There are a lot of good reasons for clearing land. First and foremost, of course, it makes the land more usable. If the property in question is overgrown with weeds, shrubs, and trees, there isn’t too much you can do with it — especially if you want to build something there.
Once you identify the land you want to be cleared, the next step is to gather information on the kinds of equipment you need, the costs involved, and how you’re going to do it.
Best Types of Land-Clearing Machines
There are several types of land-clearing equipment. Here are some common types of equipment you might want to consider, depending on the nature of the job you’re about to undertake.
Mini excavators can be used for larger-scale land clears and are used for digging, earthmoving, and removing debris. These machines can use several different types of attachments to help clear land, such as mulchers.
Another attachment that may come in handy is a bucket (the most common attachment) with teeth for digging and scooping up material. For larger materials, such as tree stumps or concrete that won’t fit in a bucket, you can use a clamp attachment, and for digging and drilling holes, you might want to consider an auger.
Excavators themselves come in different configurations. Crawlers work well to lift heavy debris and soil. Their chain-wheel system with a continuous tread enables them to function well on uneven land and hillsides, so if you’re dealing with this kind of terrain, they can be a good choice. Suction excavators can be used to vacuum up soil and debris.
Bulldozers are recognizable from the scoop on the front that can be used to push, dig, or level earth. They can be used to clear a piece of land, and crawler bulldozers, like crawler excavators, can operate on uneven terrain.
Larger big-wheel bulldozers are also available for bigger jobs, and they’re also more maneuverable. Smaller mini-dozers are another option. Different blades can be attached to the front for scraping and leveling (the PAT blade), shaping and stumping (the angle blade), or backfilling and crowning (the semi-U blade).
Skid Steer Loaders
Similar to a tractor, skid steers are a kind of heavy equipment that can be used to pick up, transfer, and move dirt, rocks, and other debris.
Skid steer loaders have buckets that face away from the driver to push and lift rather than pulling and lifting. They’re also more compact than crawlers, so they can maneuver in tight spaces.
Like other dozers and excavators, skid steers can be modified with different attachments for different jobs. The standard scoop can be replaced with other attachments that can help with clearing land, such as a backhoe, auger, tiller, or wood chipper. Skid steers come in small, medium, and large sizes suitable for different clearing tasks.
Tractors & Backhoes
Tractors and backhoes are used for clearing rocks, stumps, small trees, dirt, and other debris. They are also great at digging.
Backhoe loaders can dig or perform minor excavation jobs, and they can also be used to move things from one place to another, whether it be boulders, dirt, gravel, or even plants while keeping the roots intact.
Because backhoes are so versatile, they make a good starting point for a land clearing project. They may not be the only piece of equipment you need, but they can do a lot, and they come in a variety of sizes depending on the size of your job.
Best Types of Brush-Clearing Machines
Clearing land requires a way to get rid of brush, overgrown areas, and organic debris. There are several different types of machines that can be used to accomplish this.
Stump grinders are used for stump removal and to get rid of tree stumps after tree removal. Vertical stump grinders are available from 70 to 300 horsepower. They can grind up a 20-inch-diameter root in 30 seconds.
A stump grinder uses carbide teeth to grind the stump and roots of a tree into small chips. Because of the amount of force involved in this process, it can be dangerous, so it’s essential to wear the proper safety equipment: Outfit yourself in a hard hat, safety goggles, gloves, work boots, and thick, close-fitting long-sleeve clothes.
Brush mowers are commonly used for taller vegetation such as overgrown grass, weeds, brush, or woody material such as saplings. The word “mower” should give you an idea of what they do, but instead of mowing lawns, they’re designed to mow more substantial plants. As with lawnmowers, ride-on or push brush mowers are available.
Rotary blades are one option, but for heavier brush, flail blades can be used to pull up the entire plant and mulch it while you’re cutting it.
Mulchers can be used to clear underbrush, small trees, and leftover fencing. There are also mulching attachments used with machines like tractors, skid steers, and excavators.
A mulcher leaves behind the mulch, or ground-up vegetation, as it goes.
There are two kinds of mulchers: those with vertical heads that look like lawnmowers or chipping discs, and those with horizontal shafts that contain a continuously spinning chipping drum, mounted on a carrier. Vertical mulchers can only handle trees up to a certain size (up to about 6- or 8-inch material). Larger trees may require stump grinders, dozers, or other equipment.
If you have steep slopes, you may also want to check and see whether a mulcher can maneuver on that kind of terrain.
There are also forestry mulchers equipped with teeth that tear and shred brush as you go, while also possibly churning up topsoil.
String trimmers, often referred to by the proprietary name Weed Eater, are great for clearing up heavier-duty brush, shrubs, saplings, and weeds. They also help trim vegetation that a brush mower can’t mow, like along fences or gardens.
You may be familiar with string trimmers from your regular yard work because they’re handy for reaching places such as corners and clearing away high weeds that you can’t mow.
Trimmers are available in gas, corded, or cordless electric models. The string will break gradually as you use a trimmer, so you may want to get a refill or two if you are planning on a big job.
What To Consider for a Land-Clearing Job
Before you embark on a land-clearing job, there are several questions you should ask in preparation. The answers will help you determine how to proceed, including but not limited to the size and kind of equipment you’ll be using.
With that in mind, here are some questions you should consider asking yourself before starting a land-clearing project.
- What type of land clearing machine will you need?
- Will you need a permit to clear the land? Factors such as soil, animals, vegetation, or property landmarks may prevent you from clearing the land.
- Will the type of trees you are clearing require additional tree removal equipment?
- What piece of land are you clearing?
- What material will you need to clear away? Unwanted or fallen trees? Large rocks? Overgrowth of brush and weeds?
Factors to consider for land-clearing machines as well:
- Durability (overheating issues, maintenance cost, fuel-efficiency)
- Horsepower (digging power, lifting small or heavy materials, type of project)
Depending on the terrain you need to clear and the kind of vegetation or other debris you’re facing, you’ll need to consider different land-clearing techniques, as well.
Cut and Grind
This is a three-step process of removing the weeds and brush first, then cutting down trees, which are then placed into a big pile to transfer them to either a dumpster or another forest.
The first step is removing the small vegetation such as tall grass, weeds, or brush. This creates space to cut down trees, which is the second step. This step requires using heavy machinery such as an excavator or backhoe to bring the trees down. Afterward, the remaining trunks and logs are placed into a pile, which are then transported to a dumpster or nearby forest.
You can use large machinery to bulldoze and completely remove brush and large trees and by pushing them over. The success of this approach will depend on how big the obstacles are and how tough the machinery is, so if you’re renting a bulldozer, for example, check to see what it’s capable of. If you’re going to be pushing over trees, you’ll want to know how big they are and how deeply rooted they are before proceeding.
You can clear your land by using chainsaws, axes, hand tools, etc. This option is time-consuming and labor-intensive, but it’s also the least expensive method. Again, a lot will depend on what kind of clearing you have to perform. Dense undergrowth, large boulders, and other material may not be conducive to hand clearing, and heavy equipment such as dozers, backhoes, or skid steers may be needed to address such obstacles.
This method is shredding and clearing out heavy vegetation, such as underbrush and small trees, without causing damage to the environment.
The process requires using a forest mulcher to clear out any vegetation in the forest. You won’t be damaging the environment and vegetation as much; instead, you are putting it back into the ground.
Land Clearing Services
If you’re clearing land, you’ll probably need to rent a dumpster to dispose of trees, brush, and other forestry materials, and may need to rent heavy equipment as well.
Feel free to reach out to BigRentz land-clearing rental services for your rental needs and any questions you may have about what kind of equipment you may need, as well as about what clearing services are available.