Magnolia – Removing Roots to Plant Grass

Q: A landscaper advised me to remove the large magnolia in my front yard and plant grass in its place. We have wedding coming up in late June and I would like for the yard to be nice and green by then. My problem is with the root mass. We’ll have the stump ground and some top soil spread. Do I need to grind the roots 5 or 6 inches deep? What effect will the grindings have on new grass growth?

A: Someone is going to have a FINE time with a mattock, chopping up those roots BEFORE the tree is cut down. My prediction is that the stump grinder will not be able to destroy all of the roots. Roots that are left will sprout new magnolias in the yard.

If you can manage it, I’d remove as many roots as possible, THEN have the tree removed, THEN have the stump ground, THEN rake out as many stump chips as possible. The resulting mound of chips and soil can be raked smooth and will probably be a little higher than the surrounding lawn. It will settle eventually. Add 2 pints of 10-10-10 per 100 square feet to the soil as you’re raking it smooth. This will satisfy the needs of the soil bacteria as they break down the chips AND give nutrients to the fescue you plant.

Do it soon, so the fescue has plenty of time to grow thickly before the wedding.

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