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Forestry Mulching 

What is Forestry Mulching?

Forestry Mulching is the quickest and most affordable method of clearing land of unwanted trees and vegetation! It's an alternative to traditional Strip and Clear Land Clearing. Forestry Mulching starts providing immediate access to the property and at a 50% to 75% lower cost, while saving the landowner or developer thousands in the process. Offering quick accessibility to the property enables survey crews and additional contractors to get OnSite promptly. Thereby, helping to lower the cost of other ongoing property improvements.

Forestry Mulching is the best eco friendly choice of clearing land, because it enables Selective Clearing. Selective clearing allows the property owner to choose wanted trees and vegetation; While leaving the keeper tree’s root systems undisturbed. Undisturbed root systems ensure selected keeper trees do not die post clearing. The process of forestry mulching returns all of the unwanted vegetation material back into the soil. We do 10 years’ worth of composting in 10 seconds. Nothing else enriches the soil profile and nutrient density as fast. The topsoil layer for all remaining trees and future plants is forever improved; Simply because no root systems are disturbed in the process. There is no soil erosion or washout, and this keeps bodies of water within close proximity to the site clean of sediment, typically stirred up by traditional land clearing methods.

 

When you select forestry mulching as your land clearing option, you’re providing your Land with “10 years of composting in 10 Seconds.”-OnSiteTrav

How much does Forestry Mulching Cost?

Less than HALF the cost of Traditional Land Clearing Companies.Projects best suited for applying Forestry Mulching as a Land Clearing method:

 

Projects Best Suited for Forestry Mulching

 

 

Most Common Forestry Mulching Applications

 

  • Invasive Species Removal

    • Brazilian Pepper

    • Melaleuca

    • Australian Pine

    • Air Potato

  • Overgrown Lot Clearing

  • Pre-Construction Clearing

  • Code violation and Compliance

  • Property Clearing

  • Fence Line Clearing

  • Brush / Bush Hog Services

 

Pre-Construction 

 

  • Site Preparation

  • Lot Clearing

  • Survey Line Clearing

  • Viewscape Enhancement

  • Tree Thinning

 

Large Property Maintenance 

  • Access Roads

  • Utility Right of Ways

  • Easements

  • Equestrian Facilities

  • Horse Trails

  • Pasture Restoration

  • Pasture Perimeter Clearing

 

Commercial Clearing 

 

  • Commercial Property Maintenance

  • ROW (right of way clearing)

  • ROW Utility Clearing

  • Right of Way Maintenance

  • Road Overgrowth Clearing

  • Pre-Road Construction

  • Timber/logging Cleanup

 

Forest Fire Prevention 

 

  • Forest Fuel Reduction

  • Fire Stops

  • Emergency access Trails

 

Recreational 

 

  • Campground Clearing

  • Shooting Lane Clearing

  • Hunting Camps

  • River Ranch Camps

  • Horse Trails

Advantage of Forestry Mulching vs Traditional Land Clearing

Traditional land clearing is referred to in the land clearing as “strip and clear”. This is the complete uprooting and removal of all trees and vegetation using heavy bulldozers and tractors. Though Traditional Clearing has its place and purpose, particularly on sites where future structures will be constructed. Most Strip and Clear processes are resource wasteful, expensive, and environmentally harmful. Forestry Mulching differs from Traditional Strip and Clear operations with several major advantages.

No Costly Debris Haul Off

Forestry Mulching requires no debris to be hauled off.  Effectively removing the most expensive variable of land clearing from the equation; Debris haul off! Traditional land clearing methods require the haul off of waste vegetation and debris generated from the project. This comes at an enormous unknown cost. The hauling contractor will often not know upfront the EXACT amount of waste that will be generated from the project. The land clearing contractor will provide the property owner a quote based on a “range” of potential waste loads. Each load of debris is typically quoted on a per load cost to remove. Loads are estimated using one of two units of measurement. Ton’s or Yards. Regardless of the measurement, Contractors must build a unknown cost into the price of a job and will usually go with the highest estimated amount of debris. This unknown ends up being passed onto the landowner.

 

Selective Keeper Trees Remained Unharmed

Many times, larger trees will be selected to stay OneSite. The landowner or developer makes many requests that select trees and areas remain untouched. This is common for use in future landscaping and green spaces. In many areas, county and state law will prohibit grand trees from being removed from the property. The landowner will need to have these grand trees inspected and often will be required to request a special permit with the county or city, to remove them. Grand Trees are commonly thought to be anything native or endangered to the region. Grand trees are referred to as “Grand” because you cannot fully wrap your arms around them. Granting them some sort of protection because of their age, size and seniority to the particular location and site.

Soil Health and Ecology is GREATLY IMPROVED

When you select forestry mulching as your land clearing option. You're providing your Land with 10 years’ worth of composting in 10 Seconds.

topsoil layer for all remaining trees and future plants is forever improved

Can I Build Post Forestry Mulching? 

In most cases Forestry Mulching is the very first action in the process of land clearing or site preparation. This is because it's a very low-cost method to open up the property. Producing immediate results, enabling local officials, survey crews, design architects, builders and the landowner to see and walk the entire property. Forestry mulching often referred to as “under brushing” or “Hydro Axing”, can be conducted in most locations without the need for a clearing permit. At most, some counties will require an under brushing or mulching permit. These are generally inexpensive and do not require the owner or contractor to provide a topographical survey. A topographical survey shows the elevations of the property. Creating an accurate topographical survey is very difficult to do before opening up the property via Forestry Mulching.

 

(insert photo of topographical photo/satellite image)

The lack of regulatory requirements surrounding Forestry Mulching gives the owner and contractor a massive advantage. Thereby gaining a head start on local regulators and neighboring property owners who may act to reduce the development potential of the new site for their own self interests. This head start enables the owner and contractor to address potential issues before regulators legally can walk the property. Enabling an opportunity to prepare the site, take note of natural wildlife and design the site plans for a favorable outcome All of this, before regulators arrive OneSite for pre-building permit inspections. Making it more likely the landowner will be granted the Land Clearing permits needed to begin their project as requested and on time.

How Big of a Tree can be Mulched? 

Most forestry mulching machines are rated for 2-inch to 10-inch-wide material. Though larger trees can be mulched, It is not recommended. Often the extra time and fuel required to mulch larger material is not worth it. Alternatively, there is a point where removing a very large tree and hauling it off becomes more cost effective than the additional time required to mulch it. Most mulching projects will specify a particular size range for the vegetation or trees that will be mulched. In some cases, like ROW (right of way) projects and Fence Line Clearing. The scope of work will require a cleared path, regardless of what size material is present. In the case of ROW and Fence Line clearing, contractors will take the extra time required to mulch large material. The cost for these types of projects is reflected in the square footage rate. In short, almost any tree can be mulched. It's just an equation, what is the most cost-effective way to do it?

 

Forestry Mulching Machines are NOT all EQUAL

 

The basic function a forestry machine is to act as the “carrier” for the Forestry Mulching Head. The mulching head is the piece of equipment actually doing the cutting and mulching. The carrier unit physically moves the head around the site, while also providing power to the forestry head via hydraulic flow. The more hydraulic flow and psi the carrier unit can pump to the head, the more power the head has available to mulch material. Where there is high rates of hydraulic flow and psi there is high heat. As the machine begins to process material the heat builds up. A machine must have an effective way to offload this heat, so it does not overheat or light on fire. A LOT of them do.

 

(insert CAT on fire pic)

Dirt machines running mulching heads is a common occurrence, however they underperform. Often sitting idling as they inefficiently attempt to cool themselves. Dirt machines are not designed with secondary coolers. As well as built with added horsepower and hydraulic flow that is common with a machine intended for forestry work.

 And here is the first major difference between a carrier unit built for Forestry operations and a carrier unit designed for traditional dirt work. A machine designed for forestry operations will have seriously more power when compared with those machines built for dirt operations.

(insert photos)

With all that extra power, comes extra coolers. Forestry machines are built with additional hydraulic and coolant radiators. Enabling a forestry machine to run all day without breaking out of the desired operating temperature ranges. A machine intended for dirt work does not have extra coolers. Because of the lack of additional coolers. dirt machines cannot be run wide open and perform forestry mulching work, all day. The results in a slower, less productive machine.

But even the best and largest forestry machines, can become worthless in the forestry mulching world. Why? Dust. 

Lots and lots of saw dust is generated as the mulching head chews through trees and vegetation. This dust is sucked into the machine's air intake, filters, coolers, and radiators. Clogging the systems with each passing hour. A machine built for dirt operations was not designed to encounter such a harsh environment of wood dust particles. Requiring the operator to get out of the machine and blow out the filters, coolers and radiators often. Not the case with forestry-built equipment. These machines come standard with reversing fans. Enabling the operator to clean the saw dust with a push of a button from inside the cab. A forestry carrier unit, built for forestry work is more powerful, runs colder and does not clog with dust as the day progresses onward.

Forestry Mulching Cutting Heads are NOT all EQUAL

A Forestry Mulching "Head" is cutting part of the forestry mulching machine. It's at the Cutting Head that all the work is done. Heads carry and spin the cutting tools: knives, carbides, or blades.

There are three types of Forestry mulching heads

  • Forestry Brush Decks

  • Forestry Mulching Disks

  • Forestry Mulching Drums

 

A deck mulcher, or “forestry deck”, sometimes called a brush deck. Utilizes blades rotating at very high speeds, cutting material horizontally, similar to a large lawn mower. These decks are relatively inexpensive to operate, and low in required maintenance. They build up less heat than disks and drums. But are generally intended for lighter duty overgrowth. 2-3 inches in girth. Due to their lawn mower-like design they are not well intended for heavy duty material like trees and palms. They cut well into vines, long grass, underbrush etc. The disadvantage of a forestry deck is, it lacks the ability to mulch material into small pieces, or process large branches and logs. This type of application is best for material no thicker than 3-6 inches.

(insert disk pic) 

For larger material a disk forestry mulching head may be used. These mulching heads work similarly to forestry decks. But do not utilize blades as their method of cutting. Instead disk mulcher heads use a large round disk filled with either carbide teeth or cutting knives. The disk spins horizontally at a high speed. Because the head is using a disk with teeth as opposed to blades. The head can cut and process larger material. In mulching disk design is a mix of a brush deck and a traditional drum mulcher. Enabling a disk to be very effective at cutting through long grasses and vines, while having the ability to process some larger material like small trees and branches. A disk mulcher is less expensive to purchase and operate than a drum, but more expensive and productive than a forestry brush deck. It is a compromise between the two designs.

(insert drum pic) 

The drum forestry mulching head is the standard mulching head used today in forestry mulching operations. The drum is equipped with rows of carbide teeth or cutting knives. As the drum spins the cutting tools process material vertically. Creating a suction like low pressure area towards the top end of the drum. This acts to suck material back into the drum material that has previously been cut. Munching each piece of mulch smaller and smaller with each rotation and passing over of the drum.

 

Mulching cutting tools are not equal

Carbides are like a hammer, where knives are like knives. One beats the brush the other cuts.

  • (insert photo of knives:carbide side by side)

Knives can produce a finer mulch at twice the rate of production. But forestry knives are more expensive, wear out faster, and require sharpening every 4-8 hours. Knives will break if they hit rock, concrete or scrap metal. Most knives last up to 70-100 hours before they require replacement, at a cost of $50-$100 each for each knife. Carbide teeth can last beyond 500 hours, costing $100-$125 each. It is more cost efficient for a contractor to run carbides, but in most cases the quality of the mulch product left behind is superior when using forestry cutting knives.

What is the Best time of the year to Forestry Mulch? 

Forestry Mulching can be done any time of the year in most weather conditions. Weather that would shut other operations down, does not stop forestry mulching in most cases.

Ideally when the weather is cooler and the rainfall is at its lowest, it's a good time to mulch. A drier time of the year enables the machines to go further into areas that would otherwise may be too wet during rainy season. The tracks and wheels on the carrier machines also cause less damage to the soil, during the dry season. Because the vegetation itself is not as wet, production moves faster. It's like cutting dry grass as opposed to wet grass. The machines bog down less and run cooler when it's drier. The lower temperatures are also ideal for faster production, because overheating is likely to occur, than at the hottest time of the year. The largest downside to forestry mulching in the dry season. Dust created during the forestry mulching process is far greater. If neighbors are close by consider mulching when it is not too dry out, to avoid covering their property in a cloud of dust.

How deep will a forestry mulcher penetrate the soil? 

Like a chainsaw, Forestry Mulching Heads are not designed to work in the dirt. Dirt will dull and destroy the cutting tools, particularly if the head is using cutting knives. For this reason, mulching heads are built with skid plates on the bottom of the head. These skid plates do not enable the cutting tools to penetrate below the soil layer. All material mulched is cut at ground level.

 

Does it Grow back after Forestry Mulching? 

Because the root systems stay in place, some varieties of vegetation will find a way to regenerate themselves. Seeds that may have been on the trees, brush, vines, etc. may also find a way to germinate in the mulch layer.

Typically, any surviving vegetation will reveal itself in about six months’ time. At which point grasses and weeds will have taken to the fresh mulch layer as well. We recommend having a service we call Forestry Mowing performed at this point. Many forestry mulching contractors are not equipped for the maintenance post mulching.

Immediately after having forestry mulching done, the property will look beautiful. That look will soon fade once the weeds and grasses begin to grow again. Lawn mowers and bush hog tractors are not able to effectively mow on top of the mulch layer. Resulting in damage to the mower blades and mower decks.

 

How to maintain the property after Forestry Mulching

The best maintenance practice after initial forestry mulching, is Forestry Mowing. We recommend allowing 3-6 months’ time to pass. Allowing enough time for the mulch to begin to decompose, breaking down into the soil. At this point grasses, weeds, and small tree saplings will begin to pop up through the mulch layer. A tractor equipped with a flail mower, (not a bush hog). Is then used to mow the weeds, tree saplings and the decomposing mulch layer. Resulting in fine black soil. We use a flail mower because it operates and cuts just like a forestry mulcher with a drumhead, but at ⅓ the cost of a forestry mulcher. Some of our customers elect to do zero maintenance themselves, having us forestry mow every 6-12 months thereafter. The results are a beautiful natural park like look.  (Insert flail mowing wistia video) 

From this point lighter mowing equipment like bush hogs and lawn mowers can be used to maintain the property. Sodding and seeding can occur right after Forestry Mowing, because the mulch has been fully decomposed, enriching the soil layer. And ensuring any seeds or root systems left over from the Mulching process have germinated and been cut back down.

 

Can I build after Forestry Mulching? 

No! Because forestry mulching only mulches what is above the ground and not what is below it. Construction and building cannot occur immediately post mulching. Stumps and root systems must be removed before any concrete can be poured or utility lines installed. Tree Stumps and Root Systems will decompose over time, causing the ground surface to sink. The changes occurring below the ground will show themselves at the surface level, in the form of sinkholes or depressions in the ground. Building on such an area would be catastrophic to any structure built on top of it. If you are planning to construct a building, roadway, concrete driveway, or patio area.

The land where the structure will stand and areas marginally surrounding the structure. Must be stripped and cleared of the stumps and root systems. To do so we commonly refer to this practice as “strip and clear” or traditional land clearing. (insert link to land clearing hub page) For most sites it is beneficial to forestry mulch the whole site at the beginning of the project. Layout where structures and roadways will go, then only strip and clear what’s below the surface level in those areas. This leaves keeper trees unharmed, enriches the soil profile, ensures potential fuel for forest fires is not available and lowers the total cost of clearing the site substantially. The larger the site the more the developer and property owner can benefit from the advantages of forestry mulching!

 

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