Let’s face it, we live in a lush and plentiful land where trees and weeds can quickly overgrow and become unruly. Clearing land in Middle Tennessee can be a major job. It’s crucial that you ask the right questions before you start attempting tree removal and land clearing. Here is what you should know and how we handle our work at Nothing But Chips.
What machine should I use for tree removal and land clearing?
I need to clear an overgrown woods. What machine should I use? First of all, this depends on several factors.
1. The first question is are you planning on doing it yourself? Or hiring a contractor?
2. Are you taking out 100% of the trees or just the smaller underbrush and dead or damaged trees?
3. Are you wanting to remove all the stumps?
4. Do you have a way of disposing of the material removed, for example, can you burn or bury the trees? Or do you have a place on your property where trees, limbs brush can be piled up for several years until nature does its thing and it rots away. (I did this on my farm in Indiana in 1974 and most of the stumps are still there.)
5. Can you burn? (there are many cities and counties that burning is prohibited.)
6. Is the land to be cleared on flat ground or rolling where there will be an erosion problem once the dirt is disturbed?
7. What is your intended use of the land once it’s cleared …..building, recreational, farming, grass area for a yard, pasture…….?
8. What is the soil and soil type?
9. Is the land rocky…are there other types of debris?
Primary types of land clearing equipment and how they are used.
Bulldozer. Machines that are designed to push and work slightly below ground level.
Track hoe. Machines that are designed to work deep below ground level.
Backhoe. Machines that that are designed to do both with limitations.
Forestry equipped skid steer. Machines that are designed to work best above ground level.
Now let’s take a look at two primary challenges in land clearing
1. How to get the tree down.
2. Now that it is down…what do we do with it?
Pretty simple right? Well, again that depends. Let’s say you decide to use a large bulldozer. In order for the bulldozer to get the tree down, the first thing that has to happen is to cut the root system of the tree. This requires moving a lot of dirt just to get to the roots. The tree then is pushed over with the dozer. Tree down…. problem solved, but now you have created five more problems.
- You have a big hole where the tree was standing. This now has to be filled in with dirt taken from somewhere.
- You have created an erosion problem with all the loose dirt.
- If there were trees nearby that you wanted to keep, there is a high likelihood they would be damaged by the fallen tree.
- Now, what do you do with the 40-60 foot tree? It didn’t take up much room when it was vertical with about a 3-foot circle, but it’s now horizontal on your property taking up about 800 square feet. Yikes!
- Assuming you don’t want it left there…. How do you get it to a location where you can burn, bury or haul it away without damaging everything in it path? If the pile is far this becomes very time consuming and messy as limbs break off during transit to the pile. Now that it’s to the pile, what do you do with the pile?
As you can see, there are consequences for every action taken. What appeared to be two simple problems has turned into a major ordeal. A bulldozer, track hoe, or backhoe, will all leave you with these problems.
What is a Skidsteer?
An alternative would be to use a skidsteer. The skidsteer was invented in 1958 and had a 9hp engine. Luckily, today skidsteers can have a powerful 100hp engine. Some have tracks like a bulldozer except they use rubber. On some skidsteers the tracks are designed to put less pressure per square inch (think compaction) than walking on it.
Not all skidsteers are created equally. The nifty thing about skidsteers is that many different attachments and implements can easily be changed out quickly in a matter of minutes. By far the most popular skidsteer are the smaller machines 40 to 60 hp. But they simply are not big enough to handle big trees and general forestry work.
Special skidsteers and special attachments specifically for forestry work are manufactured. Not very many of them are sold because they are so specialized and extremely expensive.
Let’s get back to our original conundrum. How do we get the tree down? What do we do with it once it is down?
Here is how we help our customers
I like to approach all jobs with the outcome in mind. In my own land clearing jobs, I focus on working quickly, efficiently, and affordably to best serve my clients. I begin by thinking outside of the box on every job. Here’s how I might handle the above situation for you.
I would consider taking the tree down in two pieces rather than one. First, we would take the top of the tree down. Now we only have half as much on the ground as we would have using the bulldozer. The base trunk of the tree is still standing and the likelihood of damaging other good trees has been reduced dramatically.
Thinking outside the box again… why take anything to pile to deal with later? Let’s just chip up the top of the tree where it lays…and not move it at all. Once it is chipped up using the skid steer and special equipment (which only takes minutes), the problem is gone. The top of the tree is gone in less time than using a bulldozer. Now we have the main tree trunk (log) and stump to deal with.
How to Remove a Tree Stump
There are two options for tree stump removal to consider.
1. Using a special attachment, we chip the tree trunk while it is still standing. So the tree trunk (log) never hits the ground, instead, it becomes nothing but chips. 😉
2. Using a different special attachment called a tree shear, we simply shear the tree off at the ground (this takes about 10 seconds). Once the log is on the ground the tree can be sheared into smaller logs and used for firewood, or the log can be left in one piece and sold to make lumber.
3. If you want to save the log we will get it out of the woods without damaging the other good trees. This is where the skidsteer machine shines, a bulldozer just couldn’t do this successfully. The tree shear attachment has the ability to literally pick the log up, stand it back up, and carry it out of the woods to site where the logs can be neatly stacked for sale. Or we might use a different special attachment called a grapple that can grapple the log sideways or lengthways. Since the skidsteer is so nimble and fast it can wiggle in and out of some of the toughest spots by weaving through the woods. Plus, it can travel at twice the MPH of a conventional bulldozer so travel time is reduced.
Now, what do we do with the stump?
Our least invasive is to chip it up a few inches below ground level. The stump can be removed using yet another special attachment for the skidsteer the slides under the stump cutting the roots. The stump is then lifted out and carried away or it too can then be chipped.
The best way to deal with land clearing selective tree removal is to try not to move the tree to another location. Chip it up where it originally stood. This leaves less damage to the land, more good trees, and it will cost less money to do the job.
Do you have land that needs clearing in Middle Tennessee? We would love to visit your property to provide you with a free quote.