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Clearing Brush

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clearing brush
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BLACK+DECKER B+D Contributor 193 Projects

Nuisance trees, invasive plants, and thorny groundcovers latch on to your land and form a vegetative barrier, greatly limiting the usefulness of a space. Before you can even think of the patio plan or garden plot you wish to place in that space, you’ll need to clear the way.

If the area is a sea of thorny brush or entirely wooded, you’ll probably want to hire an excavator, logger, or someone with heavy-duty bulldozing equipment to manage the job. But on suburban plots, brush can usually be cleared without the need for major machinery.

Cutting and removal tools used for brush clearing should be scaled for the job you’re asking them to do. Simple hand tools can handle much of the work, but for bigger jobs having the right power tools is a tremendous work saver. Dress for protection when taking on a brush-clearing job. You never know what mysteries and challenges reside on your property behind the masses of branches and bramble. Wear boots, long pants, gloves, long sleeves, and eye protection. Follow a logical workflow when clearing brush—generally, clean out the tripping hazards first so you can access the bigger targets more safely.

How to Clear Brush

  1. Cut the brush and/or small trees as close to the ground as possible, dragging brush out of the way and into a pile as you clear.

  2. Next, clear out larger plants— brush and trees with a diameter of about 1 1/2" to 3 1/2". Use a bow saw or chain saw to cut through the growth, and place the debris in a pile. Trees larger than 4" diameter should be left to grow, or removed under the supervision of a professional.

  3. Use a heavy-duty string trimmer or a swing-blade style weed cutter to cut tangled shoots, weeds, and remaining underbrush from the area.

  4. Curbside pickup of yardwaste usually requires that sticks or branches be tied up into bundles no more than 3 ft. long. If you plan to install a hardscape surface, make sure the brush does not grow back by using a nonselective herbicide to kill off remaining shoots or laying landscape fabric.

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