Land Clearing Methods
Perhaps the most common method of clearing land is to harvest the timber, bulldoze to “grub” or remove the stumps, and then establish the next cover (yard, pasture, house, driveway, etc.).
Leftover trees and brush can be handled in a variety of ways. While this method may be the most economical and makes finding operators easy, it can also result in extensive damage to the soil. Additionally, unless the timber is very valuable, using a bulldozer may end up costing more than if the timber value was forfeited for easier stump removal.
While bulldozers and front-end loaders make for quick and relatively easy excavation and clearing, it nearly always destroys the topsoil. Leaf decomposition as well as the decomposition of fallen branches and roots helps maintain healthy topsoil. When the roots of a tree are ripped out of the ground, a significant amount of valuable topsoil is often lost. In many areas of Virginia, there are at best a few inches of topsoil to begin with. It is much more difficult to establish grass without the nutrients and organic matter unique to topsoil, the loss of which can prevent successful pasture or lawn establishment. While measures can be taken to remove topsoil and grade it back into an area, this will increase time and cost. It also requires a very skilled operator. Instead of using a bulldozer, an excavator and root rake will result in fewer disturbances, but it will not eliminate the loss of topsoil.