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What are the Different Methods of Land Clearing?

By Summer Banks
Updated May 17, 2024
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Land clearing involves the removal of trees and brush on a piece of land. Depending on the size, location, and purpose of the land, the excavation may require professional land clearing equipment. Pushover, cut and grind, and burning are three of the most used land clearing methods.

The pushover method of land clearing often involves the use of major construction equipment. The trees are pushed over and hauled off the land with the roots intact. Once the trees are moved to a central location, they are often processed for sale or ground for use as a mulching material.

The cut and grind method begins with cutting down the trees on the piece of land. These trees are often moved to a processing location, but the stumps are left in the ground. These stumps can be ground into mulching material or pulled out of the grown using a large piece of construction machinery.

Using a controlled burn for land clearing can be one of the most dangerous methods. Burning involves starting a controlled fire and maintaining that fire until all trees and brush are burned to the ground. After the fires are extinguished, the land can be cleared using a bull dozer or other piece of construction equipment.

While some small plots of land may be cleared without the help of a professional, larger plots of land may be more difficult to clear without a team of specialists. This team will often be trained in the fastest and most effective methods of land clearing. They are also more likely to be trained in the local laws and regulations regarding the clearing of land.

One additional option some people choose involves selling the timber located on the plot of land. If the timber is sold before the land is cleared, some timber companies will bring in a team of workers and equipment to clear the land at no cost to the landowner. It is important to ensure that the timber company will not only clear the land, but clean up the debris after the timber has been removed from the plot.

The landowner should remember that land clearing leaves the surface layer of topsoil open to the elements and erosion. This top layer of dirt can be preserved by planting grass in this soil. While the grass may not be needed on the entire lot, it can be easier to remove a patch of grass for development than to import new dirt, to prevent soil loss.

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Discussion Comments

By anon927989 — On Jan 26, 2014

I am thinking of having some pine trees removed from my property and have a company willing to do this. What should I look out for? Should I have a contract stating anything about liability or payment for timber being made to me? I am not sure who to trust!

By anon318201 — On Feb 06, 2013

I'm trying to clear a piece of land for a trailer. There are very few stumps and it contains mostly broom straw. What would the most efficient way of clearing this land be?

By chicada — On Jul 13, 2011

@georgesplane- Depending on how many stumps you have, you can either rent a stump grinder or hire someone to grind them down for you. If you are only grinding a few stumps, you should just hire a landscaper to do the job. The landscaping company that I contract charges $100-$200 for a stump removal.

If you have a large number of stumps to clear, you might be better off renting the equipment and removing the stumps yourself. To get rid of a stump, you need a rake a stump grinder, a chainsaw, and topsoil. You can rent the power tools at a home improvement store for about the cost of paying a landscape crew to remove two stumps, but you will need a truck or trailer to tow the machinery to your property.

Cut the top of the stump as low as possible, rake away any rocks, and let the forged steel blades in the stump grinder scrape the stump away at least four inches underground. Once ground out, fill the hole with your topsoil.

By Georgesplane — On Jul 13, 2011

What can I do about stump removal after land clearing? How do I get these stumps out of the ground so I can make the cleared land ready to build?

I would like to find a cost effective method for getting rid of these stumps. I would appreciate any ideas anyone may have.

By Amphibious54 — On Jul 12, 2011

I used to work for a landscaping and land clearing service in Vermont, and we used to practice more sustainable tree clearing services. Clear-cutting has already resulted in very little old-growth forest left in the state, and will bankrupt the industry is it continues. Most of the trees in the state are softwoods less than thirty years old. Finding stretches with old hardwoods is nearly impossible.

Often times we would consult with the client on ways that they can develop their property without cutting all of the trees down. This may seem counterproductive to a company that makes money from cutting trees, but the landscaping services made up for what the tree-cutting service lost.

By KoiwiGal — On Jun 06, 2011

It always makes me sad to round the corner in a car and come across a patch of land that has been felled like this. I guess it gets used in environmental films a lot, where a character realizes the forest is being destroyed or whatever.

In a lot of cases around here it's simply a bunch of timber trees coming to their fated end, so its hardly a reason to get choked up. And it's interesting to me that only a hundred years ago, people would have thought it merely a sign of progress, rather than a negative thing. Times change, I guess.

By umbra21 — On Jun 05, 2011

People should also remember that the soil loss described in the article has to go somewhere and often gets washed into the local rivers and oceans. This can cause algae blooms, which not only look bad, they also suck all the oxygen out of the water, leading to fish and shellfish dying off.

Just planting grass might not be enough, particularly if you have a river running through the property where you are clearing. You should try to investigate ways of doing it without polluting the surrounding area. The local fishermen will thank you for it.

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