Do you need to clear land in your yard?
Whether you want to expand your lawn, put in a shed, noise reduction, or keep the woods from encroaching on your property, you can learn how to do so right here.
In this guide, I detail what equipment you need to clear your land. I discuss the preparation necessary, and the steps you need to follow to clear shrubs, vines, and undergrowth as well as small trees.
So, stick around to learn the best way to clear land in your yard so you can better utilize the space or just keep it looking neat!
Brush Clearing Equipment
Brush clearing equipment is made to remove:
- Tangles of brush
- Overgrown weeds
- Saplings/small trees
- Tall plants like cattails
A bulldozer can make quick work of clearing your land, but most homeowners don’t have the budget, training, or need for such drastic measures.
You can also go the standard (and most backbreaking) route and use a chainsaw, ax, or pruners to take on overgrowth.
For the average Joe like me, using tools made to quickly handle the removal of trees and brush like the ones below can make the job of clearing your yard less stressful.
SEE ALSO: How To Cut High Tree Branches
String Trimmer With Blade Attachments
Let’s start small by talking about a tool most homeowners already have in the shed: a string trimmer.
When you install your string trimmer with a heavy-duty commercial-grade line, you can cut down thick weeds, vines, tough grass, and fibrous plants like cattails with ease.
Before you exchange your string trimmer line, make sure you verify the size of line your tool takes, since the opening differs between brands and models.
For thicker brush and saplings, exchange your string trimmer head for one with solid metal blades that come in a variety of styles to fit most models.
I was late to the game when it came to this handy accessory. I didn’t know I could easily convert my string trimmer into a bladed trimmer. Now I use the blades to keep thick brush back from my property line where it borders a forest.
Check out this tutorial that explains how to interchange the heads on your trimmer.
For brushy areas with stems under a half-inch thick, I find using the blade attachment on my gas trimmer clears the land fast. I also like how I can trim weeds to the ground, so regrowth takes longer.
The only downfall is that it requires strength to hold, control, and run the trimmer for a long time. For big jobs with thicker shrubs or trees, you’ll need to step up to more powerful equipment.
A brush mower is an ideal piece of equipment for cutting down overgrown weeds and young trees, especially when you have a large area to clear.
Most brush mowers you walk behind, with a self-propel feature to keep you from struggling to push the mower into thick growth.
You can also attach a pull-behind unit, typically known as a brush or bush hog, to an ATV or tractor, to clear wide swatches of land fast.
Brush mowers can cut through stems or trunks up to three inches thick while destroying vines, weeds, and other brush with ease. Expect a rough cut through the vegetation, with about three to four inches of growth remaining above the ground.
I find using a powerful brush mower to be very effective at keeping rough areas of the landscape under control while maintaining a more natural appearance.
A brush mower or hog is not meant to cut down trees and can come with a hefty price tag.
Thankfully, you can rent a unit as needed to keep your land looking great.
Did you chainsaw down trees on your property but still have annoying tree stumps impeding your ability to use your land as you wish?
While you can spend months chopping away at them with an ax or use chemicals to eat away the wood, there is a smarter way to remove stumps.
A one-man stump grinder can eliminate those stumps fast. These small units are powerful and tear through trunks and roots so you can reclaim and flatten your yard.
Just wheel the grinder over to the stump and start the unit. The blades quickly grind up the woody material. You can re-use the wood chips as mulch in your planters, for walkways, or as compost material.
Keep body parts and clothing clear of the spinning blades, as this is the main cause of stump grinder accidents (some fatal).
If you have a massive amount of large stumps to remove, consider bringing in a professional stump grinding service. Otherwise, you can tackle most average size stumps with a grinder you either purchase or rent.
If you have small trees or large bushes to remove a brush grubber will do the job a brush mower can’t.
Brush grubbers grab a bush, small tree, or stump inside the metal jaws. You attach a chain to the other end and use an ATV, tractor or truck to pull the plant out by the roots.
Once the root is gone, you have no worries because the tree or bush will regrow. This tool also eliminates the need to grind down stumps.
The more force you use against the tool, the harder the jaws grab into the trunk, so there’s no worry it will slip off and cause injury.
Preparation – Before Getting Started
Before you get to work clearing your land, take a few moments to ensure you go about preparing for the project in the right way.
Check Local Laws
Even on private property, there could be neighborhood covenants or local laws that require a permit before clearing land.
Some areas of the country have protected plants or soil erosion issues that could affect your community as a whole. For example, in my neighborhood, I need a permit if I want to take down any live oak trees.
To be safe, inquire with the land planning agency in your town or county for permission before clearing land in your yard.
Take a good walk around the area you wish to clear.
Remove large rocks, any trash (like old propane tanks), chunks of lumber, or other objects that can get caught up in the equipment. Running over a rusty piece of metal with a brush mower can be dangerous to both you and your machinery.
Wrap large boulders or logs with a heavy-duty strap and pull them away with a truck or ATV to a better location.
Mark Things You Want To Keep
Very often, when clearing land in your yard, you have certain trees or vegetation you want to keep.
Mark all trees or areas you want to keep with bright flagging tape. The tape will stop anyone from accidentally mowing down that row of blueberry bushes you’ve been painstakingly growing.
Use a different color flagging tape to mark trees you plan to transplant.
Now that the prep work is complete, let’s get into the steps for clearing your property of unwanted vegetation.
Removing Brush, Vines, And Undergrowth
The most common need for clearing land in your yard is to control weeds, vines, and brush so you can keep your property from looking overgrown and unkempt.
Choose your tool (or tools). Look at the brush that needs clearing. Will a brush grubber pull out those big bushes, and a string trimmer with metal blades take care of the rest?
Decide which equipment will do the entire job safely and with the least amount of physical effort on your part.
SAFETY – No matter if you buy, rent, or borrow the tools you need, take the time to learn and follow all the safety precautions each manufacturer recommends.
When clearing brush, always wear protective eyewear, gloves, long pants, long-sleeve shirt, and sturdy boots.
Scratchy limbs, thorny vines, falling/blowing debris, poison ivy, and razor-sharp tools are just some of the reasons to take safety measures seriously.
Using your string trimmer or brush mower, start cutting the unwanted vegetation until the area is clear. Go around large trees and bushes.
Now that the ground is clear, you can remove larger shrubs with a brush grubber.
You can also wrap the trunk of the bush with a strap and pull it out.
I find the “grabbing” action of the grubber jaws is easier to use, as opposed to trying to wrap a strap around a thick or thorny bush.
Fill in holes left by shrub removal or any low spots you discover after you trim down the vegetation, so the land is level.
Maintain. Keep the vegetation under control by regularly using a brush mower. You can also transition to a standard mower for an even neater appearance.
How To Remove Small Trees
It’s best to remove small trees by pulling them out with the root. Doing so prevents new growth from springing up, and also allows you to transplant the tree elsewhere on your property.
If you have a truck or ATV that can access the trees you want to pull out, use a grubber tool. A grubber tool saves time and aggravation when you have many small trees to clear.
If you can’t pull out the trees, then use a lopper chainsaw or standard chainsaw to cut the tree off close to the base.
Lopper-type chainsaws are great for trunks under four inches in diameter. The tool clamps onto and cuts the tree in one smooth motion.
Use the stump grinder to remove the rest of the tree above the surface. Continue to grind out as much of the root system as possible.
Fill the holes, so the ground is level.
Transplant trees. If you have room in another area of your yard, consider transplanting some of the trees you remove.
Moving trees is a cost-effective and environmentally-friendly way to increase the value of your home.
When transplanting trees, follow this start-to-finish program for successful results.
Once you uproot a tree you plan to plant elsewhere, cover the root ball as fast as possible with a length of burlap material. The burlap will hold in much of the dirt that surrounds and protects the roots until you can set it in its new location.
Clean up debris. Cut up trees into smaller sections, so they are easier to lift into a truck bed, trailer, or wheelbarrow.
You can also use a chipper to turn those trees into mulch. The cost to rent (or own) a chipper will pay for itself with the amount of free mulch you can use in various ways about your yard and garden.
Now that you know the best way to clear land in your yard, you can plan ways to use that space to enhance your property.
Using the prep, tools, and steps that I highlight in this guide should help you get the task done faster, so you can enjoy the new space.
Clearing land can bring more pleasure to your life. You could make a pasture for your animals, put in a pool, start a garden, or open up views to a stunning vista.
I hope this guide helps you safely and efficiently clear your land to make your property more attractive and useful!