What Is Land Clearing?
Land clearing, also known as lot clearing, is the process of removing trees, tree stumps, boulders, and debris from property for the purposes of property improvement, construction projects or land development.
Whether you plan to use your plot of land for farming, hunting, real estate development or other purposes, land clearing is a great way to enlarge the feel of your territory and put your acreage to use while maintaining a respectful relationship with the nature around it.
Equipment Used for Land Clearing
One compelling reason to outsource your land clearing project to a professional landscape company is the amount of machinery needed to perform the job well. Land clearing differs from other landscaping services, like bush hogging, in that the density of land being cleared is much thicker, overgrown, and more complicated start to finish. Where basic brush hogging services can cut saplings up to three inches in diameter and successfully mow away at tall brush and grasses, land clearing also involves the removal of heavy, fixed materials and creates a smooth plot of earth free of depressions and debris.
Brush hoggers are rotary mowers that cut down thick vegetation, overgrown underbush and tall grasses. Attached with a three-point hitch and pulled behind a tractor, bush hoggers can clear large areas of land that have been left unattended, including property with small trees, without causing damage to the machine’s spinning blades.
Front loaders are used to move fallen tree limbs or large rocks out of the path of clearing machinery. Eliminating the land of large, heavy objects will make the land clearing process easier and remove the need to stop and start any time an obstacle is encountered.
For boulder or tree stump removal, a large chain can be wrapped around the item and hauled away behind a tractor.
If there are trees or areas of vegetation you do not want to have removed in land clearing, be sure to communicate this verbally and visually with your land clearing company. Mark off untouchable areas using bright yellow caution tape, or wrap them in landscaping fabric for protection. If there are any low hanging branches from tall trees that are at risk for being caught or cut, clearly mark these off as well.
Things to Consider When Preparing for Land Clearing
Although it is highly recommended that you choose a contracting service to perform the act of land clearing, there are a handful of considerations and preparations you can make prior to bringing in an outside land clearing company.
Determine if you need a permit. Depending on where your land is located and the vegetation that surrounds it, there may be protected wild lands or wildlife residing on your property that requires a permit to remove. Before you undertake any measure of work, check with your local land planning agency to see if you’re permitted to clear the land. While it might seem like a hassle at first, beginning a project only to find out that you are not authorized to continue due to local regulations could result in expensive fines. The good news? If you hire a contractor, they might be able to take care of the necessary permits for you.
Fell any trees and remove boulders. If you are capable of operating a chainsaw and your plot of land isn’t too large, this is a task that can be carried out in advance of professional land clearing. The wood gathered from fallen trees can either be hauled away for disposal, made into mulch using a mulching attachment on a skid steer machine, or cut into firewood and stored.
Keep in mind that any large trees or trees with visible signs of decay - dead limbs, unseasonably dry leaves - could result in physical injury if improperly cut down, and should be left for a professional contractor.
Grub up tree stumps. To remove tree stumps left behind from tree felling, grab a shovel and dig down around the remaining stump roots until as many are exposed as possible. This will loosen the stump and allow it to be uprooted more easily. Attach a heavy chain to the back of a tractor, and secure the opposite end around the stump. After a few initial motions, the stump should pull free.
How to Contract Out a Land Clearing Job
If you’ve taken a look at your property and determined it would be best to outsource the work of land clearing to local professionals, you can rest easy knowing you’ve made the right choice. Clearing property lots takes a significant amount of time and money if you have little background in landscaping, as the majority of the machinery necessary to land clear will need to be rented out and maintained.
As you begin the process of getting names of local contractors and gathering quotes, here are a few important factors to bear in mind.
Set a budget. Know what you are willing to spend, and then have conversations with professionals about what they consider a reasonable amount based on your land area and type of terrain. Find out what is included in their land clearing service, and what services you would need to pay extra for (tree removal, stump removal, mulching, etc.).
Ask family and friends for recommendations. If you know someone who has paid for land clearing services before, ask them who they hired to perform the task, and find out of they would recommend the company.
Plan to land clear in the spring and autumn. While it’s true you can land clear in any season (with the exception of in extreme cold or snow), performing a landscaping job is always more enjoyable for all parties involved when they aren’t stuck outdoors in extreme temperatures. Another benefit to land clearing in more mild seasons is that growth to grasses and trees isn’t likely to be as rapid, meaning clearing the territory should be more manageable and require less equipment.
Questions to Ask Your Land Clearing Service
As you prepare to hire a land clearing service to help prepare and clear your land, there are a few questions that will help you narrow down the best company for the job.
How do you set your prices?
Many landscape contractors set their service prices according to square footage of land. If you have an extensive amount of land that needs cleared, that can cause the price to rise very quickly; however, it will also guarantee that you won’t be taken advantage of by creating an open agreement based on the amount of time spent performing the service.
Do you perform tree felling/debris removal?
Costs depend on the amount of equipment needed to do the job of land clearing. If you are willing to fell trees beforehand and/or remove debris afterward, you can save on contracting out those services; however, be sure that you know what you are doing prior to attempting any kind of sizeable project. In the end, the cost of independently renting out your own equipment may end up breaking even with what you’d pay a professional to do it - plus, you would have peace of mind that the job and all associated risks are being handled the right way, the first time.
Will you fill in the holes left behind from stump removal?
While not all companies include tree or stump removal as part of a land clearing service, some may, and most will offer it as an additional service - sometimes even performed on the same day as land clearing. After stumps, boulders and other sizeable portions of nature have been removed from the ground, there will most likely be a depression or hole left behind. If this area isn’t filled in or smoothed over, it could create a potentially hazardous situation for any person out walking around on the property. Plan ahead and ask your contractor if he or she will grade the land following the removal of any debris.
How Much Does Land Clearing Cost?
If you choose to contract out the work to a professional, the cost of land clearing will likely be based on a variety of factors, including those listed below.
Size of land needing to be cleared. There is a big difference in terms of the amount of effort required to clear an acre of land versus a large area of forest. When getting a quote on service cost, expect to be asked how large the area needing serviced is, or even to show the area of property in person.
Type of terrain. Steep inclines, ditches, tree stumps and a remote location are all details that make a difference in the price you’re quoted.
Time of year. Very hot and very cold temperatures can make work harder and take longer.
Additional hired help. The potential for subcontractors to assist in the work depends entirely on the amount and density of the land needing to be cleared. You should get a good idea how the company you hire plans to approach the project early on, so don’t hesitate to ask.
Benefits of Land Clearing
The benefits of land clearing are numerous and have the potential to positively impact your property for years to come. For homeowners sitting on a large area of unmaintained land, clearing out the overgrowth can enlarge the feel of the property, giving them an increased sense of value and aesthetic enjoyment. For farmers or real estate developers, leveling dense overgrowth and opening up heavily forested areas can promote vibrant agricultural growth or set the stage for buildings and homes to be constructed.
When you hire professionals to do the job of land clearing for you, you save time, money, eliminate risk of bodily injury, and can trust that the final result will be something to take pride in. Learn more about North Georgia Contractor services by going to our Services page and reading about all the services we offer.
Are you ready to clear your land?