GPH Grading

The Complete Guide to Forestry Mulching

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If you're considering forestry mulching (and you should be) to clear your land, it helps to know what to expect. Check our exhaustive guide to forestry mulching.

Have you been trying to find the best way to clear that overgrown wooded land you have and turn it into a more usable space, but concerned that it will cost you an arm and a leg? Was it a tedious and frustrating experience trying to get your land cleared the last time, and you are seeking an easier solution? If so, then you can put your worries aside. You may find your answer in forestry mulching.

The task of land clearing often comes with many concerns. The cost of the process, the human labor involved, and the long list of steps to be undertaken can feel daunting. The extensive amount of time consumed, machines to be fueled and ecological damage are also considerations. Forestry mulching cuts through each of these problems easily, providing an option for land clearing that is easier, eats up less time and money, and alleviates the environmental risks.

This article will provide you with a complete understanding of the process of forestry mulching and its many benefits. 

What is forestry mulching?

Expert forestry mulching companies provide like ours a more efficient method of removing vegetation remnants after a land clearing project. The brush, trees, and grasses are turned into mulch on the spot rather than hauling away the fallen trees and branches. Forestry mulching is generally used to clear and manage the vegetation in a wooded area, controlling the spread of invasive species, and restoring wildlife health.

Forestry mulching converts the leftover vegetation in an area like brush, trees, short grassy foliage, and heavy branches into a natural, environmentally friendly top-layer of ground covering. Commonly known as mulching, the process eliminates the need for multiple machines such bulldozers, excavators, tree shears, wood chippers, grinders, and hauling equipment. Instead, with forestry mulching, a single machine is used to cut, grind, and clear vegetative growth and saplings, leaving behind a shredded blanket of mulch. This protective layer of organic material is left to break down and be reintroduced into the soil, making it richer and more fertile. The biodegradable top-layer (mulch) becomes a natural protective barrier over the soil that stabilizes the ground, prevents erosion, and encourages native plant growth.

What type of machinery is required for forestry mulching?

The machines that are used by forestry mulching companies to clear a piece of land are called mulchers. Some mulchers are smaller, such as the common lawn mulchers, and are defined as pieces of garden and yard clearing equipment. But generally, mulchers refer to the high-performance machines used for clearing expansive plots of land, construction sites, and areas with thick brush and heavy foliage.

These are some of the main types of mulchers used for forestry mulching.

Freestanding Mulchers: These are portable mulching units made of plastic. They come with a funnel-shaped opening through which the mulcher is fed leaves and debris where it quickly shreds them into small particles. The shredded vegetation and debris are then turned into natural, nutritious mulch for the remaining plants.

Lawn Tractor Mulchers: These small mulcher attachments are pulled behind tractors. They are often used for lawn mowing due to their efficiency. Lawn tractor mulchers work on a large area of land in a short period of time.

Commercial Mulchers: The most common types of mulchers for construction sites, commercial mulchers are used for clearing land for new construction. They are very large due to the challenging nature of their task. Commercial mulchers are built of durable, heavy-duty steel, have lots of horsepower, and can stand up to rugged use.

Dual-Purpose: These mulchers come with a built-in shredder or chipper feature and are popular because of their ability to do multiple tasks at the same time. A dual-purpose mulcher cuts the vegetation, which is then fed into the shredder. Inside the shredder, it is reduced into even smaller pieces that become nutritious mulch for the soil.

Electric Powered Mulchers: These mulchers are made for simpler land clearing jobs. Because they run on electric motors, they are quieter and perfect for residential neighborhoods. Electric powered mulchers are eco-friendly as they cause less pollution. However, they run on a power cable which limits the areas that they can reach.

Gas Powered Mulchers: Gas-powered mulchers are extremely powerful, heavy-duty mulchers. They are generally used in clearing dense foliage, tree limbs, and bushes. Gas-powered mulchers come in various sizes geared toward different site conditions.

What are the advantages of forestry mulching?

Forestry mulching, an environment-friendly process of land clearing, has many advantages over traditional methods. Here are seven of the most significant benefits.

Forestry mulching is quick and affordable.

For smaller areas and more straightforward sites, mulching involves only one machine. That single unit processes trees and other vegetation right where they stand. This one-step process eliminates the need for multiple machines involved in the different land clearing steps such as site prep, cutting, felling, hauling, and site cleanup. Because there are fewer machines and therefore less manual labor, forestry mulching prices are easier on the pocketbook.

The process of forestry mulching also eliminates the cost of hauling away debris.  All the vegetation leftover from clearing the land is converted into a nourishing layer of ground covering. There is no need for trees, branches, grass, and leaves to be hauled away from your property in trucks for disposal.

The heaviest duty mulcher available on the market can mulch around 15 acres per day. For lighter applications, or for areas where larger equipment will not fit, smaller machines still get the job done. Less heavy-duty equipment can clear an acre in half a day to a day, depending on the thickness of the foliage.

Mulching can be performed on any terrain and in any weather. 

Forestry mulching is a straightforward process that can be done in any type of weather or soil conditions; hot or cold, wet or dry. With the right kind of mulching machinery, forestry mulching can be performed on even the most challenging terrains. Skilled companies can perform mulching even on lots with steep slopes and tight areas, on poor soil conditions, and in wet or snowy weather.

The process of forestry mulching produces zero waste and is eco-friendly.

Traditional land clearing methods pose significant risks of soil erosion to the land by pushing over trees, uprooting stumps and roots, and disturbing the soil. In contrast, mulching the vegetation through forestry mulching leaves the soil structure intact. The resulting mulched material acts as an erosion barrier. It also returns nutrients to the soil through the gradual decomposition of the components. Over time, new vegetation will naturally grow through the mulch.

By its nature, mulching is a method of putting to good use the debris that would otherwise end up in a landfill. With the assistance of an experienced forestry mulching team, you can have decaying logs and stumps, unwanted weeds, and other overgrowth converted into a restorative and nourishing layer over the topsoil. This mulch limits the regrowth of invasive species like kudzu, buckthorn, or poison ivy.

Additionally, forestry mulching requires the least number of machines to clear land compared to any other method. This makes it the most fuel-efficient process, limiting damaging emissions.

Forestry mulching reduces the tick population.

forestry mulching lowers tick populations

Ticks are an unwelcome nuisance. They also tend to return home with you on your clothing or exposed skin. With the rising spread of tick-borne illnesses, this is an excellent time to consider mulching to clear your land. The absence of forestry overgrowth leads to a substantial reduction in the population of ticks residing in the area, limiting concerns about these potentially dangerous pests on your property.

Forestry mulching requires no permits.

Due to the lighter footprint of this style of land clearing, forestry mulching requires no formal permits or permissions. For an average-sized plot, the process can be finished in a single day with no advance government paperwork required. 

Forestry mulching hinders the growth of weeds.

Weeds are bad news for farms, gardens, or any type of forestry vegetation. They multiply quickly, and if not brought under control, they will compete for soil nutrients with your desirable plants or crops, preventing them from thriving. Through mulching, the top layer of the ground gets covered with shredded vegetation that blocks the sunlight from reaching any weeds left behind, causing them to die out. In addition, the heat generated by the decomposition of the shredded mulch helps to terminate any remaining weed seeds.

Forestry mulching nourishes the soil.

foresty mulching promotes healthy soil
Forestry mulching promotes healthy soil

Unlike traditional techniques of land clearing, mulching does not push over trees and cause disturbance to the soil structure, increasing soil erosion. Mulch covers the topsoil and protects it from the natural forces that cause soil erosion such as high winds or rainstorms. It also aids in water conservation by reducing the soil’s moisture loss. The mulch layer prevents the sun’s direct rays from hitting the topsoil, limiting evaporation.

Because the mulch is organic material that decomposes over time, it improves soil fertility by delivering essential nutrients that will serve future vegetation. It also moderates the temperature of the soil, keeping it warmer in chilly seasons and cooler in the summer heat. This temperature control aids in healthy plant root development. As the shredded vegetation decomposes, it becomes home to important organisms like earthworms that further contributes to healthy soil.

Who benefits from forestry mulching?

In addition to clearing out farmlands, backyards, gardens, and other private properties, there are other land development and environmental goals that benefit from forestry mulching. Here are some ways forestry mulching is beneficial for other projects.

Commercial and public land clearing

Mulching is becoming quite popular in public, commercial and residential land clearing projects such as construction site preparation and development, creation of nature and recreational trails, and as an aid for seismic exploration. It is a common choice for right-of-way clearing as well as road and highway maintenance, pipelines, and utility lines that often require the complete removal of all standing vegetation.

Wetlands and riverbank ecology (riparian zone) habitat conservation

In their attempts to maintain habitats for pheasants, doves, elk, deer, and other wildlife, private landowners, nonprofit riparian conservation organizations, hunting clubs, and government agencies are adopting the process of forestry mulching because of its environmental friendliness.

Animal Welfare

Mulching also helps control vegetation growth in forests in accordance with the needs of the animal species inhabiting the area. It provides for wildlife welfare in the following ways.

Food. Forestry mulching machines like mulchers and mowers remove underbrush and invasive species like buckthorn and multiflora rose. This allows grasses and other food sources for herbivores to grow and flourish.

Water. Sometimes animals cannot access their water sources when they get blocked due to excessive undergrowth of trees. Mulchers, along with tree shears, can be utilized to restore their access to water.

Shelter. Some animals depend on specific types of grasses for habitat, shelter, breeding, and protection from extreme temperatures. Mulching can remove invasive undergrowth, in turn allowing the growth of grasses the animals need.

Invasive species control

Invasive plants and insects can create harsh conditions for the native ecosystem. Some invasive plant species can spread into an area and soak up a large amount of groundwater. Removing these plants helps preserve the water table. Some common invasive plant species are tamarisk (salt cedar), Pinyon-juniper (PJ), Russian olive, Juniperus virginiana, buckthorn, and multiflora rose.

Invasive insects like pine beetles can devastate forests, leaving behind decaying trees with no timber value. These dying trees become falling hazards if they lose their ability to withstand the wind. Proactive mulching decreases the stress on trees from overcrowding, improving their natural defenses against attacks from these damaging species.

Mulching controls the spread of invasive plants, insects, and fungus. The discharged material left behind after mulching settles within a reasonably confined area. This is the opposite of what rotary cutters do, which laterally disperses the pine beetles or other invasive species into neighboring healthy trees.

Wildfire prevention and management

Proactive mulching reduces the potential for wildfires. It eliminates small leafy plants, fallen or rotten trees, and other fuel sources that might act as tinder for wildfires. Also, reactive mulching, or fire breaks, which is the reactive cutting of lines on active fires, can be used for wildfire control.

How much does forestry mulching cost per acre?

Forestry mulching prices are quite affordable compared to those of other methods of land clearing. You can expect forestry mulching cost per acre to be somewhere between $150 and $250 per hour, or roughly $1500 per day. The lay of the land, the complexity of the project (such as working to avoid certain objects or areas), and the thickness of the material to be cleared all factor in how many acres can be cleared daily; but on average, forestry mulching can clear 1-4 acres per day. While these details give you an idea of how forestry mulching estimates are made, prices will vary based on the location and complexity of the job. Want a better estimate? Contact us for a free forestry mulching estimate on your project.

Which is the best mulcher for your backyard project?

If you have a yard and are interested in natural fertilization, mulchers are for you. Also called mulching lawnmowers, they can fertilize your grass at the same time it is being cut. They convert the grass into mulch, then spread it on your lawn to nourish the soil. You can choose a mulcher for your backyard based on the following categories:

Cutting Width: The width of a lawnmower tells you the amount of grass it can cut at once. Common options include 14 or 18-inch blades. The larger blades tend to offer better cutting performance.

Motor Power: The higher the motor power of a lawnmower, the better the performance. Some options include 11-amp or 13-amp motors, and 40 volt or 56-volt batteries for your garden.

Power Type: There are different types of lawnmowers based on the type of electric power source they use. They can be either battery-operated or use a power cord that plugs into a wall socket.

These days, you will find a lot of variety if you wish to buy a lawnmower. You can choose the best fit for your backyard or garden depending on their different functions. For example, the WORX Mulching Lawn Mower comes with a 14-inch cutting width, 40-volt motor power, and a warranty of three years. The Sun Joe Lawn Mower/Mulcher comes equipped with a 17-inch cutting width, a 13-amp motor and a two-year warranty. In a similar range of cutting width and motor power are brands like Greenworks Electric Lawn Mower (18 inches, 12-amp, four-year warranty), and American Lawn Mower Company Electric Lawn Mower (14 inches, 11-amp, two-year warranty).

If you need a larger cutting width and a more powerful motor, you can consider the EGO Power+ Cordless Lawn Mower with a 20-inch cutting width, 56-volt motor power and a five-year warranty. The top brands that sell heavy-duty mulchers in the market include FAE mulchers, FECON mulchers, AHWI mulchers, and BRADCO mulchers. They are very popular in the agricultural sector.

What are the various services provided by forestry mulching companies?

Forestry mulching companies provide numerous beneficial land clearing services. The right contractor can complete even the most strenuous clearing jobs in less time, using less labor, at the best cost per acre. Forestry mulching companies provide a wide range of services including:

  • Pasture Reclamation
  • Lot Clearing and Beautification
  • Tree Thinning
  • Clearing Overgrowth
  • Underbrush Removal
  • Right-of-Way Clearing
  • Fence Line Clearing
  • Home Site Clearing
  • Hunting Access Lanes
  • Ditch Clearing
  • Tree Removal
  • Trails and Road Clearing
  • Brush Mowing
  • Fire Breaks
  • Utility Easements Clearing
  • Real Estate Thinning
  • Stump Removal
  • Elimination of Invasive Plant Species

What are some of the forestry mulching companies across the country?

In the United States, numerous companies provide forestry mulching services. Hoosier Land Clearing Service, LLC is one such company that utilizes compact track loaders with forestry mulching heads to grind unsightly vegetation, brush, trees, and stumps. This allows them to mulch in a controlled and selective manner with minimal ground disturbance and without uprooting trees. Providing its forestry mulching services to Maryland, Eastern West-Virginia, and Northern Loudoun County, Virginia is Hervet Landworks. Leach Landworx, LLC is a family-owned and operated business that provides forestry mulching and property enhancement services based out of the very picturesque East Tennessee.

Boasting the ownership of heavy-duty machinery capable of mulching a tree up to 24 inches in diameter and performing land clearing for both residential and commercial clients is Texwin Forestry Mulching. They are a fully insured, professional land clearing company that serves most of Texas and Oklahoma.

What are some disadvantages of forestry mulching?

While mulching is a great way of replenishing the soil and getting rid of that unwanted vegetative overgrowth, forestry mulching has a few limitations and disadvantages. Here are some considerations to keep in mind before choosing which process you’ll use to clear your land.

The kind of organic material that constitutes the mulch must be calculated carefully to allow the new plants to grow in a healthy way and thrive without resistance. Many different types of organic material go into making mulch like sawdust, leaves, twigs, straw, softwood, hardwood, grass, etc. If miscalculated, the process can lead to some undesirable results. For example, if you use too much grass as your organic material, it can introduce new weed seeds into your property. Professional advice is highly recommended before mulching.

Mulching is not always the best choice for every property. For larger sized areas that are heavily wooded, mulching can be a tedious task that requires a lot of labor and material. With the largest possible forestry mulching machines, the process is effective only when the land is home to less than 25 tons of vegetation or 100 trees per acre. Mulching, compared to clearing land by hand, is faster and involves less labor. However, it requires the property to have road access for fueling and maintenance of the mulchers. Very remote areas may pose a challenge for forestry mulching.

Mulching provides a very conducive breeding environment for organisms. While some of them are quite helpful for the soil and the crops such as earthworms, mulch can also allow some harmful pests and disease-causing organisms to live and proliferate. Mulching should be performed carefully in a way that does not allow them to multiply and become a real threat to your yard and home. You can contact an experienced company that provides mulching services in your area to get advice on the best actions you can take at the same time as mulching to control pest breeding.

When done improperly, the process of mulching can become threatening to the soil. Organic mulches have to be used in the loose or partially-rotted state to prevent draining nitrogen from the soil. If the mulch decomposes via anaerobic decomposition, it can turn ‘sour’ and damage the plants it is supposed to be protecting.

The most common problem encountered with mulching is that a lot of organic matter is needed effectively create a small amount of mulch. As the organic matter decomposes, its quantity recedes, and so does the mulch. Some properties do not have sufficient vegetation to provide enough mulch for the area.

Mulchers are of two types, one with a mulching head that rotates around a vertical axis and the other in which the mulching head rotates on a horizontal axis. The former can typically shred trees up to 6-8 inches in diameter. The latter can handle trees up to 30 inches in diameter. Based on the kind of mulching head in use, forestry mulchers can only shred smaller trees. Mulching trees bigger than they are designed to handle can be dangerous for both the equipment and the operator.

For mulching areas with varying levels of vegetation and terrain, the project may require multiple pieces of equipment. A combination of skid steer tractors equipped with mulching attachments, tracked mulching machines, and excavator mulchers may be needed. Also, mulchers cannot process rocks and stones. Rocks in the soil can grind against the mulcher’s teeth, damaging them. This can also create a fire hazard.

Mulching is generally a safe process, but there are occasional risks. Debris including rocks and small stones can be thrown through the air while the machine is running. While mulchers have protective shrouds to deflect flying debris, they can be dangerous for people or structures nearby.

When you have a wooded area that needs to be cleared to make room for something new or to preserve and promote a healthy environment, forestry mulching is an excellent option. With its many benefits and relatively few disadvantages, you may find forestry mulching to be the best choice for your project.

About GPH Grading

GPH Grading, LLC provides quality land clearing, bobcat work, excavating, and landscaping service. We operate in the Greater Atlanta Area and surrounding counties.

We provide quality land clearing, bobcat work, and landscaping services. We operate in the Greater Atlanta area and surrounding counties.

Our customers are always our priority. Our primary aim is to serve our customers at the highest level of quality.

We are licensed and insured.

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