Best way to clear land?? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

What is the best way to clear land? Our 39-acre property is totally wooded, mostly hardwoods. I've heard a local heavy equipment outfit charges $1K per acre, is that typical?

We want to build a house (of course) and have at least one dairy cow and some beef cattle, plus an orchard. Of course a veggie garden, chickens, etc. but don't need as much cleared for that.


-- alana (, July 18, 2000


In my area you'd let out the portion of the 39 you wanted cleared to a lumber company. That assumes you've got timber size or at least pulp size trees. Then get a bulldozer to knock out stumps at about $400/acre here. Maybe you could get the timber company to do this with a skidder. Now if you only have saplings or smaller trees a tractor with a front blade will do. Maybe a bush hog and a lot of noise. For cut-over land that has a lot of regrowth add enough brush goats and they'll strip it bare. If your trees are most pine there's no need to remove stumps. They rot out in about 3 years.

-- charles (, July 18, 2000.

If your trees are large enough a logging company will come in and harvest them , then pay YOU .You can work out with them what you want cut and add in to remove all stumps .

-- Patty Gamble (, July 19, 2000.

Another option is to look around for someone who has a portable mill. Locally the fellas will come and saw up the wood for half the take. If its hardwood then you might get some really nice floors out of it! Anything smaller can always be firewood.

-- TerriYeomans (, July 19, 2000.

I dont know what kind of time frame you want to clear your land but if you have a year or so to do it... We cleared and partially seasoned our lumber by waiting until just after winter had set in (november) and the sap had gone down, then I took the chainsaw and cut a ring around the tree about a inch deep, making sure I went all the way through the bark in into the wood. The idea there is to kill the tree but leave it standing so it can season a lot quicker instead of waiting for it when its on the ground. If you dont know how to cut down a tree yourself safely DONT TRY IT YOURSELF! its damn dangerous and your life isnt worth the couple of hundred bucks you might save doing it yourself instead of hiring somebody.
We waited until the next winter when the ground had first frozen (keeps the topsoil from getting all chopped up and rutted)to cut them down, trim the branches and then hired a bulldozer to stack them along the edges of the clearing (about 3/4 of an acre). While the bulldozer was there he also dug the hole for the basement and septic.
You end up with a bunch of dead trees standing for a summer which doesnt look very nice, but it seemed to help the seasoning along a lot.
It left a LOT of stumps though, which Im eventually going to hire a stump grinder (on the advice of others in the forum) to take care of, by the way the trees we had to deal with were mainly varieties of pine and birch.

Just my opinion, hope it helps a bit.

-- Dave (AK) (, July 19, 2000.

Here in SW MO dozer work is $75 per hour. Takes about 3 hours per acre. But then the real work begins in smoothing up the mess and picking up the roots and rocks. I've done about 100 acres in the last 12 years so I know first hand. It will never be as nice as if you just cut it with a chainsaw and let the stumps rot out. Ends up smoother that way, but much slower and alot of work. Here it takes a big machine to take out the big trees. If you cut them first you can't get high up on them to push so will have to dig out stumps with a backhoe if you want rid of them. I have a small dozer and its worthless in bigger timber. Don

-- Don (, July 19, 2000.

First of all, note that any area that's just stumps can grow useful pasture between the stumps until the stumps rot (unless it's all pine- needles - in that case, you'd need to plough them in).

If you're stuck with lots of stumps, you can get a big power-drill or auger - the sort they use for drilling holes through timber fence- posts - and drill lots of holes in the stumps, going downwards into them. Fill the holes with an oxidant (saltpeter as used in gunpowder is traditional, but there's no reason why ammonium nitrate shouldn't work). Now, I am not going to tell you to top the holes up with diesel fuel and blow the stumps to Kingdom Come. Just leave them through winter (topping the holes up again as the oxidant level in them goes down) and into next summer until they're well dried. The oxidant will have dissolved, and diffused through the wood. The wood will burn a lot better than stumps normally do - light fires on top of them, and the bulk of the stumps should just burn away. I've heard of people topping the holes off with diesel fuel at this stage, giving it a week to soak in, then burning, and it should be safe enough, but if you do this you're on your own. I've only heard of that with saltpeter.

Now go through between what's left of the stumps with a ripper behind a tractor (slowly - you don't want to flip the tractor over backwards when you hit a solid root) breaking the roots and bringing them to the surface. Gather them, more burning, and then that area is cultivable - rough, but you can work it up.

-- Don Armstrong (, July 22, 2000.

We were 13 acres of national forest with underbrush so thick you couldn't walk through. I am so glad we didn't clear everything, little did I know that I would make such a go of my goats, who do much better on browse than on pasture. We had a big dozer come in push through our road, clear a section for the house, shop, barn and gardens. We then called a logging company to take out the pine (though we did keep some in the very front and the far back, we have pine bettles in Texas and also in a hurrican, pine and sweet gum are the first to blow over) for pulp wood, you have to be there and be very careful that they understand what trees they can take! Leave yourself a wood lot! Have as part of the contract that the tops be piled up, something they can do in a matter of hours with their equipment, that would take you forever with a chainsaw! Have yourself a plan, know what exactly you want to do with your property, lots of the folks out by us completly cleared their places, and now they spend weekends mowing. What a waste and a drag! Vicki

-- Vicki McGaugh (, July 22, 2000.

The burning stumps idea will work IF your soil doesn't have a lot of organic matter, and has a fairly high moisture level. Otherwise the roots can burn underground for quite a ways, can actually start peaty soils on fire, and can cause spot fires to errupt some distance from the original stump. Just know your soil, and be careful.

-- Kathleen Sanderson (, July 22, 2000.

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