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  • Northwest Dirtworks

Forestry Mulching & Underbrush Clearing

Over the last 5-7 years there's been a growing trend in the land management industry, with the addition of specialized machinery, to motivate landowners to consider the process of forestry mulching and underbrush clearing. The process is pretty straight forward, but many people don't really understand the reasons "for" this type of work or the benefits to the landowner AND the land.

Forestry mulching and underbrush clearing are very similar and we will review them basically as the same topic for this post. Essentially the difference is the "size" of the material being cleared/mulched. However, the process and machines used are very similar and thus it makes sense to explain them together. If you decide to have part or all of your property mulched or cleared we can advise you as to what makes sense and why.

The process of mulching/clearing involves bringing in a low-impact compact machine, typically with rubber tracks, onto the property and using a mulching or brush clearing attachment to "shred" unwanted overgrowth and vegetation. Land owners can determine the size and type of vegetation they want to keep and what they want cleared. You can clear trees up to 24" in diameter if you are clearing the entire property or you can request to keep anything over 6" in diameter and thin out the undergrown areas. The process is efficient, quick and has a variety of benefits.

The first benefit to forestry mulching and underbrush clearing is that it's low-impact. There are hidden costs in running machines over a lawn, driveway or walkway in order to access the site to be cleared. Utilizing compact machines, like compact track loaders (CTLs), you can keep the impression on the ground minimal, saving costs. Additionally, the smaller size of the machines used means less damage to the surrounding tress or vegetation you want to keep. It's really a win-win.

A further benefit to forestry mulching and underbrush clearing is the material processed by the machine is left behind. The trees and brush are left behind in small chips and shreds (think a paper shredder) that covers the forest floor. This material prevents excessive runoff and erosion and helps to stabilize the area surrounding the left behind trees.

That leads to one counterintuitive benefit to forestry mulching and underbrush clearing. There is a positive impact on the trees and vegetation left behind. Forests and woods are full of wonderful plants and trees, each competing for nutrients, water and sunlight. Once invasive or diseased trees and underbrush are removed, the remaining trees can thrive. The additional sunlight and water, combined with the decomposition of the shredded materials left behind, will maximize the heartiness of the trees that you decide to keep.

One additional noticeable benefit to forestry mulching and underbrush clearing is the environmental impact. YES, the positive environmental impact. Utilizing fuel efficient, smaller machines means less fuel used to get the work done. Additionally, since the material is left onsite there's no hauling the material to a land fill or processing station, using additional fuel/off gassing. A log chipper is hard to maneuver on a site and has a more severe footprint since it has wheels. They also require a tremendous amount of labor to move material and brush to process.

In conclusion, forestry mulching and underbrush clearing can be extremely beneficial to all property owners, whether you have 3/4 of an acre of 34 acres. Many of our clients utilize us on a bi-annual basis to push back encroaching underbrush and keep their yards from "shrinking". Others select specific areas of their larger properties to clear each year (some each season) to keep out invasive vines or vegetation like poison ivy or bamboo. Additionally, over the last two years we have seen a significant increase in land owners in the Northwest Corner of CT decide to reclaim old, overgrown pastures and farmland. We can certain assist with those clients by either using our mulching head for larger underbrush and trees or our extreme duty brush cutter to redeem that precious land. No matter how large or small your clearing needs....we can help!

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