the company have general liability insurance as well as workman’s compensation insurance in case someone gets hurt on your site? Fully insured companies typically charge more than uninsured or underinsured companies do because the insurance for tree care operations is quite expensive. We at Arbor Ace are fully insured for your protection, as well as our own and our employees.

Care of the job site. What condition will your property be left in after the tree is removed? Ask the Arborist that comes out for the estimate if they rake up the entire job site as well as the surrounding properties. What about any sawdust that may have blown on the roof or gutters, will it be cleaned off? If the tree stump is being ground, will excess stump grindings be removed and will the area be raked level? Typically, a five-star tree service company needs to charge more since they are spending more time on a proper cleanup as well as removing all the debris, therefore incurring higher dump fees as well as increased labor costs. Always ask what is and what is not included. We at Arbor Ace always strive to leave your property in a better condition than we found it in.

What type of equipment is being utilized? This is a factor in pricing, but a company with extensive equipment including high tech cranes with grapple-saws, and bucket trucks such as ourselves doesn’t necessarily charge more; they will just get the job done faster as the machines make the job much more efficient. In my opinion, there is a direct correlation between efficiency and safety.

What does all of this mean to you, the customer? It means educate yourself a little on tree care, do your research on the companies you’re interviewing and ask the right questions. Check out the company’s website as well as their online reviews.
Remember, the cheapest price usually doesn’t always turn out to be the cheapest in the long run. Look for the contractor that will provide the best overall value.

The best piece of advice I can give you when choosing a contractor is to go with who you feel in your heart is going to do the best job for you. Hire a company that you trust, so in the event that something does go wrong, they have the resources and the inclination make it right immediately. Choose a company that takes responsibility for their actions and does right by their clients as well as the trees. Select a company that has been in business a while with a permanent place of business, and not just a P.O. box.

In the end, there are no set prices, but you do get what you pay for. When comparing quotes, it is difficult to compare apples to apples, so ask a lot of questions and see who gives you the best answer; not just what you may want to hear, but a true reason with the science behind it. Call us for a free honest evaluation of your trees and see the value we provide. We call it the Arbor Ace Difference. We will tell you exactly how much it costs to remove the tree in question, as well as why it costs what it costs for removing that individual tree in that individual location. There are some things you can’t put a price on and number one is peace of mind knowing the job will be done right the first time by people that care about trees.

Arbor Aces Switches to Vegetable Based Bar and Chain Oil

Arbor Ace switched to a vegetable-based bar and chain oil. Why does this matter and how does this impact you, the customer?

Well first, let’s take a look at what Bar and Chain oil does.
As a chainsaw is cutting, a pump inside the saw is constantly applying oil to the chain to assist in cutting. At high chain speed while cutting, oil is thrown off the chain into the surrounding environment. ie; lawn and garden areas. Also, the oil from cutting will end up on the wood that is trucked to the recycling center and it will end up in the mulch back in the garden beds we are trying to protect. Petroleum based oils are more harmful to the environment than the vegetable-based alternative which we use.

The switch to this eco friendly oil is costlier to us, but we feel it is well worth it for the health and safety of our clients, our employees, and the environment. We strive to always do the right thing.

Arbor Ace attends the TCI Expo 2017

Recently, the Arbor Ace crew packed up into the Dodge Ram Megacab and headed from Clifton, New Jersey to Columbus, Ohio for the “World’s Largest Tree Care Show and Conference,” the Tree Care Industry Association’s TCI Expo, November 2 – 4, 2017.  After the 8.5-hour drive, Mike Zelenka, Margaret Zelenka, Mike Tomesko and Joe Tudda (a.k.a. Big Mike) arrived for 2 days of engagement, education and equipment gazing.  The group took classes that ranged from arboriculture and safety practices to business development and workforce diversity.

What this means for you as our customer?  Arbor Ace’s mission is to become a leader in the tree care industry and to have all of our employees love the work they do.  The conference provided just that.  The Arbor Ace team has come back with excitement and the need to put into practice what they’ve learned, both in the office and in the field.

Joe Tudda is the newest to the Arbor Ace team.  As the lead Arborist Technician, Joe attended the courses “Aerial Rescue and Emergency Response: What Every Tree Worker Should Know,” “Arborist as the First Responder,” “Seeing Your Trailer Pass You By” (a course about trailer safety practices) and “Chain Saw Safety.”  If Joe wasn’t an arborist, he’d be an EMT, so these courses were perfect for him.  On the jobsite he’s always making sure that he and the crew practice safety first.  His goal is to become CTSP (Certified Treecare Safety Professional) certified.

Mike Tomesko is our foreman extraordinaire.  We’ve had customers exclaim, “Where did you find this guy? He’s amazing!”  Even with all his excellence, Tomesko could still be taught a thing or two, so he attended “Aerial Rescue and Emergency Response: What Every Tree Worker Should Know,” “Using the Revised ANSI A300 Pruning Standards,” “Organizing Your Operations for Maximum Efficiency,” and “Unique Consulting Projects to Build Your Business.”  Mike left the conference with ideas that translate into an enhanced experience for our customer and a recharge for the love of tree care work.

Margaret Zelenka has been cooped up in the office, so she jumped at the chance for a road trip with the tree crew. Her first session was “Workforce Development Forum” and the second was “Women in Tree Care Forum.”  As she is always on the hunt for highly qualified workers, these first two forums gave her great ideas as to how to grow the business through hiring the right employees.  She also attended lectures on arboriculture like, “What Do Trees Think of Pruning?” and “Top 10 Tree Pests and How to Manage Them” and on the business end she attended “Organizing Your Operations for Maximum Efficiency” and “Handling Problem Employees” (of which, there are none at Arbor Ace).  Margaret’s goal is to become an ISA Certified Arborist and to start doing more estimates for the tree business.

Owner, Mike Zelenka, sponsored the trip and provided the road trip entertainment by way of eclectic playlists from is iPhone.  Once at the conference, Mike and his crew hit the Expo floor looking for the newest innovations in tree climbing equipment, tools and, newest to the wish list, aerial lifts!  Mike attended some lectures on business like, “Harness the Power of the Internet,” “Organizing Your Operations for Maximum Efficiency” and “Unique Consulting Projects to Build Your Business” because he is always committed to providing the best service and experience to his customers.  He also attended “Oak Wilt Management” to attain the knowledge for if and when the oak wilt fungus hits New Jersey.

All in all, the Arbor Ace team was rejuvenated by this conference and will transfer that enthusiasm to their day to day work.  Arbor Ace Tree Service LLC reminds its employees and its customers of its vision statement:

To be leaders in the green industry, not in size, but in the highest quality workmanship.  We aspire to provide the best possible service experience to our clients, all while promoting a culture of safety.”

So the next time you call for tree work, know that Arbor Ace continues to strive for lasting educational and professional growth for our company and that is passed on to our customers through an outstanding customer experience from the moment we greet you to do the estimate to the final clean-up of the property.  Call Arbor Ace at (973) 903-1641 for a free estimate on any and all of your tree work needs.

IPM – Integrated Pest Management

Our program is aimed at looking at the environmental factors and creating an inhospitable environment for pests, which in turn limits pesticide use and does not kill the beneficial insects. A niche ecosystem is also created in your backyard and symbiotic relationships will allow your plants and trees to thrive.


The goals of an IPM program are:


  • Growing healthy plants, as they are much more resistant to insect and disease than a stressed plant.
  • Making sure the habitat is one the plant can do well in, which means selecting the right plant for the right spot. We check soil pH levels, sun/shade requirements, and moisture level of site. We adjust the cultural factors for previously existing plants where applicable.
  • Irrigation will be adjusted accordingly to water at optimal times of the day, along with the proper amount.   Overwatering is just as bad as underwatering. Also, watering at the wrong time of day can bring on disease.
  • Monitoring of the plant material on the property will be done and pesticides will still be used if monitoring shows they are needed.