You Start That Project
You may want to clear your land for different reasons, such as building a new home, starting a farming project, or simply creating a nice trail on your lot. Whatever your reasons, you want to make some careful considerations first because land clearing is a lot of work.
Not only could several things go wrong (if you’re doing it yourself), but you also want to work smoothly with the land-clearing service (if you’re hiring).
Should You Do Land Clearing Yourself?
Depending on the scale of your project, you may want to tackle it yourself or hand it over to a land-clearing service. If you know your way around bobcats and stump grinders and just want to clear up a small area, perhaps for a new garage, you might be able to do the job yourself.
But generally, it’s smarter to leave land clearing to the professionals: it’s safer, way faster, and certainly more efficient (check our guide on how to hire the right land-clearing service).
Taking on a land clearing project yourself to save money may seem like a good idea. However, it’s a lot of trouble, and there are several parts e.g. clearing a large area, getting rid of stumps, disposing of the material, and dealing with erosion, that are particularly tough to deal with without professionals.
6 Things to Do & Consider Before Starting a Land Clearing Project
Confirm the land clearing regulations in your area
The last thing you want to do is face fines and expenses because you did things illegally. Regulations will vary by region. Check with your town’s zoning and building departments to get the necessary permits and approval. Also, keep in mind that building permits cost money. While the prices vary, they’ll typically set you back a few hundred bucks.
Conduct a land survey
Depending on the scope of your project, you might need to do a land survey. Most states require a land survey for big land clearing projects, for building construction, for instance. If your land clearing involves only minor vegetation removal, then a survey may not be necessary.
The following factors can determine if you might need to conduct a survey for a land-clearing project:
- If it involves subdivision or creating structures or roads on the land.
- If it affects any encroachments, easements, or boundary lines on the land.
A land survey is typically done before you buy the land to define boundary lines. It can also identify potential challenges or setbacks on the property. This will guide the best approach to land clearing i.e., what method and equipment to use. You will typically need to do the following in a land survey or site assessment:
Evaluate the Terrain: Examine the land to identify any potential hazards such as steep slopes, bodies of water, or rocky terrain. Apart from preventing potential accidents, this will help determine the necessary equipment for the site.
Assess Soil Conditions: Test the soil to know its strength, density, and composition. Farming and construction projects typically require soil analysis to determine if the soil is even ideal for the project or certain activities. Usually, soil testing is best left to the laboratories. But if you want to do it yourself, you can buy soil testing equipment or use a soil probe for a rough test (which is not very reliable). Bear in mind that the type of soil can actually contribute to the cost of land clearing.
Check for Sensitive Areas: Depending on where you live, you should be aware of areas that require special attention, such as protected wetlands or habitats for endangered species.
Determine the Type of Vegetation: Identify the type of vegetation to be removed and the desired outcome after the land-clearing process. For example, if the goal is to clear the land for agriculture, you may need to remove stumps and roots, whereas if the goal is to build a structure, you may only need to clear the area of trees and underbrush.
Identify any Utilities: Locate any underground utilities such as gas lines, electrical wires, or water pipes. This information is essential in preventing any accidents or damages during the clearing process.
Consider the Weather: Consider the weather conditions during the clearing process. Heavy rainfall, high winds, or extreme temperatures can affect the project and may require additional precautions or adjustments to the timeline.
Land surveying is hardly a DIY undertaking, so we recommend you leave this part to the professionals. This can be a land-clearing service or a professional land surveyor.
Mark specific trees, boundaries, or areas that shouldn’t be cleared using bright paint or tape, or vice versa.
Locate your water system
For a home-building project, you need a professional to identify water connections for your well and septic systems before any land clearing is done. You want to be sure the land clearing activity wouldn’t compromise potential or existing water connections and infrastructure.
Plan how to get rid of the waste
Some land clearing companies will charge more for hauling off the brush and wood while some may include it in their base price. If you want to save money off this, consider getting loggers to take care of the trees or selling the wood as firewood. The latter depends on the types of trees in your land as not all wood is usable as firewood.
Some logging companies and firewood sellers will clear the land for you for free as long as they get to keep the wood. Depending on how mature and valuable the trees are, and how big the area is, you might even get paid by loggers.
Loggers are only a viable option if your land is big enough (usually at least 2 to 4 acres). The resources and fuel invested in clearing small plots are hardly cost-effective, so most logging companies wouldn’t even bother. Also, they typically leave a mess (scattered vegetation and stumps) for you to deal with.
Other ways you can get rid of land-clearing waste include:
Burning land-clearing waste is a serious activity that is prohibited in many states. We are a Wisconsin-based tree removal service, so we are sometimes asked by clients if it’s okay to burn the waste from land-clearing jobs. Well, it depends.
Certain parts of the tree; tree trunks, limbs, and stumps, can be burned only with methods approved by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The DNR also states that brush less than 6 inches thick may be burned only if the plants are an invasive species. There are a few more things to consider, all of which you can find in this section of the DNR website. Or you can contact the DNR’s Air Program to know which burning methods are applicable.
It’s generally not recommended, but you can bury all the organic waste; tree stumps, wood, branches, and brush on your land. You just have to be careful about burying the waste too close to a water source, as the decomposing wood can contaminate groundwater. You also have to make sure you’re not burying an invasive species or else you run the risk of spreading an infection.
Make money off the project
Sell the timber: As mentioned earlier, you can get paid by loggers who harvest the wood off your land and transport it to sawmills or lumberyards. To make the most money from your timber, learn about the current market value of the trees. Factors such as the species of the tree, the age and size, and the quality of the wood can all impact the selling price.
Rent Out the Cleared Land: You can rent out the cleared land for various purposes. For instance, if the land is located in a desirable location, it may be suitable for a cell phone tower, which can bring in a steady stream of passive income. You can also lease your land to a farmer who is looking to expand their crops.
Sell Soil: If your land has rich, desirable soil, you may find garden centers willing to buy. Reach out to nearby centers and ask if they are interested in soil delivery or pickup.