Best Mini Excavator For Digging Stumps

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We previously discussed how you can use mini excavators for stump removal either by digging or by grinding it down. This article is a follow up of that to help you find the best mini excavator for digging stumps.

Some think that the best ones would be the biggest ones, while some suggest that the price tag or the brand would determine the best one. However, in our experience we have found that there are a lot of factors to consider when renting or buying a mini excavator, which will in turn reflect whether it’s the best one for you or not.

In our experience, the best mini excavator for digging stumps was the CAT 315 because of its features, reliability, and effectiveness when it comes to excavating and removing stumps. However, it might not suit all of you, so here we’ll review some of the best ones we tested out so that you can make an informed decision.

What Size Excavator Should be Use for Digging Stumps Out?

Different sized excavator diggers
Different sized excavator diggers

It goes without saying that the size of your excavator depends on the size of stump you’re trying to remove. The larger a stump is, the bigger the excavator should be. After all, you will have to dig deeper to free its root ball, right?

At this point, it is important to mention that there are other methods to remove stumps as well, such as grinding. When you’re grinding stumps, it doesn’t matter how old the tree is or how big a stump is, a mini excavator of any size should be able to get the job done. 

Let’s take a look at the considerations you need to make when choosing the right sized excavator for removal of stumps.

1. Know The Work You’ll Have to Put In

Remember, different jobs need an excavator of different size and power. The biggest consideration to make is that your excavator bucket should be able to extend far enough and second, your excavator should be heavy enough so as not to tip because of its bucket’s weight.

Survey the site first to see what size excavator can fit into your backyard or wherever you are trying to work. For the sake of this article, we will assume that buying/renting different attachments is out of the question.

If the site (and its route) is easily accessible and clear of other structures, you can afford to go big. Otherwise smaller excavators are the way to go.

2. Get a Rough Idea of How Much Dirt Needs to Be Replaced

If the dirt you’re trying to remove is compacted, you will have to take out more dirt that if it is loose soil. As a rule of thumb, remember that larger excavators have, by default, a larger bucket. When surveying the site, try to dig a little with a shovel to get a rough idea of how much you need to dig. You basically need to get your bucket under the stump for removal.

3. Know Your Excavators

Let’s take a look at a chart to understand what different sized excavators do best.

Small (Mini)1-20 tons* Working in tight space
* Backyard digging/stump removal/pond digging
* Drilling/backfilling
* Leveling ground for landscaping (small scale)
Medium20-50 tons* Light construction projects (DIY & professional)
* Digging larger ponds and pools
* Trenching
* Handling (raw) material
* Dredging
* Forestr
* Small-scale demolition
* Tree stump removal
Large50-100 tons* Large construction projects (mostly professional)
* Large-scale commercial landscaping
* Home demolition
* Medium-scale leveling
Extra Large<100 tons* Mining and hyper construction projects (professional only)
* Large scale landscaping
* Home and building demolition
* Large-scale leveling
Bucket Wheel Excavators50 to <14,200 tons* City-scale landscaping
* Mountain carving
* Hyper-scale project use only
* Some of the largest land vehicles out there (such as the Bagger 293)
The types of excavators to use for different DIY functions

Of course, going with extra large or bucket wheel excavators (or even large in most instances) is overkill when trying to remove stumps. You may actually end up digging your whole neighborhood out!

Mini Excavator Recommendations for Digging Stumps

Now that we’ve gone over the basics, let’s look at some mini excavators that we found useful when digging stumps.

1. CAT 301.8

Among the numerous next generation mini excavators, Caterpillar presents the 301.8 as a reliable mini excavator for not just DIY enthusiasts, but professionals as well. The 301.8 comes with an air conditioned compartment for the driver to ensure their comfort, while the slightly elevated compartment ensures that the driver has a good view on what they’re working on.

Standing at just 2.2 tons, this mini excavator can go about 8.4 feet under without struggling. This is perfect for average sized tree stumps and some stubborn ones, as well. It has a tip protection rating of ISO 12117:1997, which is much better than many others out there for the same price and rent.

2. Takeuchi TB216H

For those of you looking for a fuel efficient model, the Takeuchi TB216H hybrid mini excavator won’t disappoint. Slightly less powerful than its petrol counterparts, the excavator can fit your backyard easily. If you can get your car in there, this excavator will make its way in as well.

This versatile excavator weighs just 2.1 tons, with an arm left of roughly 4 feet. The maximum dig depth for this excavator stands at 7.8 feet, which is again enough to pull out most root balls.

3. Agrison ME850 

Another very solid mini excavator you can choose to go with includes the Agrison ME850 mini excavator. This is a very light vehicle and suitable for smaller project and stumps, weighing just 1 ton. For smaller and medium sized stumps, you can go with the ME850. For the price range, this excavator offers immense value.

This one-ton unit can dig jut 4 feet, so if you have larger and older stumps in place, we recommend you pass this one out. This is for those who are on a budget or won’t shy away from renting out a grinder.

4. CAT 315

Considered to be one of the best excavators for digging stumps, the CAT 315 is a legend among DIY-ers because of its features, reliability, and effectiveness when it comes to excavating and removing stumps.

It is not a mini excavator, mind you, but a medium excavator. Yet, we are listing it here because of its relatively small profile. The excavator is heavy and powerful, but its footprint is relatively small. The CAT 315 can dig as deep as 15 feet without breaking a sweat and therefore can remove even the most stubborn stumps out there.

Although a medium-sized excavator, we found that its rent costs almost the same as other models and is much quicker to dig stumps out.


BOBCAT has been known to manufacture high-grade industrial equipment for professional workers and DIY-ers alike for quite a long time now. To that end, its E50 mini excavator is a new addition to the family that packs a punch.

Using a V2403 four-cylinder diesel engine, it can push dirt away with about 49hp. This isn’t the strongest engine, but considering the cost and reliability offered by BOBCAT, the investment is well worth it.

It weighs 10.8 tons and can dig as deep as 11 feet; however, you can go deeper as well with an extended arm option the company offers.

These were a few of the best mini excavators for digging stumps, along with a guide to help you understand your needs better. In our next article, we’ll discuss the depth mini excavators can dig in more detail to help you get a better understanding of what you can expect when leveling the ground, digging trenches, or simply pulling out stumps.  

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About Charlie D Paige

Charlie is a massive DIY fan, with dozens of DIY projects under his belt - ranging from tiling to electrics, and concrete pads to walls. Charlie loves tinkering, seeing how things works, the outdoors and playing with power tools... so is it any wonder that he's completed so many DIY jobs over the years?

Charlie loves spreading his hard-won DIY experience with the world via this blog.