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Land Clearing Basics

Land Clearing Basics

Land clearing is the removal of trees and other vegetation from a site to prepare another for development. It also includes grubbing, which is the excavation of tree stumps and roots. Grubbing and tree removal (as well as clearing shrubs, stumps, and other vegetation) has to be done in preparation for a new road, pipeline, or utility line.

For example, utility companies and pipeline companies use Stan’s to cut canopies, grind stumps, and make pipes and utilities accessible to their workers and equipment.

Some basic terms you’ll hear in land clearing services include:

1. “Clearing” is cutting down trees and brush.

2. “Grubbing” is clearing roots and stumps by digging or grinding.

3. “Scalping” is removing the remaining roots, sod, grass, and other vegetation to expose the soil. This does not include removing topsoil.

Think about erosion

Land clearing should minimize off-site erosion and sedimentation and sediment discharges to lakes, streams, or wetlands. The best land clearing practices include steps to prevent erosion, particularly on sites with steep slopes. Sites with fine, dense soils (silt or clay, for example) may be less susceptible to erosion (because they are more cohesive), but if erosion happens, the soil particles are more challenging to remove from runoff, which means contaminated streams and lakes nearby.

Stump Grinding

Think about nearby bodies of water

Other land clearing practices that take the local ecosystem into account include creating a riparian buffer, a vegetated buffer area near a stream to protect it from adjacent land uses. These buffers improve water quality in streams, rivers, and lakes by keeping them shaded. This keeps water temperature stable, protecting the fish and other animals that live there.

What about permits?

Trees and shrubs can be cut by hand without a permit, but stump removal in some areas requires a permit.

What does it cost?

Land clearing prices depend on the following factors:

The condition and size of your property. Is it flat or hilly? Is it grassy or heavily wooded?

The local market. Clearing costs more in some parts of the country, less in others.

Local environmental regulations. Are permits and zoning variances needed?

How the debris cleared will be removed. For example, will it be burned or does it have to be hauled away?

The total amount of land being cleared and accessibility.

Whether or not grading (leveling) needs to be done. This is often a requirement if the property is being cleared in advance of construction.

What does land clearing cost?

According to, hiring an excavation company to clear flat land with little vegetation “might cost $20-$200 per acre,” whereas; clearing sloping land with overgrown brush “might cost $500-$2,000 per acre” and heavily wooded land might cost $3,000-$6,000.

If it’s a huge tree, Stan’s will cut it, then grind it. When we grub a tree you won’t even know it was there.

“No one else has our grubbers,” says Liz Todd, of Stan’s. “We have modified our buggies with a power pack to increase the power of the Bobcat.”

If you’re dealing with one or two stumps, you can use a small stump grinder to remove a small stump, and it shouldn’t cost too much to rent one for the day. But if you’re looking at a field of stumps that need to be grinded, it’s smarter to call Stan’s instead.

Why not do it yourself?

You might be tempted to do your clearing yourself. Most people find the cost of land clearing equipment rental makes this not worth it. Renting a backhoe, for example, can cost $100-$350 a day, and clearing your land can take a lot longer than you planned for.

Safety first!

Grubbing and land clearing requires a contractor that is focused on safety. Stan’s Airboat and Marsh Excavator Service has a safety consultant on retainer to ensure that we meet all ISNet World and OSHA requirements. Our operators are NCCER Certified in Excavating and Backfilling as well as LPG Abnormal Operating Conditions and Probing.

Stan’s can clear trees, shrubs, stumps, and logs from the right-of-way so utility companies and pipeline companies can do what needs to be done. When we grub a wooded area, we’re thorough and professional. Contact us now to learn more!

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