How to Clear Your Land of Small Trees and Brush

posted on Friday, April 19, 2019 in How To

On an acreage or homestead, maintaining your property means more than regular mowing. It can feel like every edge of your land is overgrowing with trees, brush, and tough weeds. With a little maintenance and manual labor, you can tame the growth and keep your property pristine.

Clearing away trees and brush isn’t something you’ll need to do more than once or twice a year. So you probably won’t want to invest in new equipment that’s reserved for this one task. You can instead rely on your existing small farm equipment and a handful of hand tools to get the job done.

5 Tools for Clearing Brush by Hand

Time is money. But sometimes you have a much bigger supply of time than the funds to purchase a bunch of equipment. It’s much easier to set aside a weekend or two to battle the brush. If you have the hours to invest, these hand tools can help you cut through the overgrowth.

Axes and Hatchets

A good, sharp ax and a smaller hatchet allow you to hack your way through thick brush and shrubs. With a few quick swings, you can cut back an entire bush. If the parts of your property are wooded and aren’t needed for pasture or other purposes, you can chop down small trees and leave the stumps to decompose.

Chainsaw

For bigger trees or large clusters of them, a chainsaw is far more efficient than an ax. A chainsaw is only as good as its chain, so get a variety of chains designed for the type of work you’ll do — heavy-duty usage, clean cutting, or power. Chains dull after several hours of use, so you’ll want extras as a backup if you plan on getting all your chainsaw work done in a weekend.

Brush Grubber

A brush grubber is a nifty little tool that removes small trees, stumps and all. You simply attach it to a tree, hook it up to your utility vehicle or pickup, and hit the gas to rip the tree right out of the ground. Brush grubbers are ideal for trees five inches in diameter or less — just the type that you’ll likely want off your land.

Spade

Small trees may look skinny and easy to pull out. But their root systems might be well-established and make it a lot more difficult than you expected. Grab a spade from your garden or shed to loosen up the base of small trees before you pull them out. A spade is also useful for digging out the bases of bushes and shrubs that you can’t remove with a brush grubber.

Pruning Tools

Sometimes you’d rather keep the trees than chop them down or pull them out. A set of pruning tools can help you trim branches that are overcrowded or causing other problems on your property. Shears, saws, and loppers let you trim branches and stems in a variety of sizes. You can even improve the health of your trees in the process.

Bigger Equipment for Larger Land-Clearing Jobs

Horsepower beats manpower. If you own a large amount of land or have a new property suffering from years of neglected brush maintenance, you may be more inclined to invest in land-clearing equipment. Specialized attachments for small farm equipment you already own can save you days of back-breaking labor and make maintaining your large lot more manageable.

Rotary Cutter

Trees and brush aren’t the only things that get out of hand. The grass turns into overgrowth much faster and becomes too much for your mower to handle. A tractor-mounted rotary cutter can cut through thick grass and even saplings up to an inch thick. It’s a great tool for pastures or large lots that you leave ungroomed.

Root Grapple

Another attachment for your compact utility tractor, a root grapple helps you pick up and load all the branches, trees, and brush you cut down. You can grab a whole pile of debris and load it into your pickup bed, utility vehicle cargo box, or a trailer hooked to either one. Or drive the tractor to a nearby dumpsite with a load of brush gripped in the teeth of the grapple to eliminate the need for another piece of equipment.

3 Steps for Clearing Brush and Small Trees

Take a lap around your property and size up the situation. Identify the areas of overgrowth you want to tackle first and the equipment needed to get it done. Once you know the needs of your project, you can complete it more efficiently by breaking it up into three phases.

1. Clearing

Use your hand tools to clear away the small trees, bushes, and shrubs to thin out the overgrowth. This will give you more space to walk and work or bring in bigger equipment to take on tougher tasks.

At a minimum, you want to remove the thick brush so you have room to swing an ax or use a chainsaw. It also gives the trees you’re cutting room to fall without getting tangled up in more brush. Making way for your truck or utility vehicle can give you a convenient spot to load all the debris or for stump removal.

2. Cutting

Cut down the trees and chop off the limbs with your ax, hatchet, chainsaw, and pruning tools. You should have cleared a nice path in step one to back up your pickup or UTV to use a brush grubber.

As the trees and branches pile up, you can make loading and hauling easier by cutting everything into manageable logs. Use the length of your pickup bed, UTV cargo box, or pull-behind trailer as a measuring stick.

3. Cleanup

Load up your brush piles by hand, with the help of a wheelbarrow, or by bringing in a root grapple. Haul it to a better spot for disposal or burning if it’s allowed in your area. Remove small stumps and fill in the holes they leave behind with a spade. For larger stumps, you can drill holes into them and fill them with salt or chemicals to make them decompose faster.

After stumps are removed, finish the area off with your rotary cutter. Mark any large stumps left behind to avoid damaging your tractor or attachment.

With the overgrowth gone and all the debris cleared, you have even more usable land on your property. And you can use it however you see fit — an attractive area to enhance the overall look of your homestead, pasture for grazing livestock, or a new plot for a garden or crops. No matter what you choose to do with it, an acreage free of small trees and brush makes your land more appealing and enjoyable.

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