Land Clearing Basics – What Does It Mean To Clear And Grub Something

Land Clearing Basics – What Does It Mean To Clear And Grub Something

By: Amy Grant

Have you ever wondered what the land your home sits on usedto look like? Chances are, it looked nothing like it currently does now.Clearing and grubbing a landscape is the first order of business for adeveloper. What is clearing and grubbing? This refers to land clearing basicsperformed by anyone who has purchased undeveloped land they wish to develop.How about clearing land yourself? Will it require clearing and grubbing?

What Does it Mean to Clear and Grub?

Once a site has been surveyed and any necessary demo hasbeen done, vegetation and surface debris are removed by clearing and grubbingthe landscape. Clearing means what it sounds like, removing all vegetation.Grubbing refers to the removal of the roots that remain in the soil afterclearing.

Grubbing removes logs, brush, and debris. Stumpsare then ground or removed with a root rake or similar machine. This requiressome heavy machinery such as a bulldozer, dump trucks, compactors, andscrapers. Once these land clearing basics are complete, the site is ready fordrain installation and grading.

Land Clearing Basics

What about clearing land yourself? This commonly happenswhen homeowners decide to increase the size of their backyard space or evenwhen adding a new garden area. If you have a small plot of land to clear withjust a few trees and/or shrubs, it may simply only take a day and a few tools,such as a shoveland hand saw.

For larger areas, the big toys may need to come out. Theseinclude chain saws, bulldozers, backhoes, or other large equipment. You mayneed to hire a company that specializes in clearing and grubbing a landscape ifthe job seems too large.

Before you start to clear and grub your property, check withyour local government regarding permits. You may need a permit to not onlyclear the land but to dispose of timber. Rules may apply regarding compostingand tree removal. There may be additional guidelines regarding protecting theenvironment or certain species.

You will also want to check with the local utility companiesto find out about possible lines on the property. If you end up having usabletimber, save it if possible, as you may be able to use it on the project orsell it.

If you are removing trees yourself, consider the process.One way to remove them is to take the tree down to a 3-foot (under a meter)stump and then push the stump out of the ground with a dozer. This methodremoves the roots from the ground, thus the tree cannot regrow.

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5 Tools For Clearing Overgrown Land

Whether you’re expanding your lawn, caring for overgrown fields and meadows, or blazing new trails through woodlands, clearing overgrown land can be a daunting task. What was once clean, open land can quickly become a tangled mess covered with brush, woody saplings, and tough weeds. But where to start? How to even begin to attack the mess and turn it into the clear space that you want? Start with the right tools. These are 5 of our favorites here at DR – tools that are easy to use, get the job done like a champ, and are even fun to use.

The big, bad brush mower

For clearing most large areas overgrown land, a brush mower is your best bet. Choose a walk-behind (also known as ‘self-propelled’) model for walkable areas, and a tow-behind model (often called a ‘brush hog’) for really large fields and meadows. These machines are real beasts in the field, chopping through saplings 3″ thick and not even pausing at tough weeds and grasses. Most people who use a brush mower for the first time are shocked at how powerful they are and how much fun they are to use. It’s a lot of power – all in your hands and ready to rock!

Uproot saplings with a Brush Grubber

Say you want to remove just one sapling here and there, or a small section of brush. You probably don’t need a whole brush mower, but a lawn mower or chainsaw won’t quite do the trick. The Brush Grubber is a set of metal jaws with spikes that dig into a small tree or stump. A chain is attached to the other end, and you use your truck, ATV, or tractor to pull out that unwanted tree by its roots. The harder you pull, the harder the jaws grip the tree. Available in 4 different sizes, the Brush Grubber is the best way to take care of one sapling at a time – gone forever because there is no root left to regrow.

Beef up your string trimmer

String trimmers, either the walk-behind type or the handheld type, are great for cleaning up fence lines and clearing thin weeds and grasses. For heavier-duty brush clearing, though, there are ways to turn your string trimmer into an even more powerful machine. Add the DuraBlades kit to your DR Trimmer/Mower to turn it into a brush cutter that can take down woody brush up to 3/8″ thick. Or, add the Beaver Blade attachment to either your DR Trimmer/Mower or to a handheld string trimmer, turning it into a sapling- and brush-cutting dynamo. The Beaver Blade slices easily through saplings as thick as 3″. A string trimmer is much more than just a light weed trimmer when you add these power-packed accessories!


Case Study: Clearing and Grubbing 10 Acres for Highway Development and Planning

Loganville Interchange (PA Route 83)

Kinsley ConstructionLoganville, York County, Pennsylvania

Kinsley Construction needed a right of way clearing contractor for grubbing approximately 10 acres of land for a new highway. Brubacher was selected for the project for a few reasons, one of which is that we are PennDOT prequalified as a subcontracting expert in clearing land for highway projects.

Over the course of two weeks, we worked closely with Kinsley Construction to ensure the proper traffic control as we cleared rubbish and trees. We worked on steep slopes along the shoulder of Route 83 -- a potentially dangerous job for a right of way clearing contractor without our level of expertise and fleet of specialized equipment.

One of the biggest challenges for this project was making sure the correct barriers and traffic patterns were in place before we cleared trees. Our full-time land clearing team's attention to detail ensured trees were cleared safely and efficiently, despite the obstacles.

In addition to providing grubbing services for right of way clearing projects like this, Brubacher's land clearing team provides these services for a variety of other applications. Our combination of extensive experience and commitment to safety sets us apart from other land clearing contractors.

For more examples of land clearing projects Brubacher has completed take a look at our results.


Try Our Free Site Preparation and Clearing Quote Request Tool

Tell us some details about your needs and get connected to pre-screened companies in your area. Compare free price quotes from multiple companies and save time and money instantly! No obligations to hire or purchase ever!

Choosing a Contractor

Site preparation is a crucial part of the construction process, so it’s important to choose the right contractor. You could run into serious problems down the road if the land has not been properly graded and prepared.

  • Ask people you trust for referrals. Who did they use for site preparation, and were they satisfied with the work? Was the job completed on time and under budget? You can ask friends for referrals, or you can talk to trusted builders or real estate professionals.
  • Do some background research on any company you’re considering. Check the company’s track record with consumer organizations like the Better Business Bureau. Ask for references - and actually check them.
  • Ask for proof that the company is licensed, bonded and insured. A company that is not licensed is operating illegally, so that’s a major red flag. A bond protects you from financial loss if the contractor goes belly up or does not finish the project. And insurance guarantees that you are not liable for any accidents that occur on the property during site preparation.


Common Questions and Answers About Gardening Tools

Can you edge with a shovel?

Yes, you can edge grass with a shovel. Use spray paint or a garden hose to mark the edges of your lawn. If you need to make the line perfectly straight, drive two stakes into the corners of the lawn and tie a string between them just above ground level. Cut an edge four to six inches deep along the edge you’ve marked. The best shovel to use is an edging shovel, as it is made for edging work and will make the cleanest cut. However, you can also use a digging shovel, flat shovel, or garden spade. Slice underneath the sod at the edge to cut the roots of the grass, and pry the grass up with your shovel. Load the removed chunks of sod into a wheelbarrow to be disposed of. Using a rake, smooth out the bare ground where grass has been removed, cleaning up any remaining pieces of grass or debris. Every two weeks during the growing season, do maintenance on the edge you’ve created to prevent grass from growing back into the bare soil and keep the edge clean.

Do you edge before or after mowing?

Professionals are divided in their opinions as to whether edging should be done before or after mowing, and most of them say that the landscaping process takes about the same time no matter which order the work is done in. However, if you mow first, then do edging, you reduce the likelihood of ruining your edging work when you go back over it with the mower.

How big is a shovel?

There are a variety of shovel lengths out there on the market, so it’s important to choose the correct length for you when you purchase a shovel. The standard shovel shaft length is 28 inches, making the entire shovel including the handle and blade about 48 inches long. Depending on the size of the shovel blade, this standard shaft size is suited for people between five feet five inches and five feet nine inches tall. People taller than five feet nine inches should shop for shovels with shafts that are longer than 32 inches. People shorter than five feet five inches should use a shovel with a shaft that is 26 inches or shorter.

There’s a simple trick you can use to determine whether a shovel is the right size for you. Stand the shovel up on its end, balancing the shovel on the tip of the blade. The top of the shovel handle grip should be level with your lower chest if the shovel is properly sized for your height. Using a shovel that’s at least tall enough to stand level with your lower chest prevents you from having to stoop over when you’re working, saving you the back pain that can go along with an inappropriately sized shovel.

How deep should garden edging be?

The area you cut for garden edging should be about four to six inches wide and six inches deep. If you will be installing flagstone or concrete pavers along your edge, make sure to cut the edging area at least six inches wide to match the size of your specific stones.

How do you keep a pick mattock?

It’s easy to perform maintenance on your pick mattock by yourself. Maintain the edges of the adze and axe ends of the mattock to keep them sharp by using either a grinder or a hand file. Make sure to file out any dents or chips in the blade and keep the edges clear of any burrs. The axe cutting edge should be kept ground to a sharper finish than the adze cutting edge. If the head of the mattock becomes loose and the mattock has a wooden handle, soak the handle in water for half an hour. Soaking will cause the wood of the handle to swell up, tightening the handle where it connects to the shaft. This trick only works with mattocks that have wooden handles and only lasts for about half an hour until the handle dries out and shrinks again. However, soaking the mattock will resolve the problem long enough for you to complete your work until you can replace or repair the mattock. If the wooden handle of your mattock develops splinters, you can fix them by sanding the handle down. However, if the handle splits, the mattock must be replaced. A mattock is damaged beyond repair and must be replaced if the handle is split, cracked, or broken, or if either the axe or the adze end of the mattock gets bent. A mattock that is taken care of well should last for several years of work.

How often should I edge my lawn?

On average, most people do their edging once per year at the end of June, after the peak growing season has ended for their lawn. However, for an extremely well manicured lawn, you can edge twice a year: once in early June and once in late August.

How old is the shovel?

Humans have been using shovels for as long as people have been gardening. Archaeological evidence from the Neolithic Age (10,000 B.C. to 3,000 B.C.) shows that early gardeners worked with the shoulder blades of oxen, which they used to perform tasks such as burying their dead, moving materials such as rocks and soil, and digging for food. Before the Middle Ages began, Cherokee Indians were already attaching the shoulder blades or pelvic bones from large animals to sticks three or four feet long with deer ligaments or leather straps to make an early version of the moden shovel.

How long is a shovel handle?

Shovel handles are available in varying lengths, and people should be careful to select the correct length when they purchase a shovel so they’re as comfortable as possible when working in the garden. The standard shaft length of 28 inches makes a shovel that fits people between five feet five inches and five feet nine inches tall (depending on the size of the blade). The standard length for the entire shovel, shaft and blade included, is around 48 inches. People taller than five feet nine inches should use a shovel with a shaft of 32 inches or longer. People shorter than five feet five inches should use a shovel with a shaft that’s 26 inches or shorter.

What are the basic tools for gardening?

The very basics for gardening would probably include a digging tool like a spade, trowel or fork, a cutting tool like pruners, and gloves to protect your hands. Want to go a little bit deeper than that? Here are a few additional garden tool options for beginner gardeners to consider.

  • Arm protectors
  • Clearing tools
  • Cobrahead weeding tool
  • Digging fork
  • Digging shovel
  • Edging spade
  • Garden hose with multi-pattern sprayers
  • Garden rake
  • Gardening apron
  • Gardening journal
  • Heavy-duty leather gloves
  • Hoe
  • Hori hori digging tool
  • Latex-coated cotton gloves
  • Leaf rake
  • Loppers
  • Pruners
  • Pruning saw
  • Scissors
  • Shears
  • Trowel
  • Weeder
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Washable synthetic gloves

What can I use for garden edging?

The best tool to use for garden edging is an edging shovel, but if you don’t have an edging shovel, you can use a digging shovel, flat shovel, or garden spade instead.

What does a garden spade look like?

A spade has a flattened, rectangular blade on the end of a short handle that’s about four feet long. The handle of a garden spade may be flat, or it can be or U-shaped or T-shaped. The handle should be made out of hardwood and may have a non slip rubber coating. Blades are commonly made of carbon, hammered steel, or stainless steel.

What is a cutter mattock used for?

The vertical blade of a cutter mattock, called the axe end, is what gardeners use to chop through roots in the ground. The large horizontal blade of a cutter mattock, called the adze end, is what gardeners use to move earth and soil, such as when digging trenches. A pick mattock has a pick that is used to break up stones, rocks, or areas of hard soil. Claw mattocks have a claw on the end that is used for digging up weeds and cultivating the ground.

What is a fishtail weeder?

A fishtail weeder, also called an asparagus knife, is a tool with a long, narrow shaft, allowing gardeners to use the weeder to get deep into the soil and work across long distances. The fishtail weeder has a sharp blade shaped like an upside-down V (or a fish tail) that is used to remove roots stuck in the ground or to carve out weeds. Some fishtail weeders feature ergonomic design or fulcrums to make weeding with the tool even easier.

What is a flat shovel called?

Flat shovels are often referred to as spades. However, some digging shovels have flat blades as well.

What is a garden pick used for?

A garden pick is used for a variety of tasks, such as digging trenches, breaking up rocky soil, and clearing out ditches.

What is a garden spade best for?

A garden spade is one of the most commonly used tools in a gardener’s arsenal. Use your garden spade in contouring, cultivation, terracing, and working on drainage. The spade is not meant for heavy-duty earth moving, but instead is used for lighter cultivation tasks, such as cutting sod, preparing and reshaping beds, mixing in amendments, or digging planting holes. You can also find specialized garden spades for transplanting or making borders.

What is a grub axe?

A grub axe is a term used to refer to a mattock, which is a hand tool gardeners use to clear ground or to dig up roots and shrubs. A mattock has two blades: the axe blade, or the vertical end used to chop through roots underground, and the adze blade, or the large horizontal end used to dig trenches or move earth and soil.

What is a grub hoe?

A grubbing hoe is sometimes called an azada and is used in gardening to dig and till soil. Grub hoes are light to moderate in weight and are used for gardening tasks such as digging trenches, removing root pieces, killing weeds and roots, moving rocks, and chopping through sod. Blades for grub hoes are available in a variety of shapes and widths.

What is an Irish shovel?

An Irish shovel is designed for use in heavy soil that is hard to penetrate in areas where cultivating the land is difficult. It has a long blade with a pointed tip that is wide at the shoulder. The blade measures between 10 and 14 inches, and the extra long shaft measures from 48 to 72 inches.

What is a scoop shovel?

A scoop shovel is also called a trowel or a soil scoop. It is a hand tool with a pointed, curved scoop blade that resembles a long, narrow shovel. Scoop shovels are most frequently used to dig holes for planting seedlings or transplants in the garden. Larger scoop shovels have a wide, flat blade with raised sides to make it easier for the gardeners to pick up piles of earth or whatever material they are moving. In addition to piles of earth, these large scoop shovels may be used to move large amounts of any material, such as grain, feed, or manure.

What is a sharpshooter shovel?

A sharpshooter shovel has a long, narrow blade and is used to open deep, narrow holes with small diameters in any kind of soil, even hard rocky earth. Sharpshooter shovels may also be referred to as tile shovels or transplanting spades. These shovels are mainly used for digging and the creation of holes, but they can move a little bit of earth, as when moving soil out of holes and trenches. The narrow, round point of the blade is designed to make it easy to penetrate hard earth or rocky layers of dirt. The holes created by a sharpshooter shovel are often used for transplanting, planting shrubs or saplings, or digging narrow trenches like those used for drainage and utility lines.

What is a shovel used for?

Shovels are used for digging into the ground and moving loose, granular materials such as dirt, gravel, grain, or snow from one location to another. A shovel consists of a handle and shaft with a wide, flat blade attached to it, though blade sizes and shapes can vary greatly depending on the shovel’s variety and design, which are determined by what the shovel will be used for.

What is a skinny shovel called?

Skinny shovel varieties include trench shovels, tree planting shovels, sharpshooter shovels, drain spades, root shovels, Dixter trowels, and planting trowels.

What is a small shovel?

Small shovels used in gardening are called trowels.

What is a spade for gardening?

Spades look similar to shovels, but a spade is shorter than a shovel and has a flat blade, while shovels have curved blades and are longer. A spade is used to dig trenches, cut into sod, or edge areas of grass.

What is a tile shovel?

Tile shovels are also referred to as transplanting spades or sharpshooter spades. They have long, narrow blades and are used to create deep, narrow holes with a small diameter. Tile shovels are especially used in hard dirt, rocky soil, or sod. They may be used to create holes to plant saplings or shrubs, or they may be used to dig trenches for drainage or utility lines. Tile shovels are really designed to make a hole and not to move earth, but they can be used to move a small amount, such as when soil is lifted up and out of a hole.

What is a trenching shovel?

Trenching shovels have sharp blades with pointed tips and raised, square sides. These tools are used to dig trenches, and they create holes with straight walls without much disruption of the surrounding soil.Trenching shovels are often used for laying irrigation pipes, digging compost trenches, or digging holes for plants that have especially deep roots.

What is a trowel used for?

Trowels in masonry are used to spread mortar and plaster, but trowels have different uses in the garden. Gardening trowels are used for digging small holes, such as those created when planting annuals, perennials, and bulbs. Trowels are not large enough to easily dig holes for trees or shrubs. Trowels are also used to dig up weeds.Trowel blades vary in size and shape and variations can be found that may be flat, wide, or scoop-shaped.

What is a weeder tool?

A weeder is a small, handheld gardening tool about the size of a trowel with a short handle attached to a long, thin metal pole that has two forking tines around one inch long in a V shape on one end. Some weeder tools come equipped with a fulcrum, which adds leverage to make it easier for gardeners to use the tool to pull weeds out of the ground.

What is another name for a pickaxe?

A pickaxe may also be called a pick or railroad pick. A pick mattock is a similar tool that has a pointed end with a pick on it and another end with a broad, flat axe blade.

What is the difference between a pick and a mattock?

A pick consists of a handle with a pointed end, or a double-edged pointed end. Some picks have one end that is more pointy and another that is flatter. A similar tool is the pick mattock, which has one pointed end with a pick and one broader, flatter end with an axe. A mattock or cutter mattock, as opposed to a pick mattock, has one end with an axe and one larger, horizontal blade called the adze.

What is the difference between a spade and a shovel?

Spades are for digging jobs, while shovels are for scooping. There is an angle between the handle and blade of a shovel while the angle of the spade is nearly straight from handle to blade. Shovels are usually much larger than spades. Though the two tools look very similar, the spade is shorter than the shovel, with a flat blade, while the shovel is longer and uses a curved blade. Spades are used to dig trenches, to cut into sod, or to edge areas of grass. Spades are used for digging in the ground, whereas shovels are used for scooping and moving soil and debris from one area to another.

What tools do I need to start a garden?

Starting a garden is a pretty simple task, but there are some tools that you will need to start gardening efficiently. Many of these tools can be purchased for a very reasonable price or can even be passed down from an experienced gardener. Once you have these tools in your arsenal, you are ready to take on any regular gardening task, from building a garden bed to amending your soil, or planting crops for an upcoming growing season.

  • Arm protectors
  • Clearing tools
  • Cobrahead weeding tool
  • Digging fork
  • Digging shovel
  • Edging spade
  • Garden hose with multi-pattern sprayers
  • Garden rake
  • Gardening apron
  • Gardening journal
  • Heavy-duty leather gloves
  • Hoe
  • Hori hori digging tool
  • Latex-coated cotton gloves
  • Leaf rake
  • Loppers
  • Pruners
  • Pruning saw
  • Scissors
  • Shears
  • Trowel
  • Weeder
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Washable synthetic gloves

Want to learn more about gardening tools?

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Watch the video: Clearing With The Dozer