Cost of clearing land-dozer

   / Cost of clearing land-dozer #1  


New member
Mar 10, 2006
Eastern Oklahoma
Massey 285
I have learned the hard way that it is not easy work clearing land by hand. I have a tractor(Massey 285 with fel) but I have learned that clearing alot of trees with a tractor is hard on both tractor and operator. Both experience and time are factors here and I would like to see some results on the property. I've got the ok from the boss to take our tax money and clear off 15-20 acres of our property(at least get started with that money).

Let me tell you about my property. The 15-20 acres (I have a total of 80) I'm talking about were originally cleared off in 1962 so now the trees that are there now are approximately 8-10 inches in diameter. Mainly oak, hickory and some sycamore and lots of scrub brush. I don't have a picture but I guess it is your standard overgrown field with 50 years of growth. It is on level ground so no slopes involved. This will just be pasture so it doesn't have to look like a golf course when its done.

My question is can anyone give me a ballpark on how many hours this should take. I have asked around and dozer work in my area runs from $80-100 hour depending on dozer size. I have also asked for recommendations on operators in our area and I am meeting with one this friday. He has a D-6.

This is an open ended question with many variables but do you think an operator can finish it in 5,10,15 days.....more with a mid sized dozer(D-6)? I would like to have some idea before I turn someone loose. My wallet depends on it!

Thanks for your help. I enjoy watching projects on this site and I will post pictures of mine when I get started.
   / Cost of clearing land-dozer #2  
The hourly rate sounds about right, even for down here. I would also consider a D-6 a large dozer. One that might have problems with wet areas because of the weight.

It's all in the operator. If he knows what he's doing, it'll get done faster and will look better. If he's a hack, well you know the rest.

Are you going to puck up the stumps, etc? Some loggers cut them flush where you can still mow over them. The trees you describe would be easy to push over and/or cut. But if you push them out you are going to be left with holes that will need to be filled.

Whoever you pick I bet even the untrained eye can see what sort of driver he is in less than an hour.

Good Luck,

Pic of a friends D-6.


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   / Cost of clearing land-dozer #3  
We had 3.5 acres clear cut - mostly mixed hardwood. The tops, limbs and trash trees were left. Quotes were around $2000/acre for clearing (pushing trash to the edges) and rooting out stumps. They were going to use a dozer and a track hoe. This was right after Rita went through so prices may be less now.

My dad and I ended up renting a dozer and going it alone and getting 2+ acres done. Even counting my lost wages (self-employed) we were money ahead and were able to grade the driveway and cut pads for the barn and house - none of which were included in the clearing quote. It took the better part of a day to get 'good' at popping the stumps out but it's a skill we now posses. We used 58 hours of clock time over 6 days. Rented a D4. Call around - prices varied wildly in our area and the guys we finally used (Mustang Cat) substituted a D4 for the D3 we requested and thanked us for our cooperation. That's the kind of hardship I can handle.
   / Cost of clearing land-dozer #4  
There's a coupld of varibles that you didn't mention and probably don't know. How many trees per acre makes a big difference. A good sized dozer in the D6 range or bigger is perfect for this. The problem is that the smaller trees will come right out, but the larger ones will take a minute or two. Once they are on the ground, the real work begins.

Taking out trees is easy. Getting rid of 12 to 15 acres worth of trees is a HUGE job. Can you burn them? Can you have multiple burn piles? If he's moving trees all over 12 to 15 acres to a burn pile, he's spending hours and hours just driving back to the trees, or running empty.

My dad and I spent a couple months clearing 7 acres of every tree there. Some were huge, and others were just sapplings. The large trees came out faster with the bachoe, but getting them to the burn pile required the dozer. We took out thousands of trees and had to burn every one. We took them out hole and had the stumps still on them Once the fire is going good, everything will burn, but it's also quite a fire.

A bigger dozer would be faster and even though you pay more per hour, you get so much more done in an hour that your saving money overall.

A trackhoe is ideal for taking out trees and putting them in the burn pile, but terrible at getting them to the pile. I deally, you'd want a trackhoe taking them out. A skidder for getting them to the pile and a dozer for pushing them into the pile and smoothing out the land.

You might save money have a crew come in and do it all in one week versus one guy trying to do everything.

Older machines break down all the time. If the guy has an older dozer, keep looking. Odds are very good that he'll break something and it might take days, weeks, or even longer to get it fixed. I know a guy who has a Case 1150 dozer that's been down for a year now. His mechanic only works on it when he's off his regular job and that's not often.

I know other guys who break down and charge you the hours to repair it. Be sure you agree that down time is not paid for time.

Be sure to keep a daily record of hours. Lots of guys are honest, but allot will also pad there hours or just plain out lie about it. If they get ther at 8am, but don't start the dozer until 10am, then you shouldn't pay for there hours from 8am. They also tend to work short days. Don't rely on them to write down when they stoped for the day. If they start trying to figure out hours a week later, they always remember that it was an 8 hour day. Even if they never ran a tractor that long a single day in there life, it's always 8 hours in there minds. I've heard of allot worse, so just be observant and keep your own records. Let the operator and/or owner of the equipment know that you are keeping track too. Most won't mind and it lets them know right off that they need to be honest in what they bill you.

It might be better to only do 3 or 4 acres a year. Get it cleared and planted in one year, then do it again the following year. 12 to 15 acres is allot of land to do all at once.

Good luck,
   / Cost of clearing land-dozer #5  
I'm sure it depends on where your at but the price here for a similar wooded area is 700.00/ac cleared, piled and burned. At least it was last March.
   / Cost of clearing land-dozer #6  
I don't know how many 8-10" trees you have per acre, but if the majority are less than 6'', you may consider someone that operates a timberax/bullhog. These folks can mulch everything pretty quickly, and charge somewhere in the $125/hour least in the NW.

I had my property quoted by several of these folks, and the prices were all the same. They were concerned about the larger material, so I've been spending my weekends focused on that. I've completed the removal/piling of roughly 65% of the stuff that the bullhog couldn't handle, and when I'm done...I'm turning him lose for 3 days. I'll still have 15 (or so) burn piles of larger material when he's done, but everything will be cleared.

You can search the threads for mulching, bullhog, ASV, etc.., and get in contact w/ some of these people. The machines are amazing.
   / Cost of clearing land-dozer #7  
I'll suggest the mulching route for I own one. The dozer route is leaving out a major pricing area. The removal ot the trees. If the disired result is them gone you can sell them. If not to tub grind them will cost a fortune. I have never burned piles of trees so I have no opinion there.

Mulching everything would be the simplist solution. The only catch is the material you described is a bit large for most mulchers running ASV and such like kubota said. But there is an alternative. Find a mulching company that has a larger mulcher. It will be a fecon, rayco, or supertrak of roughly 130 hp or so. These tractors will easily handle the job and can grind the stumps below grade a couple inches or so. A tractor of that size will be slightly more an hour but with the ability to deal with the whole tree stump and all every hour worked will result in usable acreage as soon as the tractor is done.

Most mulching companies with equipment of this size can give you an by acre price or how many acres than can do on your budget.

I hope this gives you some options. Robbie
   / Cost of clearing land-dozer #8  
About the only thing you can do in a situation like this is to pick out somebody who strikes you as relatively honest and has a fairly new machine. Agree on an hourly rate and put him out there for as long as you can stand it. I believe most operators will invariably underestimate the amount of time it will take to do a given job. I'm not saying they are dishonest, but it is just human nature to err on the positive side when making plans. I would have quit farming 10 years before I did if that wern't true.:D

I would suggest that you have the operator put the pushed up material in windrows rather than trying to make one big burn pile. Windrows about 100 yards apart would mean that he would have to move the material no more than fifty yards. A good operator with a machine with a root-rake can windrow material surprisingly fast. You can plant your pasture between the windrows and work on burning them out over a period of a few years. I know of several good looking pastures around here that were done that way.

If you are wanting a pasture for livestock you might consider leaving some of the biggest trees and even a few areas in fairly thickly wooded condition. This will give the stock some loafing areas for hot weather and provide some windbreaks for cold weather. Every tree the operator doesn't have to take down is time saved.

As far as guessing how many days it will take a D6 to clear that much land, I would guess a whole lot closer to 20 than 5. Of course, that depends on how thick the woods are to begin with. You must also consider the fact that while I have had a fair amount of this kind of work done over the years, I really don't know what I'm talking about.:)

Good Luck
   / Cost of clearing land-dozer #9  
Whatever you decide to do, please post some pics of the before, during and after!
   / Cost of clearing land-dozer #10  
Can you sell the trees? Even if you only get a few hundred dollars per acre it would be something and that much less of a mess to deal with.

The idea of putting the trees in a windrow is a good idea. I have been watching a guy build a house and a pasture for the last 4-5 years. He cleared the land and put the trees into long windrows which he has been burning. He pretty much is done at this point and just needs some final cleanup and grading. He has had horses on the land pretty early in the process.

If you can get someone to come in with a tub grinder that might work as well. I have a house size pile of wood and stumps that has to go. I talked with a tub grinder owner who was chipping up a similar sized pile and he told me 2-3K without seeing the job. That seems about right. He had two large excavaters loading the grinder and moving the chips. I think we talked for 15-20 minutes and in that time that house size pile had been reduced by half. I think he could do my job in 4-6 hours. And then I have a pile of wood chips I can use for landscaping. We spent dang near $1,000 last year on wood chips to put down on beds and we can use some a whole lot more....