Out with the old trees...

At one corner of my property there's 4 or 5 small trees (oaks). One might have a trunk about a foot in diameter, while the others are effectively just well-established saplings (no more than a few inches around).
Since I'm not fond of oaks (they turn brown in the fall instead of pretty colors, and they dump acorns all over) and we have a bigger old oak that's exactly as much oak as I'd like to have to clean up after, I was thinking of getting rid of these younger oaks and planting something nice and colorful (a sugar maple, a cherry blossom tree, maybe a really large lilac bush, or _something_ along those lines).
I can either saw down and/or hire someone to saw down the existing trees. But, then, what about the trunks/root systems? Obviously, they need to be removed, also. Does this involve hiring big (expensive) bull-dozerish equipment to dig up the stumps? Is there any way to...ahhh...encourage the wood to break down in a few seasons on its own?
I don't mind waiting a few years (say...2-4?) to be able to plant a tree there, but, I'm not sure if there are any economical options that would be effective and non-damaging to the long-term environment. Other than digging the stumps out by hand, which would be REAL hard on my back! :)
Gwen
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If you are good with heavy, dangerous equipment and have a truck, you can rent a stump grinder from a rental company. I would recommend that you find a tree service to cut down your trees and grind out the stumps. A stump that is a foot in diameter will be there for many years if you wait for it to rot. The stump grinder isn't all that large and can be brought across your lawn without causing damage. I would expect to pay $40 to $80 to have the stump ground out. That's what I remember paying a few years ago but prices may be different in your area. The charge is generally based on the diameter of the tree, so if you measure it you may be able to get a rough idea over the phone.
Here are some pictures of stump grinders: http://images.google.com/images?q=stump%20grinder&num 0&hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&safe=off&sa=N&tab=wi
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http://www.ctcare.freeserve.co.uk/stumpremoval.html
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