How to Clear a Wooded Backyard

cleaning backyard

Whether you have just acquired new property or need to tidy up an old one, you might find that you need to clear some of the trees, brush, rocks, and plant matter from your backyard. This can be a monumental undertaking, but with a plan in mind and the right equipment, it’s definitely doable.

In this article, we’ll discuss the basics of how to clear a wooded backyard and help you to determine when it’s a job you can undertake yourself and when to outsource it.

Start By Surveying the Environment

Before you can begin any project of this scale, you should have a firm plan in mind. But first, you should take a walk around the area, with a notepad in hand, and consider what the project will require. Are there large trees in the area that will need to be cut down and their stumps removed? What about boulders that are too heavy to simply lift and carry away? Will you want to preserve any of the existing plant life?

You will also need to take some measurements and make note of the exact size of the area you are clearing. Having this information written down will allow you to begin the planning phase by helping you figure out exactly how long the job will take, what equipment you will need, and if you’ll need to hire any extra hands for the job.

Then Sit Down and Make a Plan

You need to spend some time planning out how to clear a wooded backyard since, otherwise, the sheer size of the project might prove to be overwhelming. The absolute first step in the planning phase should be to figure out any legal aspects. You may need a permit to cut down trees and alter the environment, even if it’s on your own property. Laws vary depending on the area, so you’ll need to do some research. If you live in Portland, for example, there are specific rules about which trees can be cut down, and a permit is sometimes required. Check your city’s website for any local requirements in your area.

The next step will be to determine what, if any, equipment you will need to rent. You may have some of the necessary tools on hand, but chances are, you will need to shell out for the rental of some of the more specialized equipment, such as a stump grinder. If you’re clearing out a lot of plant matter, your normal garbage collection may not be able to carry it all away. This means that you might also need to rent a large dumpster.

Finally, determine if you can get help for the job. If you have friends who are willing to pitch in, that might be perfect. In some cases, you may need to hire a few temporary workers to come and help with the task. This can make it go much faster than if you attempt to do everything yourself.

Take Some Time to Think About Safety

Before you begin the job, make sure that everything is being done in a safe manner. This means that everyone who will be working on your property has closed-toe shoes, long pants, and safety gloves. Remember that the brush you’ll be pulling can be very thorny. If you will be cutting down any trees, even smaller ones, you’ll also need hearing and eye protection for when you operate a chainsaw.

If there are larger trees on the property that need to be removed, you’ll need to think about safety in that respect too. This means communicating clearly with everyone involved in the project: have escape routes planned for when the tree falls and make sure no one stands anywhere near the tree as it comes down. Assign at least one person to the task of lookout so that if anything unexpected happens, they can warn everyone in the area.

Start By Removing the Trees And Brush

In many cases, brush can be pulled out by hand, but if there’s a lot of it, you might also need a scythe and an axe to get the job done. The job might go even faster if you have access to the right power tools, such as a weed whacker or brush mower.

Removing brush and other small plants might be a hassle, but removing the larger trees will likely prove to be even more difficult. Utilizing the safety plan you made earlier, carefully cut notches in the trees using your chainsaw in order to guide them as they come down. Then make a felling cut on the opposite side of the tree to bring it down safely.

When it comes to larger trees, you’ll need to have a plan in place for disposing of them since they aren’t likely to fit inside the dumpster you rented. Contact a tree service such as Mr. Tree to remove logs and stumps from your property. This will save you on the cost of renting expensive specialty equipment, such as a stump grinder. Tree services like Mr. Tree can also cut the trees down for you, should you wish to avoid that step entirely.

Then Remove the Rocks and Boulders

When the plant matter has been cleared away, you can then remove the rocks and boulders. Smaller rocks can be cleared away by hand, but large boulders may be impossible to lift, even for several people working together. There are a number of methods for removing boulders that you can try. Digging underneath them and rolling them off the property sometimes works. Otherwise, you may be able to split the boulder into smaller, more manageable pieces using a rock drill bit and a hammer.

Finally, Level the Soil

The final step will be to get erosion under control by leveling the soil and compacting it with a specialized piece of equipment called—what else?—a compactor. This can prove to be another costly rental, as you’ll have to pay for insurance on the machine, as well as the cost of having it delivered to and picked up from your property.

If those costs concern you, it’s also possible to hire a lot-leveling service to do the job for you and save yourself some money and time on this front. This isn’t cheap either, but it’s often a lot simpler than attempting to perform lot leveling yourself if you don’t have easy access to the right equipment.

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