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If you’ve purchased a lot to build a new house, chances are, the land will need to be cleared before any construction can begin. In some cases, that may involve removing large trees. But in other cases, you might only need to remove small trees and brush, which is a project you may be able to do on your own rather than paying for a professional.
It’s also possible that you have an existing house and property that includes an area you’d like to clear. Maybe you want to make the yard or useable space larger and requires some clearing. Whatever the case may be, this article covers how to clear land of small trees and brush so you’ll know the full process that should be followed.
How to Clear Land of Small Trees and Brush
Before we get into the specific steps, it’s important to point out the need for safety and caution. Regardless of the tools or equipment, you’re using, safety should always be the top priority. Be sure to read the instructions from the manufacturer of any tool or piece of equipment that you use to be sure you’re using it safely and as intended. Always exercise caution, and if you’re not sure if something is safe, reach out to a professional for help. Now, let’s move on to the details.
Clearing your land of small trees and brushes is generally done in three phases. Here is an overview of the process.
Phase 1: Clearing
This step is highly essential in thinning out the ground vegetation. In the clearing phase, you get rid of the small trees, brush, vines, shrubs, and tough weeds. The clearing phase will give you more room to walk, work, and a place to haul your logs once you are done with the bigger trees.
Phase 2: Felling
After the smaller trees are taken care of, you will move on to the trees bigger than 5 inches in diameter (roughly). In this phase, you will start bringing down the big trees. Once the larger trees are taken care of, you can cut them into smaller sections with a chainsaw so they can be moved and hauled away.
NOTE: Bringing down the bigger trees requires the utmost care as this process is dangerous. Therefore, if you cannot work with a chainsaw or if the tree is too large to remove on your own, call any tree removal service instead of trying to cut it down yourself.
Phase 3: Cleaning
Once the land is cleared of trees, shrubs, brush, and weeds, your job is not completely done. The next step in how to clear land of small trees and brush is taking care of the debris that remains. After having taken down the trees, you will notice stumps, roots, and large holes sticking out of the ground in places where you pulled out or pushed over the trees. In some cases, you may be able to burn part or all of the wood and roots, but in most cases, you’ll need to have it hauled away.
Once the logs and brushes are disposed of, use a shovel to fill the large holes left and dispose of the exposed roots and shrubs. Fill the gaps with dirt and treat the area with weed killer to destroy any remaining weed (unless the ground will be excavated for construction).
Steps for Clearing Your Land of Small Trees and Brushes
Clearing your land of small trees, brush, tough weeds, and shrubs can be a complicated process depending on the size and thickness of the growth, the size of the area that you’re clearing, and the tools that you’re working with. However, it’s possible in many cases to do the work on your own and save some money.
Here are the details steps you should take.
Land Inspection and Local Laws
Before you start the process of clearing your land, it’s important that you check for any local laws or regulations related to clearing the land and burning brush or debris. Depending on your location, there may be specific rules or restrictions that apply. For example, some areas have burn bans in place at certain times of the year.
Additionally, you should also inspect the land to get an idea of what you’re dealing with. Note the type of growth, how dense it is, and the size and thickness of the trees. This will give you a better idea of what tools and equipment you’ll need as well as how long the process might take.
Have a Plan for Disposal
Before you clear the land, you’ll need to have a plan for disposing of the debris. If you’re going to burn it, make sure that burning is allowed in your area and that you have the necessary permits. If not, determine how you will dispose of the debris otherwise. You may need to hire a dumpster or rent a chipper to remove it from your property. You can also hire a tree service to come and use their equipment to chip or shred the debris.
Medium and large trees may be used for firewood, but you’ll need to split the logs. If you have more firewood than you want to store on your property, you can have someone pick it up or take it somewhere if you have a truck.
Gather the Needed Tools
The specific tools needed will depend on what you need to clear from the land and the size of the area that you’ll be clearing. We’ll provide details on suggested tools later in the article on How to Clear Land of Small Trees and Brush.
Begin with String Trimming
Before moving on to the trees, you first have to take down the thick weeds, vines, shrubs, and brush. The goal here is to clean out the areas between the trees that need to be taken down with a chainsaw or other equipment.
Most of this can be done with a string trimmer, something you may already have in your shed. Powerful string trimmers tend to take down vines, brush, and weeds without too much trouble (see our list of the best battery-powered string trimmers). If the growth is too thick, however, you’ll need to use a brush cutter, which is a more powerful tool. Brush cutters are expensive to buy for one-time use, but you can rent one from a local hardware store.
Cut Down the Trees
After the brush, shrubs, vines, and weeds are taken care of, it is now time to take down the trees. If the trees are small, you can use a chainsaw or even push them over with an excavator. But if they’re larger, you may need help for a professional.
Start by cutting the tree as close to the ground as possible. You’ll want to make sure that you have a good grip on the chainsaw and that you’re not overreaching. If the tree is too tall, you can cut it into sections, starting at the top and working your way down. Professionals may need to be hired for the taller trees because they have lifts, ropes, and other gear that can be used to bring the tree down safely.
After the tree is down, use the stump grinder to grind up the stump. This will take some time depending on how large the stump is. Once it’s ground down, you can fill in the hole with dirt.
As an alternative to a stump grinder, you can use an excavator to dig up the stump and roots. This adds to the debris that will need to be removed, and you’ll have to fill the hole, but it can be faster if you have the right equipment.
Cut the Felled Trees into Small Sections
After the tree is down, you need to cut it into smaller sections so that it can be removed from the property. If you’re going to use a chipper, the wood should be cut to a size that the chipper can handle, but cutting if more is not necessary. If you’re burning it or taking it away, you’ll need to cut it into manageable pieces.
You can use a chainsaw to cut the tree into smaller sections or use a log splitter if you have one.
Remove Debris from the Property
Now that the trees and brush are cleared, you need to remove the debris from your property. If you’re going to burn it, do so now. If you’re taking it away, load it onto a truck or trailer and take it to the dump. If you’re renting a chipper, have them come and chip up the debris.
Depending on how much debris there is and how you’re disposing of it, this may be a one-day job or something that takes several days.
IMPORTANT SAFETY INSTRUCTION: Always wear protective gear and follow the safety guidelines. You will be provided with a manual whenever you buy tools and equipment, and it is extremely important that you follow all the precautions issued by the manufacturer.
Tools and Equipment for Land Clearing
Now that you know the steps involved in clearing land, let’s take a look at some of the specific tools and equipment that you’ll need to do the job.
As we mentioned earlier, a string trimmer is a good place to start when clearing out brush, weeds, and vines. You may already have one that you use for taking care of your lawn. But if not, they’re relatively inexpensive and easy to find. Just make sure to get one that’s powerful enough to handle the job.
If the brush is thick, you may need a brush trimmer, which is capable of cleaning thicker vines and brush than a string trimmer. You may want to rent one if you don’t think you’ll have use for it in the future.
You’ll need a chainsaw for taking down trees, cutting them into smaller sections, and removing stumps. If you don’t already have one, they’re relatively inexpensive and it’s a good tool to have on hand for the future.
An ax can be used for taking down small trees and cutting them into smaller sections. It’s not as fast as a chainsaw, but it’s much cheaper and can be used for other tasks around the property. If you have a chainsaw, an ax probably isn’t necessary.
A stump grinder is a tool that’s used to grind up tree stumps so that they can be removed from the property. You can rent one from a local equipment rental company if you don’t want to buy one.
A chipper is a machine that’s used to grind up tree branches and other debris so that it can be removed from the property. There are many different ways to use wood chips
You’ll need a shovel for digging up stumps and removing debris from the property, as well as filling holes with dirt.
A wheelbarrow will make it easier to move debris around the property.
If you have a lot of land to clear, you may want to consider renting or buying a tractor. This will make the job go much faster. But if you only have a small amount of land, it’s probably not necessary.
You should always wear safety goggles when using power tools, or doing landscaping and yard work.
Wearing gloves will protect your hands from getting cuts, scrapes, and blisters. They will also protect you (somewhat) from thorns and sharp branches.
While it’s optional and may not be needed for smaller jobs, an excavator is a handy tool if you have access to one. It can be used for removing stumps and debris, as well as digging holes and even pushing over smaller trees. It is also the quickest way to clear what is in your way in our How to Clear Land of Small Trees and Brush guide.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need a permit to clear my land?
You may need a permit to clear your land, depending on where you live and the size of the land you’re clearing. It’s always best to check with your local zoning office before starting any work.
When can you clear your yard by hand?
If you own a small piece of land, then you can clear the small brushes and weeds by hand. Similarly, if it is smooth terrain, you can opt for clearing it by hand instead of using pricey equipment. However, if you are finding it difficult to clear out the yard by yourself, you can hire someone to clear your land for you.
How do I get rid of debris after clearing my land?
Once the land is cleared of trees, brush, and shrubs, you will have to dispose of them in an effective and non-hazardous way. You may be able to burn this debris, depending on local regulations and the amount of debris you have. Another option is to rent a chipper and create wood chips that can be used in a number of ways. Lastly, you can hire someone to pick up the debris and remove it for you.
What do I need to clear brush and small trees?
The size of the brush and trees will determine what type of equipment you need. If the brush is thick, you may need a brush trimmer, which is capable of cleaning thicker vines and brush than a string trimmer. You’ll also need a chainsaw for bringing down small trees and cutting them into sections. You may need a wood chipper to grind up the debris, and a wheelbarrow to move it around.
What is the cheapest way to clear land?
The cheapest way to clear land is by hand, but this is only practical for small areas of land. For larger areas, you’ll need to rent or buy equipment. You can also save money by doing some of the work yourself, such as cutting down small trees with a chainsaw.
How do I keep brush from growing back?
Once you’ve cleared the land, you’ll need to take steps to prevent the brush from growing back. This includes removing the roots of trees and shrubs, as well as regular mowing the area. You may also want to consider planting grass or other plants that will help prevent the growth of brush.
Can you clear land with a tractor?
A tractor can be used to clear land, but it’s not necessary for small jobs. Also, tractors aren’t ideal if there are a lot of trees or if there are larger trees. If you’re mostly clearing brush, the tractor will be ideal.
Can you push over trees with a tractor?
Yes, you can push over trees with a tractor. But, you need to be careful not to damage the tractor and to avoid injuring yourself. Also, make sure that the tree is not too big for the tractor.
What is the best way to remove stumps?
The best way to remove stumps is with an excavator or a stump grinder. If you have a lot of stumps, you may want to consider renting or buying a stump grinder.
When is the best time to clear land?
The best time to clear land is in the fall or winter when the leaves have fallen and the vegetation is dormant. This will make the job easier and reduce the amount of brush and growth that needs to be cleared.
How to Clear Land of Small Trees and Brush: Final Thoughts
Now that you know how to clear land of small trees and brush, it’s time to get started on your project. Be sure to check with your local zoning office to see if you need a permit. Once you have the proper permits, you can begin clearing the land by hand or with equipment. Be sure to dispose of the debris in an effective and non-hazardous way. Good luck!
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