When I tell people that I'm the landscaper who looks after our team's football field they are really impressed, and a little jealous. I don't think they know how much work it is though - it's definitely trickier than keeping your backyard looking green. Not only does my football field need to look lush, it also needs to be perfectly even so that the ball doesn't bounce at crazy angles, and not so soft that the players boots sink in. I need to keep up with all of the latest tricks that landscapers have, and I write these up here so that everyone can give them a try on their own fields.
Many people are blessed to own property that contains a number of mature trees and can therefore take advantage of mother nature's glory. However, these trees are living organisms and some of them will, from time to time, encounter problems. If an arborist has told you that one of your trees has developed a fatal disease, you know that you need to take action and will essentially have to remove it. However, once it's been cut down you will be left with an unsightly stump and have to make another decision. What are you going to do next?
One Way or the Other
Much will depend on your future plans for the space that was once occupied by this large tree. Some people decide that they want to replace what they've lost and plant another tree for future generations to enjoy. Other people, however, may decide that this area should be repurposed for a flower bed and you will need to take a very different approach if you choose either of these options.
Dealing With the Root Ball
Certainly, in both cases you will need to remove much of what is left but if you just plan to put down a new flower bed, you probably don't want to remove the stump altogether. This is because a very large part of the tree will still remain underground and it is known as the "root ball." In some cases, this can be several times larger than the tree itself and as a consequence can be very challenging to remove.
However, if you want to plant a brand-new tree in the space, you need to get rid of as much of the root ball as possible, but understand that in its place is going to be a very large hole. You will almost certainly have to bring in an amount of soil to help fill in the cavity, at the same time as you introduce the new tree.
You don't need to remove the entire root ball in any other circumstance, however but should make sure that you grind it down so that it is out of sight and below the surface. When you do this, the remaining root ball will gradually decay over time, out of sight.
Stump grinding will whittle away the existing stump into tiny pieces that can be repurposed and used as mulch. This is an added bonus and may help you as you cultivate the flower bed that will appear on top of the old tree.
Making a Plan
In either of these cases you should bring in a professional to do the job properly, as this is not something that you should try and complete on your own.