Reclaiming overgrown land

   / Reclaiming overgrown land #1  


Veteran Member
Nov 23, 2006
Kubota L6060
Now that we are settled in the new home and my list of build projects is finally over I've decided to tackle clearing a lot of overgrowth on our land. We have a mix of field and timber. A lot of the timber is so heavy with overgrowth and thorns that it's difficult in many areas walk it. Another section looks to be overgrown pasture ground. I decided to tackle the old pasture ground first, mainly because it will probably be easier than thinning the timber and also because it will make a great place for a gun range I've been wanting to put in.

Here's a view from the house. If you look closely on the right side of the picture you can see some smoke. This is the area of the overgrown pasture that I'm working on.


Here's a look at what I'm dealing with. Lots of 1-3" saplings along with a lot of medium to mature osage orange trees.


Getting started - I've started by using the brushhog to mow down anything that is under 3" in size. Anything that is questionable for the brushhog is cut with a chainsaw. All of the osage orange and locust that is large enough for firewood will be left standing for now. I'll process it later into firewood.


   / Reclaiming overgrown land #2  
CASE 55C SPECS: CaseIH Farmall 55C tractor information

You did not mention how much forest land you want to clean up, but judging by the roads a considerable amount.

You seem happy with your heavy Case tractor, chainsaw and Bush Hog.

I also suggest a battery powered reciprocating saw for limbs and saplings under 2". Much safer than a chainsaw for small stuff. Reciprocating saw blades are much cheaper and easier to change relative to saw chains. I have found Milwaukee's THE AXE blades superior to pruning blades.

I leave tree stumps, after treating with full strength herbicide to make sure they are dead. Locusts are about the toughest of small trees to kill.

For removing softwood roots, vine roots and corms from below ground level I have had success using a spring protected Dirt Dog (brand) Field Cultivator in my Florida sandy-loam. I had it on my Three Point Hitch yesterday, pulling out subsurface Palmetto calves and wild grape vine roots up to 2-1/4" in diameter.

For overgrown pasture, previously packed by hoofed animals, you may need a moldboard plow to cut through the packed soil and roots. The Dirt Dog Field Cultivator is a secondary tillage implement which has worked 100% for me in woodlands soil but has not been up to primary tillage in hard packed pasture. In really difficult soil you may want a Disc Plow, which is NOT a Disc Harrow, rather than a moldboard plow, however they have a slight tendency to roll over some roots you might wish to sever.

A Chisel Plow would be another alternative. However, a turning plow will probably do more to improve the tilth and fertility of your pasture expansion.

Moldboard plows, Disc Plows and Chisel Plows are all primary tillage implements.

I have hiked a fair amount in Missouri. I saw considerable clay in parts. More loam in the south. How is your soil, generally?

What have to done to your tires to keep air in them? Usually Locust thorns work into tires, resulting in flats.


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   / Reclaiming overgrown land
  • Thread Starter
Right now I'm planning on tackling about 10 acres total. Love the Case 55 tractor. I've got about 85 hours on it so far. I wasn't sure if I would like the CVT transmission after running a hydro for 3000+ hours but I have no regrets at all. Love the CVT trans and would pick it over a hydro now that I've got some time on it.

As far as smaller saplings I've got a beast of a brush hog that I'm using to mow them. I like the recip saw idea if I wasn't mowing them. The brush hog I've got is an 8 ft twin spindle with really heavy 5" wide blades. We've been using it since my Dad bought it 25 years ago. If the trees are too big for it then a chainsaw is easier than a saw. Plus the brush hog tends to shred the stumps making it more likely to kill them.



Our ground has good topsoil but you get into some heavy clay after you dig down a couple feet.


Here's some more progress pics from today. Got a decent size area at the bottom of the hill cleared out. Should make for a nice shooting area for handguns. Need to clear a longer strip for rifles. I also got a road cut down into the valley/ditch of the property where all of the water is draining. If there is enough clay in our soil this will make a great area for a dam and future lake. We have enough runoff area to support up to a 5 acre lake. I'm planning on damming up a small section 4-5 ft high just to get an idea of waterflow and how fast it fills.



   / Reclaiming overgrown land #4  
That frizzed out stump is exactly what you need to see when the object is to kill stumps.

I mow several acres of lots, two to three times per year, so my Rotary Cutter is kept sharp and the 1" and 1-1/2" brush is severed clean. Some attempts to grow back. Thankfully, I have no Locusts.

You never want to mix subsoil and top soil. As long as your clay is consistently 24" below grade you can still use any of my subsoil trash removal suggestions in Post #2. The Field Cultivator would probably disrupt soil levels least. The tines are only 1/2" thick.

What have to done to your tires to keep air in them? Usually Locust thorns work into tires, resulting in flats.
   / Reclaiming overgrown land
  • Thread Starter
What have to done to your tires to keep air in them? Usually Locust thorns work into tires, resulting in flats.

Nothing yet. Just keep pullling them out hoping they don't make it through. I could slime the fronts but rears are loaded with washer fluid. Just hoping if I get one its on the front. Won't be cheap draining and refilling rears.
   / Reclaiming overgrown land #6  
Whatever you do, this time of year is good time to do trimming with saw and lopers, you can get in close and see stuff.

Personally I don't like pasture land, cause I am not farming, so it is an ugly landscape to me. I would start by making trails. So you can get through areas. Then look at thinning.

I debate between cutting stumps low, and pulling and pushing them. Pulling stumps makes a big hole.
   / Reclaiming overgrown land
  • Thread Starter
Right now its so thick with crap trees that its useless land. It's so thick you can't even walk it so I don't really mind clearing it out. Another couple of years and I'll need a dozer to clear it. As far as the rest of the timber it has a lot of good oak and some maple. I'm not wanting to clear it, only thin the underbrush and selectively cut some of the trees to allow some light in.
   / Reclaiming overgrown land #8  
Fun post. I think that thinning out the woods is one of the most fun things to do on a tractor!!!! Love the before and after look of it, and how much nicer everything looks. Around here, trees are weeds, and if you don't keep up with mowing, they come back thicker then before.
   / Reclaiming overgrown land #9  
You seem to have done right well on those areas already cleared.

Maybe think about a root rake for the loader. One that can get under and lift the roots. That will let you work forward on areas removing both tree and root ball with the dirt shook off. With the forks under the roots and lifting and curling you will get a lot of front wheel traction. The curl usually does pretty good at lifting and loosening the roots.
   / Reclaiming overgrown land
  • Thread Starter
Eddy I agree with you. While its been hard work and I'm currently covered in cuts and scrapes from thorns from the waste down there is something oddly therapeutic about clearing up the land. Our family has enjoyed it so far as well. We've been taking evening walks through the new areas I've cleared and the kids have enjoyed it.

Egon thanks for the suggestions on the root rake. I may have to look into it. I've never used one before. I'll have to figure out a way to keep those pesky ads from popping up on the computer when I start looking. They are starting to tip my hand to my wife anytime I start looking at something new to buy.

Here's a quick video of the brush hog in action


Also have some thunderstorms moving in today. Yesterday I went out and dammed up across the ravine about 5 feet high. While I don't expect it to hold water I'm hoping to go take a look when some heavy rain hits and see how fast the runoff starts to fill the area. I'm expecting it to be enough to just blow it out if we get heavy rains. It looks like I have about 16 acres total that drains through this area.