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  1. #1
    Bronze Member
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    May 2008
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    N Alabama
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    GC2600

    Default Clearing 2 acres - vines, small trees

    Hi, I'm brand new to the forum although I've been reading for a few weeks now. We just bought 2 acres of land that I want to start clearing to build a house. The land is completely wooded with mostly 12" diameter and smaller trees. There is also about 2/3 acre with very thick undergrowth, vines, thicket type stuff. The rest of the land isn't as thick. I want to pick and choose the trees I take down as there are a ton of dogwoods i want to save.

    I'm planning to buy a tractor (maybe in the 25-30hp range?) w/a FEL to clear this land. My question is:
    1.) Is this size tractor enough?
    2.) What are the techniques to use to clear the 12" and smaller trees AND to clear all the vines and thicket w/a FEL?
    3.) Should I buy a backhoe?

    The vines and thicket run from the ground up about 7'-8'. I know it would make more sense to hire a CAT to clear it all, but I want to do it myself and I want to have a good reason to buy a tractor. Any suggestions on what type of tractor are welcome as well.

  2. #2
    Elite Member teg's Avatar
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    Jul 2005
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    4,036
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    Raleigh, NC Hillsville, VA
    Tractor
    L2800.

    Default Re: What tractor/attachments for clearing 2 acres of land

    Welcome to TBN... (multiple posting will get deleted, sorry that's a rule). As to your question, Do you have a spending limit? Do you plan to turn the 2 acres into a lawn are are you planning to leave some of the bigger trees?

    My guess, would be rent a backhoe or excavator then buy a smaller tractor to maintain the property...

  3. #3
    Silver Member Slackdaddy's Avatar
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    Mar 2007
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    221
    Location
    Land of the Free
    Tractor
    Case 580superE

    Default Re: What tractor/attachments for clearing 2 acres of land

    Buy a full size backhoe to clear the trees and build the house, When You are done building, sell the Backhoe and buy a CUT to do Your landscaping.

    I got a 580E 4WD for $8000.00, I still have it, but need to sell it as the house has been done for 3 years.
    The full sized backhoe will become Your best friend, Trust Me on this one

    Slack
    CK20S
    1 Wife
    3 Kids
    16 Chickens
    lottsa guns
    No time

  4. #4
    Veteran Member Tororider's Avatar
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    Aug 2007
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    1,561
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    SE Michigan
    Tractor
    JD 4310

    Default Re: Clearing 2 acres - vines, small trees

    If you give us some more info on the type of soil and specific trees you are taking down we can probably give you better advice. That being said.

    I have a 32hp JD 4310, 28.5hp at the pto, so a similar sized tractor to what you are thinking about. I just cleared about a half acre of my property for a food plot. Most of the trees I took out were not 12", in fact I only had to pull say less than twenty stumps even close to that size so it is do-able, but if you are going to have to do a lot of trees that size it is a lot of work. On most of the bigger ones it took both my dad and I, one on the tractor pushing the stumps with the FEL and the other, normally me, on the ground with an axe watching to see where the main roots needed to be chopped out. You could do this by yourself, but if you had someone to help you it would make things infinitely easier and less time consuming. I would love a backhoe and you can find numerous threads on here talking about their usefulness. From what I have heard and read, not firsthand knowledge, a backhoe would make digging out stumps a much more manageable task, no axing sounds like a good thing to me!

    If you get a brushhog you can take care of trees about 2-3" and smaller. The brushhog would also work for the thickets but you would run into problems with the vines tangling around the blades. If the vines only run 8' high there is a possibility you could push/pull them down with the front end loader. Ours grow at least 30' into the air but are not thick so I am able to single out individual vines and tackle them that way. I think if I had to try and move a mass of vines it would be problematic.

    Hope that helps.
    Tororider
    John Deere 4310
    Frontier Finish Mower, Wallenstein Bx62 Chipper, front end pallet forks, KK 5' Rototiller

    Check out my homestead blog at www.homesteaddad.com

  5. #5
    Super Member flusher's Avatar
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    Sacramento
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    Sold the farm, sold the tractors, moved back to the city

    Default Re: What tractor/attachments for clearing 2 acres of land

    Quote Originally Posted by JMER
    Hi, I'm brand new to the forum although I've been reading for a few weeks now. We just bought 2 acres of land that I want to start clearing to build a house. The land is completely wooded with mostly 12" diameter and smaller trees. There is also about 2/3 acre with very thick undergrowth, vines, thicket type stuff. The rest of the land isn't as thick. I want to pick and choose the trees I take down as there are a ton of dogwoods i want to save.

    I'm planning to buy a tractor (maybe in the 25-30hp range?) w/a FEL to clear this land. My question is:
    1.) Is this size tractor enough?
    2.) What are the techniques to use to clear the 12" and smaller trees AND to clear all the vines and thicket w/a FEL?
    3.) Should I buy a backhoe?

    The vines and thicket run from the ground up about 7'-8'. I know it would make more sense to hire a CAT to clear it all, but I want to do it myself and I want to have a good reason to buy a tractor. Any suggestions on what type of tractor are welcome as well.

    Thank you to everyone who is able to reply. I'll post this in the projects forum as well since the questions span a couple forums.
    I'd be looking at a kubota BX24 with FEL/backhoe or equivalent. It's powerful enough (24hp engine, 17hp pto) to handle your site preparation and construction chores.

    You can detach the backhoe and get yourself a rototiller to put in your lawn. I used a Kubota B7510HST/LA302 FEL and a $300 used Yanmar RS1200 rototiller to put in lawns for my new place in 2006. Get yourself a nice riding mower for lawn maintenance, maybe a ZTR-type if you have a big lawn.

    A 4-ft rotary mower (brush hog) is fairly inexpensive ($700 or so) for mowing the rough areas. If your trees are closely spaced, maybe a flail mower is the way to go. These are used quite a bit around here in the olive and almond orchards.

  6. #6
    Elite Member Gittyup's Avatar
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    Oct 2007
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    2,901
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    Mid Atlantic
    Tractor
    Kioti CK25 Shuttle Shift, loaded tires, JD X739

    Default Re: What tractor/attachments for clearing 2 acres of land

    For the bigger trees, it depends on how many you have and what you expect the end result to be. If you want the stumps completely removed, you'll need a backhoe. If you have many (subjective, but I would think >20), I'd hire it out or get a true backhoe as Slackdaddy has suggested and then sell it after you're done for something smaller. If you only have a few, but still want the stumps completely out, it let's you justify (sorta) a backhoe attachment for a CUT. If you go this route, get a heavy tractor with good hydraulics.

    For the underbrush, you can use a bush hog and grind it all up. This assumes you can easily gain access safely with a bush hog, and the brush is not bigger than 2 or 3 inches in diameter. It'll be hard on the bush hog though.

    The other option for the brush is to use a loader with a tooth bar and/or a grapple. You can scrape the ground with the digging bar, pulling the small stuff out of the ground as you go. You'll be left with big piles of brush to dispose of. Then either burn it or shred it.

    I have similar property and have been doing the same thing. Though, I only had to remove 5 or 6 stumps. I chose a Kioti CK25 for its weight and hydraulics. I used the digging bar method to gather up under growth and then ran it through my PTO shredder attachment. I couldn't really work a bush hog in there very effectively, and wouldn't have needed it after finishing. So, I went the chipper/shredder route because I always have trimmings that need to be shredded anyway. Burning would have been hazardous because I couldn't easily get the pile to a place that was safe to burn. Also, I can only burn certain months of the year.

    In the Kioti line, the CK20 is probably a better size for 2 acres. But, I decided to forgo the HST and step up to the CK25 gear for about the same money. What swayed me was the weight difference and the hydraulics of the 25 vs. the 20. I could also get a larger backhoe, which I did.

    If you plan to use your tractor to mow a lot, you might want to think about a lighter tractor that you can add weight to. Whatever you do, don't buy too small.

  7. #7
    Silver Member yekrut's Avatar
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    May 2007
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    158
    Location
    Paris, Ohio
    Tractor
    Bolens (Iseki Deisel) G214

    Default Re: What tractor/attachments for clearing 2 acres of land

    I have cleared about 3 acres in the the last year with a Bolens 21 hp 4x4 (Brush hog and rear blade) and a kubota L39 TLB (FEL, BH, Grapple Bucket). I just purchased a box blade and landscape rake to do the finish work and maintenance. A combination of any of the previous suggestions may work best for you. It really depends on the specifics of your situation. Short term vs Long term goals, Work space, timeline, etc... L39 may be overkill for you in the long term. But a tlb would be nice. I don't like to mess with buying something with the intent to sell it when I'm done but that may work for you. Renting may as well. Renting requires more planning and weather doesn't always cooperate. I like to do things when I want for as how long I want and owning lends itself to that mind set.

  8. #8
    Super Star Member EddieWalker's Avatar
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    Tyler, Texas
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    Several, all used and abused.

    Default Re: What tractor/attachments for clearing 2 acres of land

    Two acres is a good size to handle on your own. The best tool for taking out trees is a excavator with a thumb. It's specialized and you don't have enough land to justify it. Next would be a backhoe. It's selective and doesn't destroy what you want to keep. I can take out any sized tree with mine, from saplings to massive oaks.

    After you take out the trees and brush, getting rid of them is where the real work starts. I use a chain and drag them to the burn pile. It's physical labor and it's very slow, but two acres isn't going to be too bad.

    Just about any sized CUT with a backhoe will work for this.

    A Front End Loader will also work to some degree for taking out trees, but it's hard on the machine and not very effective. Remember, taking out a tree with the root attached is ten times easier then cutting it down and digging out the stump. Never dig stumps if you can take out the entire tree.

    Hiring a dozer will create more mess then it's worth. I have a dozer and have cleared quite a bit of land with it. Cleaning up the mess that the dozer makes is a HUGE task. Pushing trees and brush to a burn pile with a dozer also moves allot of dirt. Getting rid of that burn pile after it's done is always a nightmare.

    Hiring a guy with a mulcher is probably the best way to clear land. They are pricey at $100 an hour or more, but when they are done, it's all done. For your land, you are looking at an easy one day job. For less then a grand, you could have your place looking like a park almost instantly.

    Then after they are done, you can selectively take out the bigger trees that you need to remove for your house. For this, I'd either rent a full sized backhoe, or hire it out. Again, a backhoe operator can easily take out several big trees in an hour. Not knowing your land, but knowing backhoes, I'd guess you could have an area for your house cleared in half a day. Figure $50 to $60 an hour.

    Taking out trees and clearing land is very destructive and damaging to equipment. You don't want to spend $15,000 or more on a new tractor, just to destroy it the first month that you have it.

    Once the dangerous and dificult work is done, you can still spend hundreds of hours on a new tractor cleaning it up and maintaining it.

    You will be money ahead hiring it out.

    Congratulations on your land and good luck with your project.
    Eddie

  9. #9
    Elite Member RonMar's Avatar
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    May 2005
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    Port Angeles WA
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    Jinma 284 delivered 06/28/05

    Default Re: Clearing 2 acres - vines, small trees

    If the terrain is driveable in the thickets, a brushhog would probably work on those. I drive right into them slowly(creeper gear) with the loader low forcing the debris and brush down. I also sometimes raise and lower the loader to crush the brush and small trees. Then I drive right over it. The main purpose of the loader basket is as a curb feeler, looking for stumps and debris that I don't want to go thru the brushhog. Anything up to about 3" dia I push down and drive over and let the hog shred it. You have to be aware of your surroundings though, as it can sometimes spit out some pretty large chunks of wood. You also need to prep the tractor for this type work, by covering and securing any loose hoses and wiring under the tractor.

    Another method is using a fork bucket on the tractor. I have one I built with eleven 30" tines tines spaced about 6" apart. I run this low down to the ground, with the tines parallel to the ground. As I move forward, the tines slip thru the lower brush and start to rip it out. the debris builds up on the forks and eventually I lift and back out with a bucket full of vegitation and debris and go dump it on a pile for later combustion. This has the advantage of ripping a lot of the brush out roots and all. Grapples are also andy when you start finding downed branches and such.

    Doing stumps with a loader is going to get old, real fast. I think a ripper shank on the 3PH is better for stumps up to 4"-6". I can usually rip on either side and then rip into the rootwad and lift with the 3PH to pop them out. IMO, if you have more than 10 or so 12" or better stumps, either clear around them and hire out their grinding or removal, or get a backhoe.

    Oh, and I am doing what you describe on 7.5 acres with stumps up to 30" using a 28HP 4WD tractor with backhoe, brushhog, forkbucket and ripper/subsoiler. If you are starting out small, I would stat with the fork bucket. For me, that has been about the biggest bang for the buck clearing brush.

    Good Luck
    Ron

  10. #10
    Bronze Member
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    May 2008
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    72
    Location
    N Alabama
    Tractor
    GC2600

    Default Re: Clearing 2 acres - vines, small trees

    wow. A HUGE thanks to everyone who posted such detailed information. I'm in Huntsville, AL and we have hardcore clay soil here. I will take all your suggestions into consideration. Sounds like I'll probably want to get a 30-ish hp w/backhoe and FEL (maybe fork bucket). My dad is an engineer for CNH (employee discount) so I'll probably go the Ford route in terms of tractor brand. Thanks again, and I'll be sure to update my experiences as I move forward. I'm gonna have to chew through all this info over the next few hours.

    Eddie Walker, you mentioned hiring a guy w/a chipper. How large a tree/stump can those normally handle?
    Last edited by JMER; 05-09-2008 at 06:59 PM.

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